Thank a teacher!
On October 5, every year, teachers are celebrated globally.
Unlike Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day where a lot of momentum is generated, sadly, this day passes by quietly each year.
Teaching is a profession that requires pouring oneself into the other.
Teachers/educators, therefore, ought to be appreciated and made to feel really special on this day.
As gravity is to the earth, so are teachers to the educational system.
They complement the work of parents, ensuring that their students reach certain goals of increasing knowledge and understanding in specific fields.
In some parts of the world, teachers are considered an important cornerstone in the quest to achieve a society that taps potential optimally through the lifelong joy of learning.
It is said that the happiest country in the world is so because it has the best teachers.
This happiness is the result of creativity, well-being and endless opportunities that teachers offer students.
Every teacher must be empowered at every opportunity and encouraged to do what they do as trusted professionals and innovators very well.
If a nation does not agree with Nelson Mandela that education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world, its teachers, who are major key players, will not be valued significantly.
Apart from making sure that students are on top of whatever subject they teach, they play other roles that result in shaping their students for the future.
Younger learners spend about a third of their lives in school with their teachers.
During these contact hours, the teachers are legally in loco parentis, and thus, worthy of a resounding celebration too.
Teachers provide mentorship by nurturing, counselling and guiding learners to understand and deploy their unique capabilities.
The ideal teacher cares enough to intervene at any point in a child’s life sometimes by simply engaging the parents where there are concerns.
As the mediator between school administration and parents, teachers have the opportunity to identify student needs early and also help resolve conflicts that affect the child’s academic performance.
These roles call for reflection on the mental capacity of teachers when we consider that one cannot give what they don’t have.
Interestingly, World Mental Health Day follows five days after the teachers’ day.
Most children idolise their teachers and learn from their character and behaviour by imitation.
That is why they will rant and throw tantrums when a parent’s statement or view contradicts their teacher’s.
“Teacher did not say that or that is not what my teacher taught me” is what they retort in defence of their revered teachers.
Teachers must, therefore, be guided and encouraged to care for themselves and their mental health.
Good teachers listen to students, try to understand their difficulties and help them overcome their challenges.
Teachers can end up with second-hand stress as they take on the responsibility for the problems of their learners.
In many states, teachers run the risk of developing compassion fatigue.
This often leads to disruptive, depressive or irritating symptoms if left unattended.
People who suffer compassion fatigue end up in hopelessness and feeling like one’s, work is not valued or has no impact.
This is how good teachers can end up as bad teachers.
The World Teachers’ Day celebration, therefore, places a responsibility on everyone to reach out to thank a teacher.
One will be supporting their mental health and spurring them to go higher and do more for their students by this act.
For these reasons, mental health education and opportunities for self-care must be an integral part of this global celebration annually.
The writer is a Child Development Expert/ Fellow at Zero-to-three Academy, USA.