Matt Batesky is a 2016 MinnCAN Blogging Fellow, who works as a high school special education teacher.

This week—Teacher Appreciation Week—has been special for educators like me, as many of our students, parents and community members have taken the time to recognize the challenging work we do. Although this recognition is wonderful, it’s important that we all acknowledge the many people who contribute to the education of our children. That’s why, to close out this week, I would like to express my appreciation for the countless others who make it possible for my colleagues and I to teach.

I appreciate the bus drivers who wake before dawn, put up with traffic and wait patiently at the stop for the stragglers so they don’t miss their first period. I appreciate the food service staff, paraprofessionals, classroom volunteers and aides who feed, support and assist students from all walks of life as they go through their school day. I appreciate the custodial, maintenance and security workers who ensure the buildings are safe, clean, comfortable and well-stocked.

I appreciate the principals and administrators whose leadership and vision set the course for our students. I appreciate the guidance counselors, social workers and equity professionals who see children in crisis, and scramble the resources necessary to help ensure our kids are safe and supported, in and out of the classroom.

I appreciate my colleagues whose passion for students inspires me to never stop improving. I appreciate my former teachers, professors, mentors and supervisors. I am the product of the passion they brought to the classroom when I was a student. These instructors saw the promise of the next generation of educators and nurtured this future teacher until I was strong enough to teach on my own. It is every teacher’s hope to some day have an impact so great as to inspire their students to pick up the torch and teach the next generation.

I appreciate my students’ parents, guardians and older brothers and sisters, for juggling the schedule to make it to conferences, for asking about homework, praising growth and providing support when their child struggles.  I appreciate how tough it is to manage all of their responsibilities, appointments and activities so that their children may be well-rounded and curious. I appreciate families trusting us with their learners. The responsibility of educating their children is great, and its importance is not lost on us.

Finally, I appreciate the students most of all. I never tire of seeing the face of a young person when they learn something new, and I appreciate that I get to see that every day! I appreciate that they keep me on my toes, keep me honest and keep me sharp. I appreciate that they bring diverse and unique experiences to my classroom. Their energy and enthusiasm push me to be my best. I appreciate how students accept my flaws and call me out when I am wrong—I am not perfect and they understand that. I appreciate that students may have challenges outside of school, yet come to my class and expect to learn despite any circumstances that may be beyond their control. I appreciate that my experience will not be theirs, and I must do my best to prepare them for a world that is ever-changing and evolving.

This Teacher Appreciation Week, as you think about the teachers who had the greatest impact on your lives, take some time to reflect on all the people who enabled them to teach and to make you the person you are today. As a teacher, I can tell you, there are many others who contributed to your education and they deserve appreciation, too.

 

Matt Batesky is a high school special education teacher outside of the Twin Cities. He has worked with students in grades 10-12 for the past three years, teaching academic skills courses, English, United States History and World History. Matt is also a member of the staff equity book club and the school's equity team. Prior to teaching in Minnesota, Matt was a New York City Teaching Fellow, spending eight years in Brooklyn public middle and high schools teaching secondary special education students and general education high school social studies. Matt's passions lie in racial equity, differentiation to meet student needs and culturally responsive teaching.The

MinnCAN blogging fellowship allows Minnesota students, teachers, administrators and parents to share their thoughts on key education issues. MinnCAN supports fellows seeking to advance the conversation around public education, though fellows' views and opinions are solely their own.

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