Know Your Teachers
I have three cats, all with very different personalities. They all came from different litters, but they are siblings now. Let me introduce you to my crew. First there is my oldest, Daisy, a beautiful but slightly overweight black tortoiseshell. Next is Socks with the requisite white feet and striking green eyes. Lastly is Igor, nicknamed Iggie, with a stubby Manx cat tail and a clever and outgoing attitude.
If you aren’t a cat person, you may think that a cat is a cat, but that could not be further from the truth. Let me explain how these feline friends differ. Daisy is smitten with my husband and will follow him wherever he goes. She squirms her way into his lap as often as possible and is known to drool when he scratches her just right. Socks is smitten with Daisy, which creates an interesting love triangle. Socks follows Daisy wherever she goes and occasionally gets a hiss and slap from her if his efforts are a little too forward. Iggie is smitten with food and shows great affection for our automatic cat feeder. He has meal times memorized and has mastered the art of catching food before it even gets to the bowl.
Before our next vacation, I’ll leave careful notes for our pet sitter. I’ll let him know that Socks is especially shy and his favorite place to hide is under our bed. I’ll tell him that Daisy needs some sweet words and affection and her favorite spot to sleep is on my husband’s pillow. And I’ll let him know that Iggie will wear out his siblings wanting to play, so he would appreciate a little exercise with the laser pointer.
It's the same with teachers. The school year just started and your teachers are quickly learning all about their students. And just as they see every student is different, you are discovering―or rediscovering―that your teachers are different as well. Let’s talk about some of the fun and amazing types of teachers and how we can help them to grow and thrive.
Teachers Who Like Food
For some educators, nothing says love like a box of cookies or a fruit tray. It doesn’t have to be made from scratch, but teachers know that you are thinking of them when you take the time to deliver a little something. You may not have time to share a bite with your teachers, but it is equally effective to leave a note of encouragement along with the goodies.
Teachers Who Like to Play
Some teachers and teams enjoy a scavenger hunt or a riddle that causes a smile. You might come across a science cartoon that is worth forwarding to particular teachers. It could even be a seriously lame joke that gets a groan rather than a laugh, but humor has the power to break down barriers.
Teachers Who Like to Learn
Most of us educators are book hoarders―we just can’t help ourselves. Pass along books and scholarly articles to help teachers grow. Make it even more personal by including a note, quote, or summary of what you are sharing and look for opportunities to discuss what you have shared.
Teachers Who Like to Be Heard
I’ve yet to meet a teacher who doesn’t want to be heard, but that may look different to different people. Some teachers enjoy having someone visit his or her classroom to see them deliver the instruction they have worked so hard to plan. Other teachers want to share ideas or brainstorm about things they would like to learn or study. Still others need a sounding board as they are making the decision about whether to begin an advanced degree. There is no substitute for just being present.
Teachers’ jobs are to help their students be amazing, and our job as science leaders is to help our teachers be amazing. These are just a few of the many ways you can support and foster educators in your district by adding a little fun and encouragement at just the right time. Educating students is a fulfilling and rewarding career but has moments that can sap the energy from even the most dedicated professional. A boost from a colleague may be just what is needed to turn a tough day around. It might even be as effective as watching Iggie chase a laser pointer.