Teacher Appreciation Week Should Be Teacher Trust Year

It’s been fifty years since I started teaching. Can’t believe it has been so long. I still love it and love the kids but many teachers don’t feel this way. They love the kids but do not love the job. They feel frustrated and disrespected. It is no wonder many teachers need to have two jobs just to stay afloat.

Once a year, we celebrate teachers and find ways to show our appreciation through donations, gifts and notes. Appreciation is nice, and much warranted, but it doesn’t solve the underlying problem in our school systems. What teachers need more than appreciation is trust and respect.

Teachers are striking across the country. Fifty percent of teachers leave the profession after just five years. Teacher absenteeism is a national problem. Teachers are mad, frustrated and fed up. Salary is a focal point but their ire is rooted in more than that.

Teachers are not in it for the money. They enter the profession to make a difference. When they are not empowered to make that difference, or trusted with the means to accomplish that goal, that’s when frustration and disillusionment sets in.

Empowerment, I purport, is where the money is. Folks on top, with keys to the purse strings, are making a variety decisions, and teachers are tasked to execute. As a result teachers are pulled in many different directions at decision makers’ whim.

Teachers need access to purse strings themselves. With purse strings comes true empowerment. Teachers are on the front lines, in the trenches, solving student needs on a day-to-day basis. They need to be trusted to act quickly, nimbly and creatively, characteristics that school district culture does not cultivate. This may sound like an ad, but what I am going to suggest is a solution to a problem all teachers face — -spending their own money on classroom supplies.

There is a fast-growing and highly innovative company called ClassWallet (www.classwallet.com) that is addressing this issue head on. ClassWallet enables districts to establish a budgeting tool for teachers, and decentralize procurement down to the where the heart of learning takes place — the classroom. As a result, teachers are empowered like never before.

This is a great idea….all teachers being empowered with some funds to spend on their students. What a gift to the students and to the respect for the teachers. For fifty years, I have spent thousands of dollars out of pocket and so do millions of other teachers.

Through ClassWallet, teachers get real-time visibility to a declining balance budget and can purchase supplemental resources at their discretion to solve classroom challenges. Goods arrive in days and the business office gets the quality control more efficiently and cost effectively than traditional purchase order systems.

ClassWallet is already used in 2,000 schools across 15 states and is expected to more than double next year. Some education departments have adopted the platform statewide, and teachers are enthralled. For the first time in their career, they are getting direct access to real purchasing power coupled with trust to accomplish the job they signed up for — to make a difference in children’s lives.

DonorsChoose.com or ClassWish.com are also a good ways to support teachers, but with ClassWallet teachers don’t have to wait until someone donates. It should be there for them at the beginning of the school year. Encourage your school boards to support teachers by looking into ClassWallet.com. It could make a big difference.

Students at Palo Alto High Media Arts Center

Educator, journalist, IT & OER consultant

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