By Matthew Berger, AmeriCorps member serving on the Northwest Elementary School Team generously supported by Comcast NBCUniversal.
When thinking about amazing teachers, it’s easy to think of favorites you had in school, or even ones that appear in fictional worlds, like Dumbledore from Harry Potter, or Ms. Honey from Matilda. But we often forget that there are teachers all over the planet putting in hours every day making sure their students receive a quality education.
On October 5th, 1966, members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) came together to sign their official “Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers”, a landmark work that helped set out standards for teachers on a global scale. The 145 paragraph document deals with the entire spectrum of the teacher profession; from recruitment and selection, to proper pay, and the rights and responsibilities of teachers. These recommendations were the first of their kind to address the status of teachers internationally. They came in during a period of strong connection between teachers and labor unions and showed how unity between these organizations could improve the quality of life for teachers on a global scale.
On October 5th, 2018, countries around the world will celebrate World Teacher’s Day to commemorate the signing and take a chance to appreciate teachers around the world who work hard every day to ensure we all receive a quality education. Every World Teacher’s Day also has an accompanying theme. This year the theme is “The right to education means the right to a qualified teacher”. This theme was chosen to help mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognized education as a fundamental right. It’s no mystery that there’s a teacher shortage throughout America right now, and this shortage is plainly seen in areas with high concentrations of vulnerable populations, such as disabled children, refugee and migrant children, or children living below the poverty line. At City Year, we work with children from all these groups and more by providing extra support in the classroom and bridge the gap between what students need and what schools have the resources to provide.
Although I’ve only been in a classroom for a month, I’ve managed to develop a great partnership with my teacher and my students. My partner teacher, Ms. Sacharko, has amazing behavior management skills, and excels in getting students on task. We got a compliment last week for being the quietest class on our floor! With my students, I have the honor of acting both as another tutor in the room that can support them in their education, and as a peer mentor that helps support them emotionally. When we all work together, we are able to accomplish so much, and the improvement I’ve seen in my students in the short time I’ve been in school is inspiring.
Despite City Year’s best efforts, however, it is impossible for us to singlehandedly solve the many problems facing America’s education system. This World Teacher’s Day, I simply ask you to remember all how hard teacher’s work to give every child that comes into their classroom the best possible education they can. Despite the many challenges, they still come in every day because they recognize that no matter what, a good education from a qualified teacher is a right belonging to every child.
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