Updated November 13, 2013

Teacher Statistics: How Teachers Make a Difference

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You know that bumper sticker that says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher”? It’s the literal truth. While most of us spend more time thinking about reality TV stars and pro athletes, teachers are among the few people who truly affect our lives in a direct and positive way.

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Infographic: How Teachers Make a Difference
Infographic: How Teachers Make a Difference © CreditDonkey

Partly because they’re so important to society, teachers are often the subject of a lot of public debate. Towns argue about school budgets. Policymakers take sides on how to judge educators’ job performance. TV commentators blame schools and their employees for young people’s supposed lack of work ethic and moral values.

The good news for teachers is that, for the most part, people think they’re doing a good job. More than 70 percent of Americans said they have “trust and confidence” in public school teachers. Most also think teachers are underpaid for what they do.

And yet, there is also a strain of thought that suggests many teachers are uninterested in their job, are unwilling to truly reach out to their students, or are lazily relying on union contracts until retirement. While many parents know that school ends at 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon, they don’t all realize that teachers’ work days often extend into the evening, time they spend leading after-school activities, grading homework, and planning future lessons.

Show Your Appreciation

You respect what the teachers in your community are doing. How can you show it? If you have a student in school, there are plenty of ways. Teachers say they hope parents come in for open houses and help make sure their kids’ homework gets done. They also hope parents will get in touch if there’s any problem in the student’s school or home life that they should know about.

Whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, or just an involved community member, another great way to help is by volunteering. Most school districts are always looking for folks to run book fairs, help at teacher appreciation lunches, or just put in an hour assembling packets of paperwork.

Then there are gifts. Many parents like to give their children’s teachers a little something around the holiday season or at the end of the school year. Gifts are, of course, always appreciated, but thoughtful ones are even better. Because many teachers buy classroom supplies out of their own pockets, one great present is a gift certificate to a local office supply store. You can even help out teachers all over the country through a donation site called Donors Choose. It matches generous people with teachers who need help supplying their classrooms.

However you interact with teachers, whether it’s in a parent-teacher conference or at a school board meeting to set the annual budget, one of the most important things you can do is to respect their work. After all, without teachers, you probably wouldn’t even be reading this article.

Whether you’re buying your child’s teacher a gift or paying for school supplies, check out the CreditDonkey guide to credit cards for families to find the best ways to pay.

(Graphic Research by Astrid, Graphic Design by Santosh, Graphic Editing by Maria, Additional Writing by Livia, Editing by Sarah)

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