In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s take a few minutes to remember who taught us how to read and write, how to add, subtract, divide and multiply, how to play the flute, how to conjugate verbs in French, what the seven wonders of the ancient world are, how the planets travel around the sun, and the right way to dissect a frog or combine chemicals without having them blow up in our face.

Maybe some of what we learned in the classroom years ago as well as some of the people sitting next to us back then are just hazy memories, but isn’t there always at least one teacher who stands out in our memory in a positive way?

We all know what a teacher’s job is – to teach. But there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes that we don’t know about unless you are a teacher, you work with one or you live with one.

Teachers work hard for their bachelor’s degree, and many go on to get advanced degrees. They take continuing education classes throughout their career, as well as state-mandated tests to obtain and keep their teaching license.

The school day begins early and for many ends late. They have homework on weeknights and weekends or they stay late after school because they don’t have enough time built into their work day to create lesson plans, make copies for handouts, clean their rooms or other tasks that just have to be done.

Teachers don’t always have the supplies they need, so they spend their own money on what they feel will help them in their lessons and to make their rooms more comfortable and cheerful for their students.

Teachers have deadlines for progress reports and standards of learning. They meet and work with parents and spend extra time after school as coaches or advisers of school clubs and other activities.

Imagine yourself in a teacher’s shoes for just one day. You’re standing there looking out at 18 to 22 [or more] students staring back at you, waiting for you to perform. Not only do you have to be on your toes all day, you are working with a classroom full of individuals, from those who want to be there to those who just don’t.

Some of this may sound like what you’ve experienced at your job. You may work long hours and take your work home. You also may have spent your own money to do your job, or you have had to deal with a cranky boss or obnoxious co-worker. But there is a big difference, and it’s personal. Teachers are role models. They don’t need to earn respect, they are in a position that demands it. They are held to high standards and they must meet those high standards for a special reason – they are educating our children.