Bailey Hampton (Eastern North Carolina '04) is the Manager of District and School Partnerships for Teach For America—Houston.
On October 5, 1994, UNESCO celebrated the first World Teachers' Day to commemorate the 1966 signing of the Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers by officials from the United Nations and the International Labor Organization.
Interestingly, it is not just in the United States that the profession of teaching is under-respected. UNESCO, with this year’s subtle slogan “Take a stand for teachers!” hopes countries will recognize the day by drawing attention to and discussing the profession and what we can do to support and celebrate our teachers. In that vein, I’d like to tip my hat off to efforts from around the globe to lift this holiday.
South Africa—The Wits School of Education will host high-schoolers and graduates who are interested in pursuing a career in teaching. They’ll have an opportunity to meet with great teachers and see excellent teaching practices. The day will wrap up with an appreciation tea to recognize teachers—particularly those that mentor aspiring educators.
Liberia—The Liberia Institute for the Promotion of Academic Excellence (LIPACE) worked with students in 15 schools to blanket campuses with posters of appreciation for their teachers who arrived early this morning to surprise their teachers with words of gratitude and a flower-pinning ceremony.
Cambodia—The Cambodian Independent Teachers Association arranged a national celebration and march in defense of teachers’ rights. Teachers, parents and students gathered in Phnom Penh for speeches and marched to the Ministry of Education to promote a bill of policies that they are advocating.
Tanzania unveiled its first professional teacher organization today, twelve countries are hosting national-level conferences, and American poet and former teacher Taylor Mali has dedicated his poem “What Teachers Make” to the day. At its headquarters in Paris, UNESCO held high-level discussion panels around how to recruit and retain top graduates in the teaching profession (sound familiar?!) and how to improve teachers’ status.
Recently, three education institutions in the United States announced events. EC—Boston (a branch of the English Learning Center) and Western Washington University are recognizing the day with small, internal events. Most notably, however, the Johns Hopkins University School of Education is partnering with Teachers Without Borders and the East Baltimore Community School (EBCS) to host an international dialogue between EBCS’ 5th graders and their teachers and their counterparts in China, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Mexico.
For the most part, though, this day has likely gone unrecognized by the vast majority of our country. But you—we—can and must do our part to encourage our communities to recognize and acknowledge the challenges, complexities and triumphs that our teachers encounter every day. Send an e-card to a teacher that has inspired or mentored you and/or your child. Talk to your kids about what education means to students around the world. Like the event on Facebook or follow it on Twitter (#wtd2012). Most importantly, though, please take the spirit of the day with you through the rest of the year—and let’s work to get this day the national attention it deserves in 2013.
Bailey Hampton, a self-proclaimed International American, grew up largely overseas —mostly in Singapore with a short stint in England —and only spent 4 years of her grade school career in the United States (grades 3-5 and 12). She was a 2004 corps member in Eastern North Carolina where she taught French and SAT-Prep at Warren County High School for two years, and afterward she moved to D.C. to earn her master’s degree in International Education from George Washington University. She currently serves as the Manager on the District and School Partnerships team in Houston.