Teacher Appreciation Week: Teachers as Treasure Seekers

By Cheri Borchardt

A common scene in many homes these days, during shelter in place, is a family gathered around the TV watching old movies on Netflix. As the wife of a history buff and a mom of a history professor, I am usually outnumbered! True to form, last week our family movie of choice was National Treasure.

The 2004 film National Treasure was a box office hit and remains a favorite of many teachers and students as a movie in the classroom. On the surface, the film appeals to the audience’s desire for adventure, action, and future riches, but on a deeper level, the film teaches us some important lessons about the relationship between teachers and students!

Rather than buckets full of gold, jewels and priceless artifacts, the real national treasure is our students. Every day teachers aim to unlock the rich potential of their students. Like treasure seekers, teachers need a vivid imagination, an optimistic outlook and dogged determination to discover the real treasure inside their classrooms.

So, thinking about a treasure hunt, I started to make connections between the movie and the life that I live each day as a school administrator. As the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for a school in Texas, my privilege is to oversee the expedition, offering support and providing resources for teachers and students.  But the teachers are and always will be the key to the success of the expedition!

On this Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to draw some connections to the greatest and most important treasure hunt we have and will continue to ever embark upon.

First, treasure hunters often explore uncharted territory. They dive deep into the ocean or find a remote cave where they have not been before. Teachers during this COVID-19 pandemic find themselves in a similar situation. No longer can they look at their student’s faces to see if they “get it” or answer questions in the moment. While they are still using tools and technology to provide daily instruction, never before have teachers been so totally distanced from their students.

Next, treasure hunters have a plan, a map that they follow to find what they are seeking.  Teachers have always had a plan and used a roadmap of state standards and best practices to provide the best content and delivery they have to offer. While that map is still in place, it has been revised to meet the “new standard.” Teachers have had to create new and uncharted paths to get to the desired destination. Flexibility and finding new and different techniques to reach students is an everyday occurrence for our teachers.  It is a strange new world and one that teachers have worked hard to navigate!

Treasure seekers also follow some protocols that teachers use as well. They reach out to others, they find someone they trust to accompany them on the expedition, they use basic tools but often innovate and find creative ways to get what they need. Teachers have done the same, working in teams, conferencing on a regular basis with technology and instructional coaches and administrators, and looking for innovative ways to motivate students. This expedition has become a team effort, with everyone working toward the same goal! 

Finally, when treasure seekers find their treasure, they open it up to find all that they have been seeking… sometimes! But teachers always open a treasure beyond measure: a child’s curiosity, a face that lights up the first time they read a word or understand long division, the desire and passion to be a creative problem solver, or overcome a challenge or struggle they have experienced. Instead of looking at a chest of treasures, teachers look at each child and a gift or talent that they discovered in them that may someday change our world. Our children are our future and the real national treasure. How blessed are we as teachers to have the opportunity to discover these riches and help our country flourish now and in the future. 

One last thought. If a teacher comes to mind who:

  • Unlocked you or your child’s intellectual curiosity
  • Recognized a special gift in you or your child
  • Persevered with you through a challenging time
  • Reached out to you to become a partner in your child’s education
  • Was special to you for any number of reasons

Reach out to them and say thank you for seeking and reaching our national treasures and the best our great nation has to offer…our children!

Cheri Borchardt is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Lorena ISD, located in central Texas near Waco.  She has been an elementary teacher, a teacher of gifted and talented students, and an Educational Consultant for IBM.  With 36 years in education, she is still passionate about helping students be successful and says she will always be a teacher at heart.

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