From when I was little girl, I have always wanted to teach. Many of my teachers influenced my decision, most especially my high school English teacher, Ms. Weiss. She was generous with her time, taught in a calm but engaging manner, and above all, always made me feel like I mattered. I can imagine that if Ms. Weiss was still teaching today, during this time of social distancing and stay-at-home directives, she would be checking in with each of her students via email, text, or phone, setting up one-on-one virtual chats to provide help with assignments, and facilitating collaborative writing sessions with her classes. Teaching, and students, was her heart.
Of course, there are millions of “Ms. Weiss’s” in the US today and they are managing not only the new reality of distance teaching but also personal and household responsibilities, staying healthy, and, if they’re parents, distance learning for their own children.
How do they do it all? -- with a lot of coffee, virtual staff meetings, planning and assigning lessons and activities, and learning how to use a few digital tools to manage instruction.
Why do they do it all? -- love of teaching, plain and simple.
Daily, I read stories of teachers who have gone above and beyond to reach their students and maintain a sense of “normalcy” in this new normal: scheduling read-alouds on Facebook; creating and posting teaching videos on a class YouTube channel; visiting students at home – from a safe distance – to deliver goodies, tech devices, and meals; setting up virtual sessions with parents to help them navigate distance learning requirements. It’s no wonder that one famous television producer said that after a week of schooling at home, she thought teachers deserved a billion dollars.
So, today, on Teacher Appreciation Day, think about the teacher(s) in your life and what they have recently been thrust into. How have they shown you that they are not only essential, but vital? What can you do to show your appreciation for all that they do, especially now? Here are some ideas:
- Send a free ecard using sites like Ojolie or Open Me.
- Have your children write thank you letters and send to their teachers.
- Send a gift card, flowers, or similar gift that can also support local businesses.
- Get together with other parents and organize a Thank You parade for the teachers at your school.
- Share your thoughts about how a teacher has made an impact on your life and/or your child’s on social media with #ThankATeacher. Tag the teacher in the post.
The landscape of education may continue to change in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to keep our families healthy and safe. What will not change is the ongoing dedication that teachers will put forth in helping their students get the best education they can. Teacher Appreciation Day, or Week or Month even, does not seem enough to truly express the gratitude we all feel for our teachers. But let’s try-- #ThankATeacher; #ThankATeacher2020.