Every teacher and educator is getting a lot of flack these days due to decisions being made about how schools are operating (despite the fact that we – as educators – really don’t get a say in how any district operates). There are so many comments/beliefs that students are doing distance learning because it’s what we, as educators, want or because we want to stay home and “not have to work”. You wouldn’t believe how many parents are blaming their children’s current teachers/support staff because their child is at home instead of at school.
For the record: Teachers, school counselors, and even school administrators have little to no actual input on district decisions regarding the opening and closing of school, or the determination of whether schools are fully virtual, hybrid, or in person. Those who lead the district really never ask us; they say they do, but in reality, we usually know just as much as parents/families do.
And for what it’s worth……most of us REALLY hate distance learning, too. We would love to go back into our buildings. But school buildings are literally cesspools of germs without a pandemic, so adding that level of contagion makes us all a bit worried/fearful for our own safety.
But I’m not here today to rattle off my reasons for why I am for/against distance learning because you all know at this point, while I’m really not a fan of working from home and would love to go back in the building and be able to work “normally” with our students, I also want to go back when it’s safe for me, my colleagues and my students.
I am here today because it made my normally pessimistic heart happy to see some people reach out to me, my husband, and other educator friends/colleagues to thank us for all that we are doing to help their children get through this difficult time. More often than not, I don’t feel like I’m doing much of anything that is helpful this year, besides keeping my head and everyone else’s above water, so the appreciation is always nice.
But I’ve also had some of you also ask how you can show your child’s teacher/aide/counselor/coach/administrator appreciation during this time because you see how hard they are working for your child. I know I sound biased, but I fully believe the vast majority of us are really trying to help your children as much as we are able, but this is also new territory for us, too.
This school year is truly a team effort for so many of us, so if schools and families can work together we may be able to help our children get through this more successfully than if we are fighting each other at every opportunity.
So, here are a few things you can do to show your teacher/educator your appreciation (and, as a selfish plug, next week (February 1-5) is National School Counselor’s Week, so if you want to show your child’s counselor some love in one of these ways, none of us would be mad:
- Send an email: Literally just send your child’s teacher/educator and email. Let them know that you appreciate how much they are working to provide the best education they can (from home) to help get your child to the next level. You could even add the teacher’s department chair (if you know) or their school administrator, if you really want to spread the love. Principals/administrators are getting the bulk of the hate emails these days, so seeing that one of their teachers is getting some love, could also brighten their day. While yes, we do get a lot of emails on a daily basis, I promise any educator would love to see an email that ISN’T attacking them or sounds hostile…which is the majority of, at least my, inbox.
- Contact local officials and help advocate for teachers – Speaking as an educator who currently lives in a state where officials aren’t listening to educators; they may more likely listen to parents. I mean, they’re currently listening to the parents who are complaining about all of the things that educators can’t fix. It may be nice to hear from the parents that are supporting teachers as well. Like I’ve said, we all understand how difficult this year is on families and students – and the more we can all work together the easier this may be for our kids. Send an email or a letter to your local representative or your State Education Superintendent and let them know what your child’s school/teacher is doing to be supportive. If nothing else, it may make some of them re-think the words they use to describe the current state of education in their area.
- Send a personal e-card or have your child make a drawing/picture for their teacher: I will admit even as a high school counselor, I always keep personal cards/drawings/poems that students/families send me. It always means so much that you took the time to create something for me. When we’re in school I typically put them up on my bulletin board in my office for the rest of the year and then store them in a mementos box after.
- Social Media Shoutouts: Granted, unless your friends on social media with your kids teachers, they may not see this, but giving a shout out on your social media is always appreciated. Social media is where we all seem to get the most hate because there is a screen to hide behind, so it’s always a nice thought to even out some of the negative comments with positive ones. Shout out on your personal page, or even find your school’s social media page or the district’s social media page. I know from perusing my district’s page and my husband’s district’s page, most of the comments there are full of anger and hate, but we do love seeing the positive comments here and there. It makes the hate-filled ones a little easier to read.
- Send a gift-card – I’m putting this as last because I understand this time has been very hard for a lot of people in terms of job loss/finances and honestly, gifts of any monetary value are never expected or needed by any educator. But I also know there are some people who want to do more to show their appreciation than just writing an email or a letter, and I respect that. You can always send a virtual gift card to your educator’s school email. I will say, not all of us are coffee people and there are a lot of us with food issues, so maybe a card to Target or Amazon if you aren’t sure what your teacher likes, is best. And never feel like it has to be a lot. Even a $5 Amazon card is more than enough for us.
Honestly, most educators do this job because they want to and really enjoy what they do, so you never have to say anything or do anything for us to keep showing up everyday.
This year is difficult for everyone, and we know when the world is “back to normal”, we’re going to have a lot of work to do with our students to get them back/close to on track and teacher/educators will do their fair share, because it’s what we do. We’re just hoping we have the support of our parents too because all of us together will make this a lot easier for our students to regain some sense of normalcy.