Teachers Deserve Our Appreciation Every Day

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This past year the COVID-19 pandemic has affected every facet of our society, perhaps nowhere more starkly than the education sector. Despite the massive disruption caused by COVID-19, teachers have persevered, with the best interests of students at the top of their minds. They deserve an enormous amount of thanks as well as the continued support from all of us to carry on in this challenging environment. Appreciation for teachers should not last just one week – they should constantly feel our gratitude.

Teachers inherently thrive in a bustling classroom, building relationships with their students and being the catalyst for those “lightbulb” moments. When schools closed in the spring of 2020, the abrupt switch to remote learning was particularly challenging for teachers, who worked gamely to maintain connections with their students while juggling personal strains from the pandemic. In the fall of 2020, most teachers welcomed new students over Zoom or another digital platform. This was new, trying to build a relationship through a screen.

Having been a teacher myself, I know just how much teachers are relied on to both instruct children and provide social and emotional support. Most do this with compassion and the best of intentions. Last spring, when parents and caregivers were thrust into the role of teacher when schools transitioned online with little to no preparation, the overwhelming sentiment was that teachers were superheroes. By fall, however, parents were worn out, needing a break, and worried about their kids not thriving if they did not get back to in-person learning at school. At that time, many teachers felt vilified and expendable for voicing their concerns about being in a classroom when so much remained unknown about the transmission of the coronavirus.

Despite valid concerns about the health risks associated with returning, teachers nevertheless rose to the occasion, doing everything they could to support the children in their charge, whatever the mode of delivery, and in extraordinary circumstances. Teachers paraded by student homes to let students know they were missed, got creative with PE classes, and raised funds to help feed their most vulnerable students. These are just a few of countless incredible examples of what teachers have done to keep children moving forward during these challenging times.

During Teacher Appreciation Week, many state and federal policymakers honored educators, and in many states, teachers were prioritized for the vaccine, but much more must be done to support teachers and make teaching a sustainable career, including providing better working conditions, less stress, and a living wage.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank teachers for all that they have done over the past year and all that they will do in the future to help children succeed. And now it is up to us to provide teachers with the support they need to thrive in their vital vocation.  

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