Teacher Appreciation Week 2021 has a new poignancy this year. Our teachers always show up, and we’re always grateful for them, but this past year the dedication, creativity, adaptability, and compassion they brought into their virtual and in-person classrooms has been nothing short of amazing.
Although teacher burnout is a hot topic in education and mainstream media right now, there are many signs of hope for the teaching profession as we move forward.
Parents have a deeper appreciation for teachers, and many districts report that parent engagement has increased dramatically. This gives educators and parents the opportunity to continue a collaborative relationship long after the pandemic is over.
Most teachers love teaching. They don’t want to leave their jobs. According to a new special report in Education Week, “Teaching is, in its essence, about relationships—understanding students’ needs, fostering their passions, figuring out what makes them tick. To give up that work, for many, would be a deep loss.”
Commemorative days and weeks are always a good lever for having mindful appreciation of people who make a difference. But Teacher Appreciation Day can—and should—be every day.
Here are some ideas for making your teachers feel appreciated year-round
Listen. How do you define the needs of each school and, on even a more granular level, each student? Include your teachers in discussions and planning. This recent podcast, “Tapping into Teacher Expertise to Inform the Future of Education,” included a discussion about giving educators opportunities to share their experiences with each other featuring John Watson, the founder of Evergreen Education Group and the upcoming Digital Learning Annual Conference.
Have compassion. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, teaching was ranked as one of the most stressful occupations in the United States, tied only with nursing—and that was before a global pandemic. Some education leaders are suggesting that social-emotional learning should expand from a student-focused initiative to one that includes teachers as well. Finding ways to support the mental health and physical well-being of your teachers helps them feel valued.
Streamline communication. Finding the right balance of communication between district leaders, administrators, teachers, parents, and students can be tricky. Having a streamlined communication strategy that is proactive, interactive, and empathetic can support teachers as well as families and students. On a recent podcast, we shared the best practices from Tucson Unified School District for streamlining district-wide communication, and you can listen to it here.
Support creativity. Chances are, you’ve seen some innovative ways your teachers have responded to abrupt changes that affect how they deliver learning and connect with their students. Watch for those “aha” moments, acknowledge your teacher, and add it to a running list of innovations that might stick after the pandemic.
Streamline your tech. As districts adopt new technology, many times teachers feel like they’ve dropped into a technological Wild West where communication is chaotic and getting up to speed is demanding. On a recent blog, we shared three ways to streamline your digital ecosystem to make using it a smoother experience for your teachers, which makes it a smoother experience for students and families, too.
Prioritize PD and support. One teacher recently told NPR that “it feels like we’re building the plane while we’re flying it.” One way to dramatically reduce stress for teachers is to provide training and professional development to ramp them up on your tech ecosystem. Here’s how one district in Glendale, California, supported its teachers in blended and virtual learning environments.
Offer flexibility. Just like many families, many teachers have discovered they appreciate the increased flexibility of hybrid and virtual school schedules. Allowing teachers some level of remote work can help them be more efficient and improve their work-life balance. Additionally, having remote meetings, including virtual parent-teacher conferences, PD trainings, and team check-ins, encourages increased attendance and engagement. This special report from Education Week offers four ways districts are giving teachers more flexibility.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! For more resources and inspiration, visit our website, where you’ll find a robust library of blogs, webinars, and podcasts.