MAKE THE LINE | BY DEBRA MEYER | 7 MIN OF READING
As this Thanksgiving season approaches in the United States, there is much to be thankful for and just as much hope.
The last Thanksgiving and the one to come have been shrouded in the unknown – with plans just out of reach for a âback to normalâ Thanksgiving filled with friends and family in large indoor group gatherings, without fear. a virus pandemic. The reasons we have these celebrations are forgotten in our rush to “get back to normal.” Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest and blessings throughout the year. The key to those thanks should be all of the people who have served selflessly throughout the pandemic.
This is why this blog is about “How to thank a teacher”, especially since these educators are going through a third school year impacted by COVID-19.
In spring 2020, teachers were called upon to move quickly to e-learning and connect with students in the event of an emergency. During the 2020-2021 school year, teachers had to navigate a myriad of health guidelines and changing school schedules. Everyone was hoping this year would be more consistent, but the higher transmissibility of the Delta variant and the return to school put many children and teens at the center of the pandemic storm.
Schools, depending on their location, did better this year. The teachers are exhausted, while still hoping. Teaching is a profession with intense emotional work. Emotional labor is common in many professions where the job requires constant attention to the needs of others and the expectation to keep a lot of people happy. This emotional work often results in the cover-up of personal emotions and high levels of stress and burnout.
Unsurprisingly, the stress of emotional labor during the pandemic has brought many teachers to a breaking point.
We have to thank the teachers because they are helping our children and young people through the pandemic. Going back to school also means helping our society, especially parents, to find a way forward.
Meanwhile, teachers have remained at the forefront in the pandemic. While there have been media reports of teachers considering leaving the profession – as well as new teachers re-examining entry – a pandemic exit has not happened.
Thank a teacher for taking care to introduce himself. Before the pandemic began, there was already a shortage of teachers, a large group of baby boom teachers was approaching retirement, and schools were struggling to retain teachers.
Teachers who teach during the pandemic remind us of how teaching is a caring profession that puts students first. Teachers know how important it is for students to return to school for academic and social and emotional reasons. And they have shown it to us through their actions.
So, this holiday season, consider three important actions you could easily take to thank the teachers in your life.
Thank them with kindness
Ask any teacher what was the most meaningful “gift” they have ever received and it will probably be a “thank you.” It could be a letter or email from a family member telling them how much the teacher made a difference in a child’s learning, or a handwritten note from a student. Some of us have treasured these memories for decades. They are stored in our desks and books, taken out and read whenever we need to renew our dedication.
Kindness comes in many forms: a smile, a heartfelt “thank you” or a written note, an email or a text. Quotes about kindness are everywhere, but the act of kindness requires interaction. Kindness is powerful in the smallest doses. A brief mention of appreciation during a school interaction or a quick note attached to an assignment can be powerful acts of kindness.
And cuteness doesn’t have to be random. Let it be coherent and sincere. Give a teacher a year of kindness by committing to a regular, benevolent interaction with all the teachers in your life.
Thank them with patience
Patience is another way to thank a teacher. Teachers have incredibly busy days with little time to take a minute for themselves. From the moment they walk through the school door until they exit, teachers are “on”. The expectations that they can immediately resend messages or easily add another “to do” to their lists are not only unrealistic, but they can also be obnoxious.
Patience is a key emotional skill in teaching. When teachers are patient, they make more informed decisions and respond with more calm and empathy. Patience helps teachers maintain their emotional well-being throughout the always difficult and unpredictable school day. When teachers receive the patience of others, they can provide a more positive learning experience for students.
To thank a teacher with patience means to interact in a way that assumes the best – accepting that mistakes are common – especially in pandemic conditions in P-12 grades.
To thank a teacher with patience is to think carefully about requests, especially last minute, without jumping to conclusions. Consider being patient by asking questions instead of making requests and not demanding immediate answers. When there is a problem at school, avoid making assumptions, get all the facts, and consider other ways to resolve the problem. Patience is a gift that keeps on giving.
Thank them with respect
Thanking a teacher with respect, in addition to acts of kindness and patience, broadens appreciation for the profession as a whole.
Respecting teaching means advocating and supporting better working conditions and the professional development of educators. Teaching in many parts of the world, and particularly in the United States, is not a well-respected profession. As a recent report revealed, “most people underestimate how many hours teachers work and how much they get paid.” While this workload was underestimated before the pandemic, it is invaluable in today’s climate.
How are teachers respected? They have a choice and a voice in their teaching and professional decisions. In the spring of 2020, several authors hypothesized that the rapid switch to online learning would foster increased appreciation from teachers. However, a real show of respect for teachers would be to include them in high-level decisions made that impact their students’ learning, teaching and professional growth.
Thanking a teacher with respect is complex and requires commitment. Respect means showing teachers that their knowledge and skills are valued. Respect can be demonstrated through interactions where teachers or teaching are discussed, advocating for teacher salaries and benefits, and ensuring teachers have the professional development and resources they need. .
Respecting a teacher is more than appreciating, it is valuing their time and professional expertise. Teachers feel respected when they are listened to, when asked for and followed for professional advice, and when they can use their professional expertise to make a difference.
Today’s educators are experiencing great upheavals in their profession. Everything has changed, from physical classroom spaces and school routines to the selection of educational content, schedules and available resources.
But they are full of hope, as their endurance shows.
So, by the end of the school year (and not just during the holidays), consider thanking a teacher by adopting three simple goals and implementing them whenever possible:
- Be willingly kind in person or in writing, and involve your child and other families, as well as the community at large, in these acts of kindness.
- Be patient and demonstrate an understanding of the complexity and time demands of teaching. Give grace.
- Teacher advocate in a way that honors their professional knowledge and skills as being among the most important in our society. Counter the anti-educator rhetoric by asking questions and uplifting teachers so that they can do their best every day with our students.
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