“Teacher Appreciation Week” – like so much of our calendar – is a reminder of something that ought not be restricted to a week or a day. As memories these days seem to be shorter and shorter, we shouldn’t forget the burst of appreciation for what it means to be a teacher that bubbled up during COVID – a time where parents both saw firsthand and, in some cases, experienced firsthand all that it means to teach children. Those memories alone should be more than enough to remind us that we owe our teachers and those who care for our children much more than “appreciation”…
I have been in the field of Jewish day school since 2005 and the field of Jewish education since 1997. Stress, fatigue, under-appreciation, burnout – these factors have (sadly) always been present (as they have been in almost all forms of education, service work and nonprofits). The days of the 30-year teacher and/or administrator have been ending in slow motion for years and decades, but the exodus we – the field – are experiencing since COVID is unprecedented and potentially cataclysmic.
We have been both lucky and blessed at OJCS, pre-pandemic, during COVID, and post-pandemic with a significant number of veteran teachers and administrators who continue to make OJCS their address for their love of children and their passion for teaching, year after year. But that doesn’t mean that the last few years have not taken their toll. They have. And it certainly doesn’t mean that we should take their commitment and dedication for granted. We shouldn’t. What it means – to me – is that the small things that truly demonstrate “appreciation” matter now, more than ever. That, in fact, the small things couldn’t loom larger.
With Teacher Appreciation Week launching next week, our Admin, PTA and Board eagerly look forward to celebrating and spoiling our teachers. How, you may ask? Like this:
What could you do to make a huge difference to the overall wellbeing of our school? Simply pick an item from below (aggregated from lots of blog posts) and make a teacher’s day:
- A personalized note or email
- A homemade craft
- A hot meal
- Gift cards
- A personalized thank-you sign
- Small treasures
- Something special that reminds a teacher of his/her student(s)
- Alcohol (but check first!)
- Show up for school!
- Spa treatment
- Experiential gifts (like a remote yoga or dance class)
- Donations to a dream project
- Year-Round Advocacy
My personal suggestion? Absolutely send gift cards and post creatively on social media. Buy ads in yearbooks, post lawns signs and lead parades! Do any and all of the above list. Express your appreciation for all the things your child(ren)’s teacher(s) have done to learning as successful as it has been. Please.
But if you want to go the extra mile? Try assuming the best of our teachers – even when they have difficult truths to share. Give them the benefit of the doubt – even when they don’t communicate as well as they could. Treat them as partners – even when they make mistakes. Let’s not simply tell our teachers that we appreciate them; let’s actually appreciate them.
Please be sure to fill out this year’s Annual Parent Survey no later than May 15th if you want your results included in the public reporting!