Connecting With Our Teachers for Appreciation Week

Every May, we have the opportunity to recognize our teachers and show them our gratitude during Teacher Appreciation Week. This May will be no exception though it will be significantly different given 2020 is the year we’ve all had to digest the term “distance learning.” COVID-19 has changed education in many ways, from where we learn to how we learn. This journey has not been easy for anyone: teachers, students, or parents. Parents have picked up a new job facilitating online learning all while helping structure their children’s days to allow for productivity for their entire families. Students are now sitting in front of screens to receive curriculum lessons with little peer-engagement, minimal class discussion time, and barely, if any tactile learning experiences. And teachers have been challenged to scrap nearly 4 months of lesson plans to redesign new online assignments and teach to a seemingly empty room. This journey has not been easy for anyone. 

One of the reasons people are drawn to teaching is the opportunity to work in a classroom, face to face with students, and make a difference in young people’s lives. As a former teacher and always believer in “once a teacher, always a teacher,” I will speak on behalf of all of us when I say that connection with students is a major driving force. This connection has been disrupted and has completed shifted teaching for so many educators. Teaching isn’t just lectures and grading. It isn’t just reminders to dot your “i” and cross your “t”. Teaching is about connection. Connecting your students to the lessons by making them relevant to their own lives. Bridging the gaps to allow your student to make their way to: “Yes! Now I get it!” Connecting with and addressing the emotion behind the young person who’s pushing back and saying: “I can’t do it.” 

Even though the classroom looks different, teachers are still doing everything they can to make that connection happen. We have seen so many wonderful examples of this over the past month – like the middle school math teacher who went to his student’s house to help her with her homework, the countless teacher parades cruising the neighborhoods just to catch a glimpse of their students and families, and the teacher who celebrated a student’s birthday by decorating their driveway. This coming week, we have the opportunity to connect with our teachers and share our gratitude. There’s something so special and powerful behind the words: Thank You. 

In my seven years of teaching, I was blessed to receive many gifts from parents and students. From Valentine’s Day to End-of-Year thank you’s and Teacher Appreciation Week, my students’ families always made sure to let me know they recognized my efforts. There were so many wonderful handmade drawings and cards that shared beautiful and kind sentiments that moved me. I still have so many of those cards and love to read them for the occasional pick-me-up! Teaching is such a challenging (and rewarding) career. As we all know, the pay rarely if ever reflects the work. That is why gifts, large and small, can mean so much to teachers. 

With Teacher Appreciation Week approaching, I wanted to share a few ideas on how you can still appreciate and connect with the teachers in your life even while we physically distance. These ideas range from practical use in the classroom/home office to a little something extra special for that caring teacher. 

Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas:
-Something for the at-home office: laminators, circuits, an ergonomic seat cushion, anti-blue light screen protector, colorful pens + sharpies, handheld whiteboard + markers
-Something for when we are on the move again: personalized tote bags, tumbler, travel coffee mug, insulated lunch cooler bag
-Something to help warm them up and keep them going: quality beans, pods, tea, milk frother, french press, tea infusers 
-Something for their home: succulents or air plants, candles, wireless speaker
-Something sweet: Send them something from a local bakery or ice cream shop
-Something to unwind with: face mask, luxurious hand cream, a gift card for Sephora
-Gift cards: Amazon, Target, grocery stores, local restaurants, streaming services like Hulu or Netflix

We know showing appreciation does not always mean spending money. Sharing your thoughts in a card, video, or email are also wonderful ways to show your appreciation! If you find yourself in a place where you can send a gift, shopping for your teachers directly through AmazonSmile can multiply your kindness! A portion of your everyday shopping, at no extra cost, can go to benefit Born This Way Foundation. Click here to link your account today!  

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