It strikes me as more than a little ironic how the most appreciation we’ve ever had for our kids’ teachers is during a time in which none of them are even in a classroom. During this pandemic, we’ve had the slightest taste of what teachers do all day, every day—wrangle with short attention spans, irritated dispositions and uncooperative technology; and that’s just with our own kids, not a classroom full of ‘em.
I’ve said before that what we’re doing right now is not true “homeschooling.” It’s some cobbled-together nonsense that doesn’t come anywhere near resembling actual classroom instruction. But that’s not really anyone’s fault, least of all our teachers.
Teachers have had to scramble to create some kind of plan to keep our kids doing something educational, all via email and ClassDojo and Zoom and facilitated by Very Stressed Out parents. And they’re doing this while also often caring for their own young children. And while sending repeated reminders to—ahem—certain parents to check that their kids are actually submitting the assignments they are completing, as this is apparently a key component. Or so I hear.
The appreciation, it is strong right now. And given that today kicks off Teacher Appreciation Week, it’s a good time to express it. Of course, we can’t do that via the traditional method of sending a card or a gift to school with our child … so we’re going to have to get a little creative this year. Here are a few ideas:
Send a video thank-you note
We’re all about the video right now, anyway; why should this be any different? Take a video of your child (or your whole family!) thanking the teacher. If they get nervous or aren’t sure what to say, have them write their message in advance and read their thank-you note to the camera.
Send a picture of your kid’s artwork
If your child prefers to express their gratitude through art rather than words, have them draw or paint a picture for their teacher—and then send them a picture of it. It’s not the same as being able to hold the original artwork in their hands, but it’s the grateful thought here that counts. (Bonus points if you coordinate with other parents in the classroom to send over one big batch of artwork pictures.)
Send an e-gift card
My go-to teacher gift tends to be a handwritten note, a sweet treat of some kind and a gift card to their favourite coffee provider or retail store. Many restaurants and retailers, including lots of local businesses right now, will allow you to send e-gift cards to an email address, and if you can afford it, it would be a nice touch.
Send a personal note
Little messages from the kids are great, but I also think it’s important for parents to acknowledge their own gratitude for teachers—especially now when any face-to-face contact we might have had during drop-offs, pick-ups or parent-teacher conferences has come to a screeching halt. Simply type it up and send it via email or whatever messaging app you typically use to communicate.
As I was writing this, I got a message from my son’s teacher. For the first time since mid-March, she was allowed back into her classroom to clean it out before some planned construction was set to begin. She wanted to let the parents know that she was bagging up and labelling all of her students’ belongings that were left behind to be collected … at some point.
How surreal it must have been for her to walk back into a classroom that now seems frozen in a moment in time; hoodies still hanging from hooks, lunch boxes forgotten on a shelf, stacks of blank classwork they’ll never complete. How unresolved she must feel to not get to see the kids she’d spent several months with, to not get to really finish teaching them all she wanted them to learn, to not get to say a real goodbye.
That deserves all the appreciation we can show.