Celebrating Teachers All Year Long

kylepace-illustration-rounded.png

Illustration by Kate Moore.

Today's post is a guest blog by friend of Pear Deck, Kyle Pace.

This time of year gets me thinking about Valentine’s Day. Weird, right? It may seem like a stretch, but as we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, I can’t help but think of Valentine's Day. Even if you’re not a hopeless romantic, you can surely agree that the sentiment behind Valentine’s Day—letting someone know that they're loved—is philosophically good. Yet for me, that big day of hearts and flowers in February has one inherent flaw: showing love and appreciation really shouldn’t be limited to just one day!  What if we took the time to let our loved ones know how we feel throughout the year? The same is true for our teachers.

Being a teacher can be a tough calling. I was raised by a teacher, then I became a teacher. It means more and more constantly added to your plate, working well beyond normal working hours, and often participating in PD on your own time. It can be overwhelming, emotionally taxing, and just plain hard. We need to make sure we remind each other of all the great things about being a teacher, and to those outside of education: make sure you let a teacher know how much you appreciate them all year!

 I’m an educator, but I’m also a parent, so I live on both the giving and receiving ends of this issue. Here’s my handy guide to showing appreciation.  

Random Acts of Kindness & “Keepers”

I am a big proponent of random acts of kindness. I don't do it as often as I'd like, but surprising someone with a gesture or note of thanks is my favorite way to show appreciation. A simple message of encouragement can make a big difference in someone’s day. I have a folder in my email called "Keepers". It's where I keep those emails of encouragement, compliments, and other feel-good messages. Reading them can really come in handy on a hard day. Those are the kind of positivity bursts that can change the course of an otherwise rough day for the better.

Admins Can Lead the Way

Educational leaders ought to take up this mantle as well. District and school leaders need to make sure teachers know they are appreciated and valued because school morale starts at the top. There are lots of creative ways to do this! It can be something formal like a special breakfast at a staff meeting, or just making a run to the coffee shop (or equivalent) to grab everybody their favorite drink and deliver them during the school day. Heck, it can be as simple as passing out a jeans coupon! Whatever the gesture, letting teachers know that you see their work and appreciate them for it goes a long way.

Parents: Go beyond the homeroom

When parents make a concerted effort to show our kids’ teachers they're appreciated beyond just the first week of May it’s really special. I mean, some of these teachers spend more hours a day with our kids than we do! Remember: even if your child is still in elementary school, they have more than one teacher. Beyond the teacher listed as their "official" teacher, we cannot forget Art, Music, P.E., etc. that also impact our kids' lives. A show of appreciation doesn't have to be anything that costs money. A simple handwritten note (or email) can be very meaningful! You never know, your note might just make it into that teacher’s “Keeper” file.

Teachers Can Show Each Other Some Love

Never underestimate the value of lateral shows of appreciation. Teachers, don't forget that you have a school full of colleagues that need to know they're appreciated just like you do! Maybe you have a mentor teacher that really helped you get through your first year of teaching; maybe it’s the music teacher who worked tirelessly to pull off that super fun production of "The Three Piggy Opera", or the brand new teacher down the hall who feels like there isn't enough coffee in the world? There's always a colleague close by that could use some appreciation! Get the peer-appreciation rolling and it might just come back full circle!

I hope you’ll take these ideas and run with them! I can’t emphasize enough the importance of making teacher appreciation a year-round observance. It’s something I’m committing to and I hope you’ll join me. Meanwhile, let’s make this Teacher Appreciation Week one for the books. Your note of encouragement may be the thing that turns a teacher’s career around!