Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, and it is my first as an administrator. I wanted to take a moment to share how enormously impressed I am with the teachers at my school, my district, throughout the state, heck the whole world! Being on the other side of the classroom, observing from the back, I am constantly impressed by the commitment teachers show each and every day to kids. Our kids. But now? Now, I am blown away with what teachers have done.With little notice, tech experience, or knowledge of the pedagogy behind distance learning (yes, it is different), our schools are open for kids, staffed with open minds and open hearts.
My admin team meets with our teachers (via Google Hangouts) weekly. When I ask teachers how I can help, the first answer is always, “Can you get the kids to complete work?” Getting kids to do any work and just show up has been such a challenge for most teachers. So many kids struggle doing work at home. Homes are either not a great environment or just have too many distractions. It’s hard for us as adults, but kids have a hard time even seeing the benefit of turning off Netflix, putting down the video game controller and learning about Reconstruction or the physics of a roller coaster. Of course, in the defense of all students, especially teenagers, it is Spring after all.
Another significant struggle teachers are facing is that they did not sign up to be online teachers. They are in this job because they love building relationships with kids. As my neighbor told me about her 5th graders, “I wasn’t done with them.” They didn’t get to do the last three months of school which are truly the most fun for teachers. It is when students show us what they learned. It is the time of projects, presentations, and all the gems that fill teachers’ buckets. Spring is the best time of the school year. Hosting a Zoom call is not exactly the Spring showcase to a year’s worth of student growth.
Through this all, our teachers have been persevering. They’ve learned Zoom, FlipGrid, EdPuzzle, Google Classroom and all the ways to keep track of the onslaught of digital submissions and email threads. They’ve reached out to kids via phone, email and even driven to houses. Above all, teachers love their students. Quarantine isn’t going to stop that love from radiating from the homebound classrooms. Whether it’s from bedrooms, closets, or kitchen tables, teachers are proving once again that they are my heroes. So, thank you for caring, thank you for adapting and thank you for loving our kids. We appreciate you!