Years ago, I felt called to become a teacher. I was working full-time in the private-sector and was feeling like I needed more time at home with my son, who was not quite one yet. In my head, this was a perfect fit, I would go into work at 8AM, be home by 3PM, and have the entire summer, as well as holidays to spend more time with my son. What occupation could be a better balance of work and family, right?
Fast-forward through six weeks of Alternative Certification Training, as well as a few weeks in Summer School as a Student Teacher, and BAM! I’m a Teacher! A real one, with a classroom all my own and 125+ students passing through my door each day, relying on me for their education and their future. Enter major anxiety and daily emotional breakdowns. Teaching is hard work, y’all. It didn’t take long for me to realize that teaching wasn’t just a job, it was a lifestyle. While your “work day” may begin and end during school hours, that doesn’t factor in the time it takes for lesson planning and implementation, grading, conferences, after-school meetings and extra-curricular activities that aren’t exactly optional, by the way. Oh, and summer break? Yeah, that’s sort of an illusion, as well, considering I spent a good two weeks in required trainings/seminars at the beginning of my summer, as well as another two weeks at the end of the summer prepping my classroom/lessons for the next school year. That left me with one month total, which was barely enough time to recoup from the school year and regain what was left of my sanity and composure.
While I only spent 2 full years in the classroom as a teacher, it was enough to open my eyes to their situation and give me a better understanding of the sacrifices they make and the love they have toward the families they serve. This is why I choose to make a year-long effort toward serving my child’s teacher and seizing opportunities to bless them in any way that I can.
Here are some ideas I thought I’d share in hopes that we will all begin to embrace the idea of “Year-long Teacher Appreciation”, rather than the designated one week at the end of the school year:
Sign up to be a Room Parent
To many of you these two words can seem pretty intimidating. Planning parties for 20+ kids may not sound like your cup of tea. However, it truly is a relatively easy way to support your child’s teacher and it comes with some pretty major advantages. First, you’re alleviating the stress of coordinating events from your child’s teacher. This frees up the teacher’s time, which allows them to keep their focus on educating your child. Second, it fosters more communication with the parents in your child’s class, as well as the teacher. It’s a win-win!
Volunteer at School
While many parents may think this is not an option for them since they work full-time, don’t write it off just yet. Volunteering doesn’t necessarily mean spending an entire day performing one particular activity. There are many opportunities to help out in small increments of time and they can often be done before, during, and after school hours. Every teacher’s needs are different, but some ideas could include monitoring the class during recess or lunch while the teacher gets to sit down to eat a meal. Often times, teachers don’t have a scheduled lunch break believe it or not. And if they do, they don’t really get to sit and eat. They spend more time opening ketchups & straws or cutting meat for little ones. If you could just occasionally volunteer 30 minutes of your day, I know most teachers would love it! This is something that you could sign up to do on your own lunch break once a month. For parents with more time available, offering to stop in once a week to work on a project or make copies is always helpful, as well. In the younger age classes, I’ve had teachers send home a bag of items to be cut out. My hubs and I would spend an evening winding down watching a TV show, while cutting out various shapes for the next day’s class project. It’s these small gestures that go a long way with a teacher and frees them up from tedious activities to allow them to focus on the bigger picture.
Send treats, praise & more treats!
Often times, a little note of encouragement will go a long way with a teacher. Letting them know you appreciate their hard work can boost their spirits and ultimately create a more positive environment for your child to learn. Ooh, and if you send a sweet treat or a healthy snack along with it, all the better!
There are so many ways to bless a teacher if we just begin looking for opportunities. While the end-of-the-year week-long extravaganza is great, I believe teachers deserve our appreciation all year long!