Back to School – Teacher Appreciation Time

Anyone remember how, in the before times, parents would complain about those annoyingly specific school supply lists their kids were sent home with? Or how the 37 emails they sent their child’s teacher were not all answered in the first five minutes? Or how their teacher was not taking enough extra time out of their day to fully encourage their child to be all that they could be?

If the last year has taught us anything, other than how quickly the entire world can change, it is how invaluable our teachers truly are.

So this year, as we prepare to go back to school either digitally or in-person, lets show our teachers some love.

Summer vacation may have ruled for the last two months, but I want you to think back to those three long, lonely, stressful months at the end of last school year. When suddenly the kids were at home the classes were online and there was only so much teacher could do to help given a cobbled together online platform, limited resources, and exactly zero time to plan. I want you to think back to how tired and stressful and overwhelming it was to suddenly be responsible for the education of a child… then multiply that by 30 for elementary school and 100 for middle and high school.

Our teachers go through so much. They go in early, work through lunch, and stay late all for a depressingly low salary that barely competes with the cost of living. They buy school supplies with their own money because schools just won’t and they take time out of their evenings and weekends to help our students when they struggle and are falling behind.

Last year we were all starkly reminded of how much teachers do and how little support they receive. It is about time we do something to change that.

Support Raising Teacher Pay

In light of the unprecedented challenges teachers faced across the board this month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed historic raise in teacher pay… to 47,500. In a state where the cost of living is among the highest in the country (behind New York, California, and Hawaii) this salary would put a family of 4 just $5,000 over the maximum income for eligibility for food stamps. Make no mistake, this increase is vastly appreciated and has been a long time coming. But it has also taken so very long in coming that the increase simply isn’t enough to compete with inflation anymore.

In addition, teachers have been denied the possibility of hazard pay when schools reopen fully, which is the current plan going forward in Florida, and are at risk for losing their jobs entirely if they have outstanding health or medical conditions (or live with someone who does) which may make their being in a classroom too dangerous. Teachers will be putting their own health and the health of their families on the line to teach in crowded classrooms in facilities which the Department of Education has acknowledged are simply not possible to enforce social distancing in, so that they can be $5,000 over the food stamps line.

This legislation was a huge step forward, but that does not mean it is time to stop. It is so crucial that we continue to advocate for not only advancements in teacher pay, but better resource allocation for equipment and access to supplies, and smaller classrooms to alleviate overcrowding. Teachers have enough to deal with, right now more than ever. And while the long-awaited boost in income is most certainly welcome, trying to find enough glue sticks and deal with an overcrowded classroom is not something that teachers should be responsible for.

Speak up. Stay involved. Advocate for Teachers Pay and Rights. Vote in local as well as statewide and federal elections not just for candidates but also specific policies. Often times massive education reform is not enacted simply because it is a footnote on a larger bill that no one bothers to read fully and vote for. Stay informed of policies affecting education in your area and act on them.

How We Can Support Teachers NOW

Do you remember complaining about those school supply wish lists that teachers always ask for when your kids were in elementary school? I mean, why are they asking for paper towels? It’s not like the schools are failing to provide essential supplies and forcing teachers to go out to Target and Dollar Tree and spend their own money on basic equipment, right?

If you in a position where you are able, and not everyone is, many families have gone without a reliable income for months now, but if you are –

BUY ALL THE DAMN GLUE STICKS

Go to the Dollar Tree and clear that sucker out. Glue sticks, scissors, highlighters, notebooks, paper towels, index cards. If you think a teacher or student might need to make use of this in a classroom at some point over the next five years, you put that stuff in your cart and you load up! I want to see every single classroom with a small mountain of a stockpile of supplies in the corner so that no teacher has to even THINK about running out to buy supplies with their own money every again. Have a Costco membership? Even better. Notebooks, pencils, paper towels – the works. Coordinate with other parents or the PTA. Make sure these people, the ones who will be educating your kids for the next year under incredibly trying circumstances, could never want for anything.

Going back to school online? Send supplies anyway, schools will reopen eventually. Get your teacher a Nat Geo membership, or download course materials and resources online that you know they will need but the school board won’t be paying for. Share your discovery.science login! Or program software or your expertise.

If you don’t have the extra $10, $20, $50 dollars to spend on school supplies right now that is absolutely fine, not everyone does. If you are able, try and volunteer your time or resources where you can – be a classroom parent, help out coordinating school supplies, offer to print things off, come in on a weekend to help repair old desks or fix up the playground, volunteer to help make classroom materials if you are skilled at photoshop or Canva. Use your time, expertise, or resources in whatever way you can.

Once the classrooms are taken care of and the students have the supplies they need, don’t be afraid to show your child’s teachers a little love. Fill the teachers’ lounge with Costco sized buckets of coffee and piles of non-perishable snacks (no nuts). Consider donating a new microwave or coffee pot or printer or comfortable desk chair. Hell, bring a few bottles of wine (no, probably don’t do that…).

Most importantly, ask your teachers what it is that they NEED, and make sure that they have it. No one likes going into work and not having the essential equipment they rely on to do their job well. Teachers, more than most, have been making due for a long time. It’s time to show them how much they mean to us, to our kids, and to our sanity. And in case you need a little more incentive … remember trying to teach your kid common core fractions las year?


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