A teacher reviews a student’s work in English class.

The feedback from parents over the past year has been overwhelming. Cries of, “Wow, how do teachers do it?” and “I never truly appreciated teachers until this year” pervaded the Internet as exhausted parents became homeschooling teachers when COVID-19 forced schools to close their doors and shift to remote and hybrid models. Today, a year after the start of the coronavirus crisis, while schools are planning to resume full-time, on-campus classroom activity, parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Parents everywhere have learned just how challenging it is to teach math to a third-grade child, build a successful rocket ship science experiment, and guide their child through a book report. We have always appreciated teachers, but now we better empathize with their struggles and could not be more grateful that they have committed to the education and skill development needed to raise the next generation of community leaders.

May is Teacher Appreciation Month. This month, and always, we’re celebrating our teachers. For school leaders, here are five ways to say thank you to the teachers in your life—while remaining socially distanced for just a little while longer.

1. Host a Virtual Appreciation Event

Nothing feels better than being acknowledged and recognized. Coordinate a virtual appreciation event for your teachers and gather via video chat to recognize every teacher’s contributions. To keep the sessions intimate and ensure everyone feels seen and heard, consider hosting the events at the individual team or grade level.

2. Promote Teacher Appreciation Month Across All Communication Channels

Make the month of May all about teacher appreciation. Work with your administrators to include information about Teacher Appreciation Month on the school’s website, social media channels, email newsletters, and at PTO/PTA meetings. By spreading the word about May’s focus on teachers, you will elevate its awareness, which may encourage grateful parents and students to show their love, which will reinforce teachers’ feelings of being acknowledged.

3. Ask Room Parents to Get Creative

For younger classrooms with room parents, encourage your classroom liaisons to be creative in recognizing their teachers. They may return with video messages, poems, artwork, and handmade cards from students—all of which will make teachers feel cherished.

4. Give the Gift of Stress Relief

A 2018 study found that 93 percent of elementary school teachers report experiencing a high-stress level. If budget allows, give every teacher a gift certificate for an activity that will promote stress relief, such as a gift card to a local yoga studio or a meditation app.

5. Enable Teachers to Give Back

Giving back to the community or a meaningful cause boosts feelings of happiness and satisfaction. This May, host a day of service where teachers can participate in a local philanthropic event, whether it’s an event coordinated by the school or encouragement that teachers find a cause about which they feel passionate and volunteer for a few hours outside of typical classroom hours.

The way that our world thinks of our teachers has changed forever because of COVID-19. Many parents, colleagues, and leaders want to show teachers how much they are appreciated. While all of the ideas listed here are powerful, the most important thing you can do for your school teachers is simply to say thank you.

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages

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