At the end of March, a team at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence launched a survey to help learn about the emotional lives of teachers during COVID-19. In a span of just three days, they received over 5,000 responses with a (not so) shocking consistency. The five most mentioned feelings included: anxiety, fear, worry, overwhelm and sadness. With anxiety leading the pack. (Again, no surprise.)
And yet, even with this swirl of difficult emotions and unknown, teachers across the country rallied to partner with us as parents as we continued the academic process with our children to finish out the school year. Fast forward to fall 2020 and every single one of us is encountering yet another new version of school, no matter if we are back in the classroom or distance learning as we continue to work towards community wellness amidst COVID-19.
“Emotions Matter. Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships and health.” ~YCEI
With this in mind, I’ve been considering how I can support my kids’ teachers as school begins. This year it feels more important than ever to make an effort to rally around our kids and their teachers as we could all use some extra encouragement.
Here is a quick list of ideas and gifts to encourage and welcome back our teachers this year! Be sure to add your ideas in the comments below!
Ways to Connect
- Get to know your teachers. Especially this year as most of our kids are not in the classroom, making the effort to still get to know your teachers will go a long way.
- With that in mind, coordinate an evening Zoom coffee hour for parents and teachers to meet together to get to know each other and connect. It could be a one time thing, or maybe even monthly.
- Offer to help. I realize this suggestion is rather vague, but simply offering to help goes a long way. Can you host a class teaching something? It could be Math, Biology or Art… or maybe even cooking or poetry writing… Can you coordinate a virtual reading corner where you read the class a few chapters a week in a great book? How can you help your child’s teacher really engage and reach the students this year?
- Work with your kids on video conference etiquette. Remind them they are still in class, even if they are learning from home. Encourage them to sit up, make eye contact, be good listeners and participate when asked. Their excitement and energy is important!
- Give your teachers the benefit of the doubt. We are all on a roller coaster of a learning curve with new systems, processes and technologies. And on top of that, inflection and intent can so often be lost in text and email communication – which will be our main form of connection with many of our teachers. So start off assuming the best and see where that takes you! (And maybe take a page from my tendency towards loquaciousness… and over communicate. At least at first.)
- Deliver flowers or a plant.
- Coffee, of course. Thank goodness for electronic gift cards!
- Along the coffee theme, send them a unique coffee mug or water bottle. With all of the talking required when teaching remotely, they would probably appreciate a new mug!
- Gift cards to Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon for classroom supplies whether you are back at school or distance learning, teachers still need supplies.
- Coordinate a class donation in the teacher’s name.
- Collect pictures and thank you notes from the class to mail/email. Send them all at once, or one per week to continue the encouragement throughout the year.
- Put together a pandemic care package with disinfectant wipes, facial tissue, hand sanitizer, face shield and a cool face mask with matching mask chain.
- Or put together any kind of care package with a fun theme!
- Sharpies. I hear from my teacher friends they always need more Sharpie markers. But really any fun kind of pens and markers… because why not?
- Send them out to dinner by giving them a gift card to a favorite restaurant.
- Treat them to a spa day.
So tell me… what are your ideas??? Let’s start this school year with a wave of kindness and encouragement!