| By Gale Staff |
Teachers deserve our appreciation throughout the year. They help children grow emotionally, develop lifelong friendships, and learn essential skills for future professional success. Most adults still fondly remember the teachers from their childhood who inspired and encouraged them. The past few years have been challenging for the education field and have further demonstrated teachers’ invaluable role. Their patience and support throughout and post-pandemic are essential tools for the recovery of the education system.
For that reason and many others, it’s more important than ever to acknowledge and thank our teachers and education professionals. World Teachers’ Day is October 5, and we’d like to share some ideas for celebrating these humble, hardworking classroom heroes. We invite everyone to participate, whether parents, students, school administrators, or community members. After all, everyone who has ever been a student has benefited from a teacher’s efforts.
The holiday itself has a valuable history within the context of education. World Teachers’ Day commemorates the 1966 Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), came together to declare education a fundamental human right. Teachers are essential to achieving that remarkable goal. In that spirit, World Teacher’s Day marks not just an important moment in education’s history, but it presents an opportunity to advocate for the teaching profession and thank the teachers in our lives.
Reflect on Our Teachers
This year’s World Teacher’s Day theme is “Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery.” The pandemic upended industries and livelihoods worldwide, but the education sector was particularly affected. Millions of students spent the pandemic years in front of a screen while teachers tirelessly sought strategies to inspire learning in a remote environment. Meanwhile, children suffered from isolation and lost loved ones to the virus. Educators, in turn, used their creativity and compassion to develop community-building efforts via Zoom and social media. Some teachers even coordinated care package deliveries to students at home —a testament to the lengths teachers will go to for their students.
While students have since returned to the classroom, the pandemic’s political, academic, and emotional consequences linger. COVID-19 significantly affected students’ test scores and mental well-being, and because of heightened stress and professional burnout in schools, the country faces a serious teacher shortage. It’s a problem that the entire world is facing.
And yet, many educators persevere. Veteran teachers continue showing up early each morning to facilitate engaging lesson plans for their students. Moreover, eager, empathetic individuals are excited to enter the profession. Teachers are essential to recovering the education system following the pandemic years. They have courageously adapted to new learning technologies, embraced social-emotional learning initiatives, and integrated strategies to combat learning loss. Teachers are not only the heart but the backbone of education recovery.
Rally for Our Teachers
Community members and school boards are sometimes on different pages. No matter where individuals stand in the current political debates around education, most can agree that teachers deserve respect. Parents and community members can support teachers by staying informed and finding ways to advocate for the education professionals in their local school district.
There are many education-related state and local bills in progress. Research those that might positively affect the teachers in your community. Some legislation seeks to fortify teacher work protections. Others help pave the way for more diverse educators. Rally behind those initiatives that aid and empower teachers. Call your local representative and express encouragement for the policies that matter to you. Share reliable information about these initiatives within your networks. Or ask teachers directly how your voice could help support them. You could organize a fundraiser or coordinate an outreach campaign for an issue that impacts them.
Recognize Our Teachers
You don’t have to be an activist to celebrate World Teacher’s Day this October. Plenty of small, meaningful ways exist to express our gratitude for the teachers in our communities.
Grant a Wish
Many teachers rely on online wish lists for classroom supplies and books. You can help by sharing their links and spreading the word about the items your local classrooms need to thrive. Use social media, parent newsletters, or whatever communication methods work for your community. Why not get a motivated group together for World Teachers’ Day and make a significant dent in those wish lists?
Say Thank You
It seems simple, but how often do people pause and say thank you to the teachers in our local school districts? There are plenty of ideas to express gratitude, whether verbally, with a card or email, or through fun posters around town! Make colorful lawn signs or banners with your kids. Connect with a teacher from your childhood and let them know how they positively impacted your life. Sharing your positive feedback and gratitude can make a big difference in a teacher’s day.
Send Treats to the Teacher’s Lounge
Find out what special treats your local teachers enjoy. You can deliver cookies, bagels, coffee, donuts, or other fun goodies to the school for the teacher’s lounge. Teachers get up early and work hard throughout the day, and a small, thoughtful effort like this can be especially meaningful.
Give a Gift
Consider giving a gift to your child’s teacher. You could even coordinate a group gift from the other parents whose children share the same class. Gift certificates and self-care items make great gestures and acknowledge the hard work and stress that teachers manage.
Create World Teacher Day Art
Administrators, classroom assistants, or school librarians can organize a student art project that celebrates the teachers in the school. You can prompt children to share what they love about their teacher and create a collage of their responses. Older students could write down their answers and create a scrapbook or collective journal to share with their instructor. Your teachers can return to these resources when they need a reminder of their positive impact.
To provide educational opportunities for all children and meet the ambitious goals of the UNESCO/ILO recommendations, we need to invest in and nurture teachers worldwide. They are integral to helping children recover from the social and academic pandemic. It’s easy to get caught up in our personal and professional responsibilities, but World Teachers’ Day reminds us that anyone can help support and recognize the teaching profession. Check out the World Teachers’ Day page for more information and ways to celebrate.