Teachers are getting ready to face one of the most difficult challenges of their careers: teaching during a global pandemic. Many teachers are anxious and frightened. Administrators are scrambling like crazy to make schools as safe as possible. Parents and students are on-edge. Yet one thing is certain: on the first day of school, millions of teachers will put on their masks, head into their classrooms, and do the very best they can to make their students feel safe, welcomed, and loved.
These teacher heroes deserve to be rewarded. Administrators and community members can make this happen. Lifting teachers’ spirits during this time is a noble cause, and there are many great ways to help brighten their days:
As simple as this sounds, these thoughtful sentiments should not be overlooked. Teachers are often taken for granted on a day-to-day basis. The smallest words of encouragement or praise can go a long way.
Administrators can stop by a classroom to tell a teacher they are appreciated. A personal email to compliment an amazing bulletin board or a handwritten note to say thanks for being so positive can really make a teacher feel loved.
Community members can also send in cards or write a quick email of encouragement. Every little bit helps.
Teachers love when a little free time opens up for them. It’s such a rare occasion that they treat it like a treasure. Administrators can offer this gift to teachers whenever they cut a meeting short (or better yet, cancel the meeting and just send an email.) As back-to-school meetings drone on and on, cutting the meeting short by 30 minutes is a way to show teachers you respect them and their time.
Let them know that their meeting is canceled or ending early, and they can now use this time as they wish. They can catch up on work, collaborate with a colleague, or take a nice walk outside to reinvigorate themselves. This small gesture can greatly enhance any teacher’s day.
Chocolate. Cookies. Donuts. Candy. You name it; teachers will love it. Not always the healthiest of options, but in small quantities, these sweet treats remind teachers that they are thought of and deserve a bit of indulgence. It’s a pleasant surprise to walk into the teachers’ lounge and see that someone took the time to bring in something nice for the staff.
Other teachers can nominate coworkers for this title. Administrators can offer the winner a parking spot right at the entrance of the building. Local businesses can supply this teacher a free lunch or dinner. Someone can bring this teacher a coffee or some flowers. A poster can hang outside this teacher’s classroom. Honoring a different teacher each week can spread the love and help boost morale.
What if, on teacher in-service days, upbeat music filled the hallways as teachers entered the school? When students aren’t in the building, administrators can start the day off with some high energy, fun tunes. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Can’t Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake are great songs to kickstart a day of collaboration with colleagues.
At the end of a long day of teaching, as teachers head into a faculty meeting, why not have some background music? Some calming tunes could help make teachers feel some peace at the end of their day as they transition to meeting-mode. Some classical pieces could work or some throwback tunes like the Beatles or Dave Matthews Band can help lighten the mood.
If administrators have any connections to community businesses, they should reach out to see if they can offer any perks for teachers. A coffee shop that offers a special teacher punch-card to earn a free coffee. A masseuse who will give teachers a 20% discount. A sandwich shop that will offer free delivery to teachers on Fridays. Whatever perks businesses can offer to teachers will definitely liven up teacher spirits. It also helps show teachers how much community members support them.
Everyone loves free stuff, especially hard-working teachers! Any gifts that could be helpful for teachers or their classrooms are always welcome. Free spirit wear tee shirts or polo shirts make a great opening day, welcome back gift from the PTO. Pencils and pens with school designs on them are a nice thing for teachers to have. Even leftover homecoming and prom freebies (cups, mugs, pads of paper, etc.) can be handed over to teachers to be used in the classroom. Teachers will enjoy finding a little surprise on their desk to start their day.
Getting to dress casually at school can be a big boost to morale. Comfortable teachers who get to wear jeans and gym shoes tend to be happier teachers. This is a no-cost, easy option for administrators to offer to teachers every once in a while. An email can announce to teachers that they have been working so hard that they should be rewarded with a day of comfort. This gesture will be well-received and gives teachers a full day of feel-good vibes.
It is often tough for teachers to find any extra time off during their day. However, an administrator could offer to cover a teacher’s recess or lunch duty for a day to give them an extended break. Teachers could earn a pass to trade in for an administrator to cover one of their classes during the school year. Any small amount of time that someone could take over their tasks would offer teachers a welcome opportunity to take a breath and enjoy a free moment during the school day.
Teachers are always working hard and sacrificing themselves for the betterment of their students. This year in particular teachers are challenging themselves like never before and facing stressful and daunting situations as they head back to their classrooms. By offering them a token of appreciation, administrators and community members can show their support to teachers. A kind word, a sweet treat, and a little bit of free time can brighten a teacher’s day and make them feel valued for all of their efforts.