This year’s Teacher Appreciation Week comes in the thick of a unique time for educators around the globe. When the 2019-2020 academic year started none of us could have predicted how it would end. Even two months ago – which now feels like two years ago – most educators were planning for finals, end-of-year celebrations, and graduation. Then, almost overnight, the whole world changed around us, and we found ourselves in a new reality. I have worked with educators for years and while I have always had a great appreciation for the hard work they engage in each and every day, today I have even deeper gratitude.
Over the last several weeks I’ve watched as parents in the US and around the globe have juggled working from home and teaching from home during quarantine. Basically, I think Shonda Rhimes sums up the collective thought going through many parents’ minds:
For me, as a parent, this has meant spending more time tracking my kids’ schoolwork and overseeing their activity, helping them plan their day, and keeping them motivated and encouraged. In all honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve had to do some of this stuff (pre-calculus, I’m looking at you), and so I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and learn alongside them. It has been challenging, and I have the luxury of only working with two teenagers.
It has made me realize how taxing – and critically important – primary teachers’ and higher education instructors’ work is not just for students, but for all of us. This is especially true now. Consider what most educators around the world have been asked to do:
- Transition their plans and calendars to support a remote learning environment in as little as 48 hours
- Learn new, unfamiliar tools in a matter of hours
- Digitize educational content, resources, and activities
- Adjust schedules to account for quarantine days
- Measure student performance through formative and summative assessment
- Gauge students’ needs and address them using the new technology Teach students in an environment that is likely not conducive to learning, like a living room or kitchen table
- Coordinate food, technology, and other resources for students in need
- Manage their own teaching environment, including making sure they have a fast-enough internet connection, a computer with a camera, access to gradebooks and rosters, and a space from which to do their work
- Many educators are managing their own family interactions at the same time as they are trying to teach
Needless to say, this is just a snapshot of the challenges educators have encountered as they continue to teach amidst the pandemic. And what’s most impressive is that educators across the globe immediately rose to the occasion, adapted, and made it work. They got online, opened their homes (virtually), re-tooled materials and classwork/coursework, and reached out to parents and students all while juggling the other complications of quarantine. They were given a Herculean task, and they successfully responded with Herculean effort.
It takes a specific type of person to become an educator. It’s the kind of person who knows they are going into one of the most demanding jobs, for long hours and little pay, because they love to teach. They have a passion burning within to spark a love of learning or a particular subject matter in others. They work hard and understand the unique importance of their role. My mother was a teacher, and I witnessed her dedication first-hand year after year. Her students and their progress drove her energy and her commitment to the craft.
To educators around the globe, we at Blackboard say, “Thank you!” Thank you for not giving up on our students. Thank you for going above-and-beyond to help our children. And thank you, especially now, for showing up despite these unprecedented hurdles and moving education forward. You are investing in everyone’s future. As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week we will be honoring educators who have impacted our lives through a series of personal stories from our Blackboard team. We invite you to follow these stories on our social channels. Join us in showing your appreciation for educators around the world.