Outside the Classroom

Teacher Appreciation during COVID-19

From driveway lessons to virtual meetings, teachers have used their characteristic creativity to continue to support and educate students from afar. Educators are known to have caring and giving personalities, so few are surprised to hear inspirational stories of their efforts to go above and beyond during this unprecedented time. Many educators are grieving the loss of the school year they envisioned right alongside their students, and are using this time to discuss social and emotional issues as well as academic ones.

Trying to find ways to show teacher appreciation during COVID-19 requires similar creativity, but we hope that sharing some of the tremendous ways teachers are continuing to connect with their students will exemplify the importance of teachers, schools, and education.

Thank you for cultivating powerful relationships with your students and thank you, teachers for guiding our children, especially during tough times.

Virtual Story Time

In Waterville, Maine, second-grade teacher Mrs. Lane publishes videos of herself reading a new book to her students every day. “I think if we just look at the interest of our students or our own kids, what their desires are and what they want to learn about, then there will be a whole lot of learning taking place in everybody’s homes,” said Mrs. Lane.

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Video Lessons Get Creative

Teachers from Randolph High School in New Jersey quickly developed virtual lessons for their students, but math teacher Teresa Schuele pushed herself to demonstrate new concepts using simple materials from home. In one lesson on finding diagonals, she used a cardboard box and tape. “We’re all living through something that the world has never experienced,” one teacher said. “In my opinion, the most important things we can do for one another include being there to listen, being supportive, and being kind.”

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Incorporating Fun

School librarian Betsy Thomas is using a green screen and a closet full of costumes to bring joy into the new school day. The themed videos cover concepts like dinosaurs, donuts, and bears, and encourage students to participate in physical activities, research, games, art projects, and even singing, says Ms. Thomas.

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Personal Connection

First-grade teacher Katherine Ricca initially planned to do twice-weekly Zoom meetings with her class, but they “begged for me to meet each night,” she says. Understanding that they needed this connection to see their friends and share about their days, Ms. Ricca changed to nightly meetings with her Panama City, Florida class. After noticing one student visibly struggling and disconnecting early one night, Ms. Ricca decided to do something special. While honoring the six-foot social distancing mandates, she visited with her student, read to her, and empathized with her. The student’s parent said, “It shows me that our teachers really do care about our kids.”

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In-Person Visits

Chris Waba, a sixth-grade math teacher from Madison Middle School, delivered an in-person lesson to his struggling student from outside her Madison, South Dakota home. “You can tell when kids are struggling and the last thing you want someone to do when it’s something new like this—and it’s new for all of us—is to become frustrated and then give up,” Mr. Waba says of the importance of his home visit. The student’s father commented that, “He’d do anything he could to help a kid out. He just went above and beyond…He’s such a good teacher and a great man.”

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Virtual Concerts

Rolling Meadows High School’s music teacher Caitlyn Walsh ordered custom t-shirts in preparation for their senior spring concert. When the Illinois school closed their doors in March, Ms. Walsh didn’t want to lose all of the cherished end-of-year activities she and her students had counted on. So she asked students to film themselves performing their excerpts from West Side Story, and one of the seniors mixed the videos together to produce something truly unique.

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We hope you are continuing to connect with your students, parents, and fellow educators, and are finding a way to celebrate teacher appreciation during COVID-19. Thank you again for all that you do—teachers never cease to amaze us!

About the Author

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Emily Kirk

After growing up in the Phoenix area, Emily escaped the heat to study in Flagstaff where she graduated from Northern Arizona University with a BA in Art History. She went on to work and study at The University of Phoenix, earning her MBA. After volunteering to teach English in Chile for a semester, she worked in sales and marketing for a major ocean freight carrier. Throughout her career, Emily has also taught ballet, so she is thrilled to be part of the Where Learning Clicks team where she can combine her love of teaching and business acumen to help transform classrooms.