(BPT) - Being a teacher always comes with challenges, but through the uncertainties of the pandemic, it quickly became one of the toughest jobs in the country. Tasked with keeping students calm, engaged and learning — whether in school, at home or hybrid (not to mention added safety protocols) — was a big ask. Yet, as they always do, teachers rose to the challenge and helped keep students learning while providing a much-needed sense of normalcy.
This was no small feat, requiring extra effort from educators. According to a study by the RAND Corporation, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated what were already high stress levels pre-pandemic by forcing teachers to work more hours and navigate an unfamiliar remote environment. The majority of teachers (85%) are feeling some combination of exhaustion, stress or burnout, at the close of the 2020-2021 school year, found a Staples survey, and 50% even describe themselves as overwhelmed.
As educators attempt to rest and refuel for next school year, summer is a great time to show you care and appreciate all they do. Here are five simple ways to give a little love back to the teachers that work so hard for students:
Leverage your talents and interests to help out at local schools. Ask about what your family can do over the summer months to help the community and build school pride. Ask about maintaining the school garden or grounds, see if the library needs help sorting books, offer your time to assist teachers cleaning their rooms, or sign up to volunteer during back-to-school days. There are many ways to help and show you care; contact the teacher or principal to get ideas for how your family can make a difference.
Thank a teacher
Writing a thank-you note or email is a kind way to let teachers know they’re appreciated. Additionally, remember that just because the school year is over doesn't mean teachers aren't at school or working. Many spend weeks cleaning classrooms and wrapping up the school year, not to mention prepping and creating a positive classroom environment in advance of a new year. Consider dropping off coffee, supplies or a treat during these times to boost morale.
Prevent summer learning loss
During summer break, kids can lose valuable knowledge in reading and math — a phenomenon commonly referred to by educators as the “summer slide.” You can help prevent it by making learning a regular part of your child's summer break by weaving in short activities throughout the day. Make your way through fun workbooks and try to read 20 minutes a day. Explore your local community by visiting a museum, growing a garden or visiting a park. Embrace STEAM and try building DaVinci's Bridge with pencils or creating bookmarks from duct tape and craft supplies. Experiential learning is great for the summer months.
Spread the good word
During difficult times, words of encouragement and appreciation mean the world. Write a handwritten letter to the principal and share your appreciation for a specific teacher who made an impact on you this year. Go online and post positive reviews on educational websites. Encourage your child to speak positively about school by leading the way yourself — kids adopt and reflect your attitude, so show appreciation for teachers and a high value of education, and your children will do the same.
Buy extra supplies
According to The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 94% of teachers reported spending their own money on classroom supplies without reimbursement. Consider hosting a supply drive at work or get the kids involved with a lemonade stand to raise money to benefit the school. Buy extra supplies for the classroom when school shopping and shop at Staples Stores where it benefits teachers directly: Starting July 1 through September 30, teachers earn 20% back in rewards on every purchase parents make when they sign up for Classroom Rewards. Teachers can register and parents can sign up at Staplesconnect.com/classroomrewards.
Teachers do so much for children and have been a pillar of hope and stability during the pandemic. These simple ideas will have a big impact while conveying your gratitude.
KRC Research conducted the Staples Teachers study using an online survey of n=500 U.S. adults ages 18 and over who are currently employed as a K-12 teacher. The study fielded between May 18-26, 2021.