Olsen: Give the gift of time and support to our teachers this holiday season
I often find myself wondering how I can do more to support our amazing educators and staff as they continue to rise and meet the daily challenges and demands of being a teacher in the COVID-19 era.
The one thing I have found most helpful is being a guest teacher — answering the call when it is needed most.
Like us, teachers have lives outside of the workplace — in their case, the classroom (full of our children and future leaders and citizens). Teachers have doctor appointments, emergencies and family obligations of their own to attend to. Can you imagine if we were unable to take time away from our work to answer those calls? To help your loved ones or drop everything for an emergency? To be faced with that anxiety would be really difficult and likely not sustainable.
Prior to COVID-19, the community seemed to be flush with substitute teachers, eager and willing to help at a moment’s notice. That has all changed now. Many of those substitutes have decided the risk of being in schools is too high and the compensation is too low. I completely understand why folks in many situations would not want to take that risk. Although I will say that being at the school seemed just as safe as being at Costco or City Market — if not more so.
Our educators need our support now more than ever. In my view, the better we support our teachers and staff, the better they can show up, teach and guide our children.
As a working mom myself, I signed up to be a substitute teacher last year and have been able to meet the need from time to time for my own kiddos’ classrooms. I understand having a flexible schedule is a privilege and many working parents don’t have the ability to take time off work to teach a class. But for those parents and community members who do, I ask you to give it a try.
What if those who could subbed for even a few days a year? For your kids’ class or your kids’ school? Whether planned or covering for an emergency, it would make a huge difference for our teachers and our children. Just showing up and being present with a positive attitude is really 90% of the gig. What is the old adage, showing up is half the battle?
Being a guest teacher in 2020 and 2021 has been one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences as a parent. Every teacher showing up for our children is a hero in my book. As I say when I am in the school, congressional medals of honor for all who show up.
They show up every day for our kids, often working more than 60 and 70 hours a week.
Teachers do it because they love their work and they love teaching our children. I imagine the best gift we could give our teachers this year is time. Time to take care of their own families and loved ones. Time to take care of themselves or deal with an emergency without anxiety of what will happen in their classroom.
It was such an amazing — and challenging — experience to be in my daughter’s kindergarten classroom. To see how they learn, who they learn beside and understand — even just for a day. The enormity of the responsibility and commitment that our educators make is humbling. While I never saw myself as someone who takes our school system and teachers for granted, actually doing it dramatically shifted my perspective.
My gratitude for our teachers and staff at Brush Creek Elementary is unending. I am in awe of their daily commitment to our children and community. This holiday season, let’s give them what they really need and deserve: the gift of time and support.
Robin Olsen is an Eagle resident and parent of two children at Brush Creek Elementary School.