School Views: Show teachers, principals your appreciation
As we come back from spring break and head into the final stretch of the school year, please join me in expressing appreciation for our principals and teachers. May 1 is Principal Appreciation Day and May 3-7 is Teacher Appreciation Week.
District administrators understand that this has been a tough year for parents, students, and staff. The district has had to make unpopular and inconvenient decisions based on high-stakes variables that were always changing. For the most part, parents of our students and the community at large have been amazing, graceful, and patient partners during this crisis, and for that we are intensely grateful.
But, we still understand it has been difficult, it has required sacrifices, and it has caused frustration. Please direct those feelings to the district and hold principals, teachers, and support staff apart from those sentiments.
Our teachers and principals have gone above and beyond their calling this year in service to students. They helped make a wholesale change to the way in which school operates. It’s not just preparing to teach online and in person, it’s also changing from collaborative learning, hands-on, minds-on small group activities to more social distance, less resource sharing, and often accepting new teaching assignments.
Schools are expensive to build and the space is typically maximized to meet the needs of a specific number of students in fixed sized classrooms, cafeterias, and gymnasiums. Teachers and principals figured out how to create smaller cohorts and spread out to reuse the entirety of the spaces in their buildings to offer the most in-person instruction possible. It was a massive internal undertaking.
And, time with students has been their goal, our goal, all year long — to provide as much in-person instruction as possible. To do so required courage. Our teachers and principals were concerned about being in-person. They were concerned for their own health and the health of their students. We all worried of rapid virus spread and a return to remote learning on an extended or full-time basis.
Only through a close partnership with Public Health were we able to take our pandemic crisis plan and amend it to offer layers of protection to limit and mitigate the spread of the virus within the school setting. Ultimately, it required teachers and principals to choose to put students first and set about completing the hardest year of teaching in their career.
It has been a trying time for everyone. But, if you have a conversation with a teacher or principal, they will likely share a heart-warming story or a funny moment about a student that filled the day with sunshine and brightness for all involved. Students have told us they like the smaller class sizes and getting to know their teachers better. Teachers have told us the exact same thing about getting to know their students better. Schools remained safe environments for positive learning experiences by students.
In many ways, gratitude is the ability to set aside the stresses of the imperfect moments and choose to focus on the moments that went well. Not perfect, but well. This year had many imperfect moments, but they pale in comparison to countless good moments teachers and principals provided each day.
For that, we are grateful for our teachers and principals. If you are so inclined, please thank a teacher and a principal in the coming weeks. I’m sure they’ll thank you right back for being such a strong partner.
Philip Qualman is the superintendent of Eagle County Schools. Email him at email@example.com.