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Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Month: Honoring the Impactful Contributions of Educators

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May is always a month dedicated to celebrating and appreciating the invaluable role teachers play in our society.

Teachers are more important than ever in society, from the devastating effects of COVID and our ability to pivot to online teaching to the often portrayal in the media of what are only a few bad apples, we teachers need to make sure that we celebrate ourselves during this month.

I didn’t go to college to become a teacher. Far from it! However, with both of my parents’ teachers and a long line of grandparents in education, here I am, I landed perfectly. But when my journey into public education began over 20 years ago, I learned almost immediately about the immense power teachers had to inspire, motivate, and guide their students towards success. I realized in my very first year of teaching that we are not just providers of knowledge but also mentors, role models, and advocates.

Besides my own bloodline of teachers, another impactful realization of the power that comes from teachers was the movie “Freedom Writers.” A few years into my teaching, the film showcased Erin Gruwell’s dedication to making a difference in the lives of her students. Gruwell, faced with a group of disengaged and at-risk students, used literature and personal connections to inspire them to rise above their circumstances. Her story highlights the power of empathy, understanding, and the ability of a teacher to ignite a passion for learning. I remember feeling the impact from the movie. Not about the movie in specific but the idea that I could really make an impact not only on the learning but the lives of the students I teach. That was pivotal as I began saving mementos to come back to at a time when I felt like I either wasn’t making a difference or I needed motivation to continue.

Teachers know that we don’t get the accolades that we deserve from being in the trenches each and every day. I took on a new practice about a decade ago where I reflect each May on the direct impact I have made on education. I do this by going through my drawers of mementos that I’ve saved from students over the years. From heartfelt letters to pictures to trinkets, I look at what I’ve saved over the years. If you don’t do this, I highly recommend this, putting them in one special place to reflect upon later. Each year I forget about all the well wishes, gratitude, and praise I have gotten from students. Because if we are “here for the students,” we need to continuously hear from them and the impact we are making.

Teacher Appreciation Month is also a good opportunity for teachers to celebrate our dedication and hard work. Here are five things teachers can do to honor themselves during this special month:

1. Reflect on Achievements and Growth:

Take time to reflect on your accomplishments as a teacher throughout the year. Celebrate the progress you have made and the positive impact you have had on your students’ lives. Recognize the growth in your teaching skills and strategies. Reflecting on your achievements can boost your confidence and remind you of the difference you are making as an educator.

2. Treat Yourself:

Show yourself some appreciation by indulging in self-care activities or treating yourself to something special. It could be as simple as enjoying a spa day, taking a walk in nature, reading a book you’ve been wanting to read, or going out to a new restaurant. Treating yourself helps recharge your energy and reminds you to prioritize your own well-being.

3. Connect with Colleagues:

Reach out to your fellow teachers and colleagues during Teacher Appreciation Month. Share stories, experiences, and celebrate each other’s successes. Connecting with colleagues can provide a sense of camaraderie and support, reminding you that you are not alone in your journey as an educator. Organize a virtual gathering or meet up for a coffee to exchange ideas and inspire each other. At my site we do a staff hike every May and it’s such a great bonding experience every year!

4. Engage in Professional Development:

Use Teacher Appreciation Month as an opportunity to invest in your professional growth. Attend webinars, workshops, or conferences that align with your interests and goals. Engaging in professional development allows you to stay updated with the latest educational practices and expand your teaching repertoire. By investing in your own growth, you are honoring your commitment to being a lifelong learner.

5. Express Gratitude:

Take the time to express gratitude to those who have supported you in your teaching journey. Write thank-you notes or emails to parents, colleagues, administrators, or mentors who have been instrumental in your development as a teacher. Expressing your appreciation not only honors their contributions but also reminds you of the positive relationships you have built.

Teacher Appreciation Month is an important time to recognize and celebrate the significant contributions of educators. By understanding the importance of educators, acknowledging their dedicated efforts, and sharing famous stories of impactful teachers, we can collectively appreciate and honor the remarkable individuals who shape the future generation. Let us make the most of Teacher Appreciation Month by showing our gratitude to the teachers who have made a difference in our lives and by supporting them throughout the year. Together, we can create a culture that values and appreciates the profound impact of educators.

**As a tribute to summer and relaxation, this blog will take a brief hiatus until August so that I can unplug from all things teaching for a bit. ☀️⛱️