Teachers have a challenging and often thankless job. They are responsible for our children for many hours out of each day. They aren’t just educators, they’re caregivers, and their efforts often go unrecognized by students, administrators, and sadly, parents too. Teachers are undervalued, overly criticized, and have to deal with things like the implications of censorship and book banning on top of all of their other responsibilities.
After a year of homeschooling my own kids, I have nothing but appreciation for teachers, many of whom routinely go above and beyond to educate our children, often working long after children head home from school and even taking their work home with them. To be honest, a candle or restaurant gift card doesn’t seem like quite enough to express just how thankful we are for our kids’ teachers. After speaking to a few Latinx teachers, we’ve learned that while gifts are always appreciated, the biggest way to show a teacher that you care can’t be bought.
What teachers really want is respect and consistent support. Keep reading to find out what you can do to show your kids’ teachers that you appreciate them, including some tips straight from Latinx teachers themselves.
Show Your Respect Every Day
Teachers need their student’s parents to be kind and respectful all year long. Just like we teach our children, gifts and compliments mean nothing if your actions don’t match the sentiment. “Simply and even better than anything temporary, is respect throughout the whole year,” Françoise Thenoux of The Woke Spanish Teacher tells HipLatina. “All the one day gestures mean nothing if there’s no respect the rest of the year.”
“Be active in your child’s education by actively staying aware of what is happening in their academic career, calling teachers and the school when their children are not doing well in school and being the child’s biggest advocate,” teacher Paola Garcia of Afro Latinx United tells us. From the very start of the school year, let your child’s teacher know that you’re there to support your child and him or her. A quick email or message introducing yourself can set the tone for the entire school year, and make the parent-teacher team a lot more organic and allow you to address potential issues before they become unmanageable for your child and/or their teacher.
Something every parent should prioritize is “working with teachers to ensure their child have the best academic, social, and emotional experience in school,” Garcia says. Remember, we can’t just send our kids off to school in the morning and expect the teacher deal with everything that comes up in those hours alone. Each teacher is responsible for sometimes dozens of children each school year, and it would be impossible for them to meet the academic, emotional, and social needs of every single student at all times. Education should be a collaborative effort, so don’t feel bad about reaching out to a teacher for help with your child either. When approached with kindness and respect, they are beyond happy to work together.
Give Them Grace
Teachers may sometimes seem like superheroes, but they have bad days too. They get overwhelmed, make mistakes, and need help on occasion just like the rest of us. When something goes wrong or your child has a problem in the classroom that is not a part of a pattern, take a step back and take a breath before reacting. Yes, you should absolutely address issues as they come up, but doing so with a measure of grace for your child’s teacher shows them that while you have a concern, you still appreciate everything they are doing.
Garcia also reminds us that most schools have a Parent Teacher Association or Organization (PTA/O) that parents can get involved with to ensure that students and teachers are getting the support they need. “Participating in PTA meeting,” Garcia says, is something that teachers truly appreciate. It gives everyone an avenue of clear communication, and helps teachers better meet the needs of the students and families they serve.
Put Your Appreciation Into Words
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A heartfelt note most often means a lot more to teachers than trinkets. “Send them a thank you message. Whether it be a text message, email, or even a video! Showing thanks speak volumes to teachers. My personal favorite is hand written notes,” says teacher and student advocate Mariana Tejada. That candle will burn out in a few days, but a note of thanks and appreciation might just be treasured for years to come, and give your child’s teacher the motivation to keep showing up as her best self each day.
Be an Advocate for Teachers
When you show up to things like school board meetings and make the needs of your child, their teachers, and their classrooms known, it speaks volumes about how much you value teachers. “Decent wages, a better work load and admin/leadership who actually treat teachers with professionalism,” Thenoux tells us, are all major issues for teachers, who have an average salary in the U.S., of roughly $65,090, including all career levels and geographical regions. And don’t forget, most actually do work during the summer months, on weekends and after hours, and don’t get paid overtime.
Meet Practical Needs
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Many classrooms and school districts throughout the U.S. are under-funded, which can present huge challenges for teachers. A lot of teachers still find themselves having to either cut corners or come out of their own pockets to provide adequate education materials. “Organize a fundraiser for your child’s teacher’s classroom. At the end of year, classroom supplies are running low, and a lot of the time, teachers don’t have the time, energy, or resources to fund these materials. Getting a fundraiser started, takes this stress off teachers,” suggests Tejada.
Lighten the Load
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Another generous way to show your appreciation for your child’s teacher is to take something off of their plates, especially as the end of the year approaches. “Volunteer to organize end of the year festivities,” Tejada says. “With the end of the year approaching, it is time for parties and graduation ceremonies. Teachers are busy this season with wrapping up end of the year testing, and helping teachers plan these memorable and fun festivities,” can be a big help.
Let the Principal Know You Appreciate the Teacher’s Efforts
If you think your child’s teacher is doing an exceptional job, tell someone! Your child’s teacher would never ask or expect you to tell their boss that they are doing a good job, but that kind of positive feedback can be super-uplifting. Consider emailing the principal or even the superintendent to let them know what an amazing teacher your child has and the positive impact that teacher has had on your child. We all appreciate being recognized for a job well done in the workplace, and teachers are no exception.