Appreciating Teachers More Than Ever
As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week May 4-8, we want to recognize Michigan teachers for doing their best to maintain a routine that is vital to kids.
Feature Image: Teacher Megan Gracik holds a message for her students.
As the classroom setting has moved from school desks to kitchen tables, in-person interactions that unite students and teachers aren’t available. Daily interaction now looks different, but the heart of a teacher still remains.
A sign from a student at Donley Elementary School.
Hosting weekly Zoom meetings with first graders at Donley Elementary School, East Lansing Public Schools teacher Megan Gracik is bringing the same energy and enthusiasm to her students with weekly themes and class rewards aligning with what she used in her classroom: what makes you happy, stuffed animal day and sunglasses & hat themes. Gracik says, “By bringing those same things to the [class] meetings, it makes it more fun and engaging for the students.”
Teachers are adapting and embracing remote learning in different ways: recordings of special student shout-outs, mailed paper learning packets, spirit days, Google hangouts, digital office hours, phone calls, text messages and more. “Anything, to try and reach as many students as possible,” says Lisa Irrer, teacher at Howell High School. “My biggest goal is to make sure their social and emotional needs are taken care of and then work on addressing how to advance them academically.”
Teamwork makes the dream work and teachers from each grade level are banding together to create lessons and videos for their students and hosting office hours to allow parents and students to reach out with questions. “The team is very supportive of each other. I probably couldn’t get through this without my team. We are continually communicating through emails, texts and Zoom,” says Val Francis, fifth grade teacher at Oakwood Intermediate School, Allendale Public Schools, who’s taught 20 years in Allendale.
Teacher Val Francis finds a quiet spot at home for a video conference meeting.
Work, home and parent lines are blurred now more than ever. Francis, mother of four, is sharing her days between teaching her students, parenting her kids and sharing the responsibilities with her husband who is also working remotely.
Francis’ advice for parents, “Everyone’s situation is different. Do what you can. Don’t stress yourself out and don’t stress the kids out. We will get through this. As teachers, we will start where ever [the students] are and do what we have to do to get them caught up and where they need to be. Go with the flow and do what you can. Just love them!”
Thank you teachers for going above and beyond to continue to mold young minds and teach our youth.