The COVID-19 pandemic saw teachers from across the globe rush to learn how to use new digital learning tools, amend their lesson plans, and find alternative ways to keep students engaged as they themselves took the necessary plunge into the world of online learning. Learning in lockdown was by no means an easy feat for students across Australia, but the sudden challenges that the pandemic brought on for both primary and secondary teachers was unprecedented, especially so for teachers who were relatively new to their roles.
The one benefit that COVID-19 did provide to teachers was a mutual understanding and sense of solidarity with both students, parents, fellow teachers, and their school’s principal and other administrative or management staff. The gargantuan efforts of teachers were being recognised almost universally and at an international scale. But has this recognition continued post-lockdown? We’ll be exploring the answer to this question in-depth below.
Showing Aussie teachers that we care through gifts
A traditional depiction of students practicing teacher appreciation was by leaving an apple – the biblical fruit of knowledge – on their teacher’s desk. In the modern day, students have opted to show their appreciation through gift-giving. Personalised gifts for teachers are amongst the most popular forms of end-of-year, graduation, or even birthday gifts that are given to teachers by students, with some of the most popular items being pens, stamps, and other stationery, monogrammed notebooks, and desk ornaments or picture frames. Some teachers have even received personalised mugs or reusable coffee cups, which are gifts that always go well-received.
Aussie teachers have also commonly expressed that their favourite gifts are more sentimental over material, with teachers across the world saying that their most cherished gifts tend to be either personalised to them, reflective of their students’ achievements, or a simple but heartfelt handwritten note that details the impact that that particular teacher held on that generous student.
Not all of their favourite gifts were necessarily even given at graduation either. In fact, many teachers most appreciate gifts that they receive even years after that particular student has graduated. This is precisely why former students who can recognise the lasting positive impacts of their own passionate teachers should feel encouraged to reach out even after graduation, even if just to pass along a handwritten letter or an email with photo updates of who you’ve become and how you continue to be inspired by your teachers throughout your professional life.
What parents can do to express their gratitude
As many parents also found themselves working from home throughout the pandemic, they received more glimpses than ever before into their child’s life as a student and how they absorb material in a classroom setting. Even if that classroom happened to be digital, being more or less present as your child was in school mode provided parents with a deeper understanding of just how their children learn as well as how they are supported by their fellow peers as well as by their teachers.
Naturally, parents may have realised that some teachers in particular were offering their children with an abundance of support or even staying back after school or after classes to provide additional support and learning resources for students who may have been struggling with the transition from in-class learning to at-home learning or vice versa. Teachers know that these additional efforts don’t go unnoticed, and many teachers do take pride and personal satisfaction from simply knowing that they’ve helped a student in their learning process.
That being said, parents who are particularly grateful have been practicing teacher recognition however they can, whether it be by scheduling a Zoom meeting with their children’s teachers to voice their gratitude, or by sending flowers or other treats to their teachers’ homes or hand-delivering these goods themselves post-lockdown.
How schools can boost their own teacher recognition
Of course, it’s not enough for just parents and students to acknowledge the efforts of their favourite teachers alone. At the end of the day, classroom teachers are filling a professional role alongside being a support system and educational resource for your children, and as such, there is a certain responsibility that falls to principals, year level coordinators, and other school managerial staff to recognise teachers who have gone above and beyond for their students. But how can schools boost their own teacher recognition?
During these last few years of lockdowns, many schools introduced teacher recognition rewards systems or provided faculties with the opportunity to highlight specific teachers who have received high praise from students and parents alike. Alongside recognition within separate faculties, educational institutions can host teacher recognition awards nights at the end of every school year or highlight teachers who offered support alongside acknowledging the achievements of exceptional students. Regular professional feedback from their faculty leaders can also play an immense role in empowering teachers and supporting a sense of gratitude between teachers and their coordinators.
Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day in Australia
Finally, many parents and teachers across the country have been calling on schools to place greater emphasis on teacher appreciation holidays, such as World Teachers’ Day or America’s own Teacher Appreciation Day, which falls on October 5th. As this date tends to coincide with school holidays here in Australia, we’ve made a habit to celebrate World Teachers’ Day on the last Friday of every October, meaning this year’s Teachers’ Day will fall on the 28th.
The World Teachers’ Days of 2020 and 2021 saw a rapid increase in the participation of this holiday, with more parents, teachers, and schools flocking to social media to commemorate the occasion than ever before. It’s likely that 2022’s World Teachers’ Day will continue this trend and encourage parents and students alike to celebrate all that their tireless teachers do to support their learning and developmental journeys.
Teacher appreciation is continuing to be practiced even after lockdowns have lifted across Australia, and educators from all sections of the education system couldn’t be more thrilled. Many Aussie teachers are hopeful that they can continue to be recognised for their efforts, and that future generations of teachers will be equipped with a plethora of additional skills that were developed throughout the pandemic.