Photo: Melissa Heckscher

Dear Teachers,

I just want you to know, there are days when I want to give up on this whole “distance learning” thing.

There are days that I want to close my eyes and surrender—to let my kids plug themselves into Youtube or Xbox or whatever device they’d rather watch instead of doing schoolwork. Because seriously: Getting my 8 and 10-year-old boys to focus on school (while my gleefully unoccupied 5-year-old daughter frolics around the back yard belting out Frozen 2 songs) seems close to impossible.

But I don’t give up. You know why?

Because you don’t.

No, every school day since this whole “Shelter in Place” thing started, you’ve been there. In fact, I’ve mapped out our daily schedule based on what you’ve laid out for us: Zoom meetings in the morning; art in the afternoon; read-alouds at lunch. You give us someplace to “go.” Thank you for that.

I know it can’t be easy. For one, you’ve managed to get whole classes of kids—and their parents—proficient at Zoom. That alone is an accomplishment, but it’s not all you’ve done: Along with knowing how to navigate his Chromebook like a pro and type 54 words per minute, my second-grader can now put together a Powerpoint Presentation better than I can. That’s all you, Teacher. Thank you.

And don’t think we don’t realize how much time you’re spending on us. You’ve shot videos, sent lesson plans, hosted Zoom meetings, given advice, and offered extra help—even while some of you have your own children needing your attention, too (I’ve seen you calmly tending to your kids mid-Zoom, Fourth Grade Teacher, and I just want to say you’re amazing).

You’ve spent your nights reading and reviewing kids’ work—scouring endless pages of Common Core math problems, grammar sentences, essays and tests—even when you have your own families to care for.

You’ve dealt with us parents, answering what must be an onslaught of e-mails, despite the fact you’ve probably already addressed all said concerns in previous e-mails or Google Classroom posts. (Sorry about that. )

You’ve worked hard, even when you were tired. You’ve kept going, even when you were drained. You’ve navigated this strange remote learning world, even when you weren’t sure whether you were doing it right. (You are!)

Most importantly: You’ve shown up for my kids with the same loving-but-“Let’s get down to business” attitude they’ve known all school year—even as the weight (or loneliness) of working from home amid a pandemic has become so big you’ve probably felt like you can’t always carry it.

But you can.

I can.

And the kids certainly can.

So that’s why I keep going. Because how can I tell my kids that I can’t handle this when you’re handling it tenfold (24-fold, to be exact)?

How can I tell my 8-year-old I don’t have the energy to homeschool when you have the energy not only to corral a roomful of Zoomed pre-tweens into silence—but also to ride your bike past the home of EVERY SINGLE CHILD in the class just so you could give them a smile in person? (Seriously, thank you for that.)

How can I tell my 5-year-old I can’t give any more of myself when her preschool teacher just opened up her own back yard for scheduled, unlimited solo visits to her trampoline?

You, teachers, amaze me.

And while you may not be getting the hand-painted “Thank you” signs or live-streamed TV specials that are being given to the pandemic’s “front line” workers, you are just as valuable.

And so I want to take this opportunity to tell you:

You are our anchor.

You give us a routine when everything else is so enormously outside that routine.

You make things feel normal when everything else is so far from normal.

You keep us going.

Thank you, teachers, for everything you do. We love you.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, join us in putting “Thank You Teachers!” signs in your window this week. 

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