Every year, at this time, I struggle to come up with the acknowledgement of thanks and gratitude that should be given to teachers every day, but this year in particular I’m really struggling. It’s no secret why this year is unlike any other in education, and why this year our teachers deserve a level of praise and acknowledgement that far exceeds all years previous to this one.

Some of the biggest questions that arise are where do I begin, and how do I begin to collectively thank these amazingly dedicated professionals?  

In my mind the best place to start is always from the heart. Thank you, teachers, for not only making our kids your kids, but for taking your care to unprecedented heights this year. From ensuring the volume levels on their microphones are turned up or muted; to building in dedicated times throughout the day to check-in on our kids’ social and emotional well-being; to calming the parents whose connectivity and tech troubleshooting isn’t going very well; to spending extra time beyond your contracted time with our kids to ensure mastery of content, or sometimes, just to talk; to knocking on the doors of the homes of the children you haven’t seen in a while to ensure their physical well-being; simply put, thank you won’t ever be enough.

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The definition of pivot was taken to a whole new level this year, and if every professional in every sector and corner of the world adapted and shifted their mind sets as well as your profession imagine the possibilities. Overnight you transformed the learning space to remote learning and hybrid learning, then back to full-time in-person learning. You went full steam ahead into uncharted waters and navigated through technological processes and systems completely unknown, all while keeping your focus on your students. You became the greatest example of successful entrepreneurship this world has ever seen. 

Like formative assessments, you know the work is never complete, and you always adjust your lesson plans accordingly, this year was no different. Although the work of our teachers is never complete, the contributions they make to our society today, last far into the future.  

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to the world’s greatest influencers. You deserve to be celebrated every day. 

Liz Parlett Butcher is State Director, Association of American Educators, New Jersey