This is Teacher Appreciation Week. A time for us to say “thank you” to educators who work with our children today, and to those who taught us when we were in school years ago. This year’s celebration, however, is unlike any other. The majority of our 50-million plus school-age children and teens spent this academic year away from their public school building and their friends. Instead, they received an education through diverse learning models: be they virtual, hybrid, pod-based, or micro-school. Some students did return to their public school, in-person, during this academic year, even if for a few days a week.
Whatever learning model a family or school district selected for their children and teens, I’m pretty sure that public school teachers were part of the learning process for students.
As we focus our time on teachers this week, in particular those working in public schools, here is a national snapshot of the profession according to a November 2020 report published by the National Center for Education Statistics:
Many of us have come to appreciate teachers in new and more profound ways than ever before during this year of unprecedented change in public schooling. This is particularly so because we know that teachers are a major purveyor of establishing and maintaining a culture of learning and of community for students. How, when and why this occurs are all important questions to ask.
Rather than have me answer each question, the Advanced Studies in Culture Foundation launched an “In Character” web page on the CultureFeed website to establish an online idea-exchange forum for Pre-K-12 teachers to share thinking about the impact of education and educators on culture. With the support of Katherine Bassett, the 2000 New Jersey Teacher of the Year, we have produced 14 whole-group discussion videos with 89 teachers as of April 30, 2021, 59 1:1 interviews, and 16 blog posts.
So, as we kickoff teacher appreciation week, as have President Joseph R. Biden, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and Governor Ralph S. Northam of Virginia, one way to appreciate public school teachers is to listen to what they have to say about working with students, families, lawmakers, and each other during the 2021-2022 academic year. You are one click way from finding answers on “In Character.”