I always think of Teacher Appreciation Week like a wedding anniversary. If we wait to make our staff feel loved and appreciated until one special day we are probably doing it wrong. With that being the core of my philosophy on this, 2020-2021 presents unique challenges.
I have always felt that the way we make our staff feel loved and appreciated is that we should know, honor, and value all staff. And even more than that, we can always be kind. I still believe that if we do this, it is the absolute best way to show appreciation throughout the course of the year.
This year challenged everything. It challenged our relationships. It challenged our decision-making. It challenged our emotions. This year challenged us because no matter what key decision was made it seemed to alienate a portion of the staff. As some felt valued, others felt taken for granted – or worse, invisible.
This has been the refrain for much of this year. This was a perfectly complex, yet understandable, dilemma for leadership. More importantly, it was an emotional conundrum for staff.
So, as I thought about what I could say to best thank all of you for your Herculean efforts this year I struggled. The first reason for the struggle is easy – a simple thank you is not enough. The second reason is that when I thought of the massive ‘lift’ that pulling off this school year was I do not think there is any way to adequately show appreciation.
But the more I thought about it, I came up with one thing I can do. I think the very best thing I could possibly share with you – especially at this stage of the year – is quite simple.
You are seen.
I see that many of you returned to work when you were unsure of your safety and worked your tails off.
I see that you have been going as hard as you can for 15 straight months right now.
I see that even though you are exhausted when one of our staff is down you rally around them.
I see how many times you have given leadership the benefit of the doubt this year.
I see that even when you have disagreed with decisions I have made you have kept grinding forward for kids.
I see that you need a break.
I see that you have grown more than you even can conceptualize at this point because you are still in the fight.
I see the anxiety.
I see that you never lost sight of the kids we serve as evidenced by texts at 1 AM on Thursdays and 7 AM on Saturdays
to make sure kids have support.
I see that you are doing everything you can to make this year as ‘normal’ for kids and make memories for them.
I see that our kids are growing despite every obstacle in the way and that is because of you.
I see that you are tired.
I see all of this and am abundantly and eternally grateful to be able to say that I am on your team. You have made me proud everyday this year and words cannot simply do that justice.
But – even with that – I still want to say THANK YOU.