EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

What teachers want during Teacher Appreciation week — R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

May 8, 2023, 11:15 AM

Fourth grade teacher Emily Weigel shows her students that it might be hard to fit under their desks...

Fourth grade teacher Emily Weigel shows her students that it might be hard to fit under their desks if they squat instead of sitting cross legged as they prepare to participate in the Great Utah Shakeout, the statewide earthquake preparedness drill, at Canyon View Elementary School in Cottonwood Heights on Thursday, April 20, 2023. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

This is Teacher Appreciation Week. There have been articles about what kinds of small gifts teachers like most — but staplers and stickers are not what they really want.

“Our teachers, our educators need respect,” Utah Education Association President Reneé Pinkney said. “They need gratitude. They need parents to partner with them in meeting their child’s needs.”

Pinkney is quick to point out that “90-95% of our parents love their schools. They love their kids’ teachers. They want to support those teachers.”

(When Pinkney talks about teachers, she’s referring to classroom teachers. The word “educators” refers to all of the other individuals — like speech therapists, audiologists, librarians and counselors.)

“All of us need a thank you,” Pinkney encouraged.

Students have forgotten how to behave in school

Since the pandemic, many teachers have talked about the challenges they are having in the classroom.

“Your classroom climate is essential for learning,” Pinkney explained. “We have a diversity of students with very different needs, and when you are constantly stopping and starting a class because you have negative behaviors that are disruptive to the learning environment, it just creates such a challenge.”

Pinkney said that some of these disruptive behaviors have gotten worse during the pandemic and since students have returned to school.

“We can’t quite figure out why,” she said, “but teachers feel like they have to re-teach how to behave in a classroom.”

What can we do to help even outside of Teacher Appreciation Week?

Pinkney suggests parents go to a school board meeting and make public comments about the respect they feel and the support they want to give to educators.

“Every parent has a story about their child’s success that has to do with a teacher or counselor or librarian who motivated them, who saw something in them and encouraged them.”

Pinkney encourages parents to share those stories with schools and school boards.

Another suggestion is for parents to get into classrooms and volunteer.

“We can’t express how important and meaningful that is to teachers, to have that support,” she said. “We need to make sure we take care of our educators because they’re doing wonderful things in their classrooms, and they need to be recognized for that,” Pinkney encouraged.

You can recognize a teacher in your life or your child’s life, whether it’s Teacher Appreciation Week or not, on the Teacher Tribute Wall at KSL NewsRadio.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

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What teachers want during Teacher Appreciation week — R.E.S.P.E.C.T.