WASHINGTON - The first full week of May has been National Teacher Appreciation Week for decades. But this year, with students not in school buildings as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and educators working in new ways to teach from a distance, deliver meals, and more, the occasion is more meaningful than ever. And a new national poll shows parents and guardians overwhelmingly approve of how educators are handling the pandemic.
“Educators and education support professionals make a difference in the lives of millions of students every day in schools and [on] college campuses across the country, and their work and impact extend far beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “Never have all of our nation’s educators been more appreciated and seen—even as they work with students from a distance.”
Results of the national poll by NEA show parents and guardians express extremely positive views of educators. More than 80 percent of parents/guardians view public school teachers very favorably. Eighty-eight percent of parents approve of how their children’s teachers are handling the coronavirus pandemic. This is significantly higher than their approval of how many others’ have responded, including their governor (71%), and their mayor or local government (73%). The national survey was conducted by GBAO Strategies and included a survey of 800 parents and guardians of school-aged children who attend a public school.
The poll also showed that parents and guardians believe educators are working hard to communicate with them, that educators are finding ways to connect with students who don’t have internet access and they are giving their students more one-on-one assistance.
“As they always do, educators are stepping up to help America’s students in the face of this unprecedented global crisis,” says NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. “This year’s week-long celebration provides a timely opportunity to thank not just teachers, but all educators. We all have seen very inspiring stories about educators who are finding creative ways to engage students, and grateful parents who understand in a more profound way what it means to continuously reach, teach, and inspire, even from a distance.”
It took teachers and faculty a matter of days—and, in many cases, a few hours—to move their classes online when school buildings across the nation closed because of COVID-19. Despite the challenges of distance learning, which can make it difficult to develop the kinds of relationships that support learning, educators have demonstrated strong commitment and creativity in providing students with continuous learning opportunities.
National Teacher Day began in 1953 when former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt proposed that Congress set aside a day to acknowledge the work of educators. Since 1985, NEA has celebrated National Teacher Day on the Tuesday of the first full week of May. For more information on National Teacher Day visit nea.org/appreciate.
Since 1984, National PTA has designated one week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week, a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. PTA events at the national, state and local levels celebrate the outstanding contributions teachers make.
“We know that appreciation alone will not reduce the challenges teachers face right now to help meet the needs of their students but celebrating them and their work to help students will let them know their efforts are not unnoticed,” says Eskelsen García.
Findings from a national survey of educators will be released in the coming weeks.
- Celeste Busser