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Appreciating teachers role during the pandemic on this International Day of Education

By Aakanksha Tangri, Founder of Re:Set   If you ask around, most people have one teacher or professor that stands out as we reflect on our education. They’ve pushed us to do better, they’ve instilled in us

By Aakanksha Tangri, Founder of Re:Set

 

If you ask around, most people have one teacher or professor that stands out as we reflect on our education. They’ve pushed us to do better, they’ve instilled in us that we are more capable than we think, they’ve expressed their confidence. We may have disagreed in angst, but in hindsight they’ve played a key role in our development. Despite their integral place in our lives, educators around the world have long been underappreciated for their hard work, long hours, patience and the role they play in aiding a child’s growth.

 

This has been especially evident over the past year as parents stayed home and realized just how much goes into teaching, as they were sitting in on their children’s classes or could overhear a teacher calmly explain the same concept over again.

 

With hybrid learning here to stay, it is even more imperative that teachers are provided with the tools they need to succeed and to stay in the profession. Teacher attrition has for long been a problem, and the pandemic has only intensified the pressures teachers face. The boundaries between work and home have been blurred and many teachers, who are also parents, are on the brink of burnout.

 

We need to ensure that wellness programmes are put into place for educators, making sure that they’re provided with the resources they need to succeed and stay in their roles. We need to encourage teachers to take time off so they can reset their bodies and minds. In countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, more funding needs to be allocated for public schools and towards education so teachers’ salaries can be increased as many find themselves severely underpaid and struggling to make ends meet. There are numerous stories of teachers buying classroom supplies out of their own pocket because of inadequate funding. Here in the Middle East, we have to look at supporting our educators and prioritizing their well-being. Teachers could, for example, be assigned mandatory mental health breaks with the school  implementing regular check-ins with internal or external psychologists to help them cope up with the current situation and its challenging demands.

 

When a child is upset at school or is on the receiving end of an unpleasant comment from a peer, more often than not it’s the teacher that steps in to help the child navigate their emotions. Teachers are often the first adult outside of the family a child interacts with on a daily basis, and they keep an eye on their student’s well-being. It is equally important for us, as a society, to prioritize teacher well-being.

 

It’s teachers who spot a child’s inclination towards a certain subject or sport and gently nudge them to delve deeper into it lest a lifelong interest be sparked. My love for reading was spotted by my elementary school teacher who lovingly left books on my desk for me to devour. That love for reading has led me to pursue a career as a journalist today.

 

Over the course of the pandemic, in countries where not all children have had access to the internet and devices to access distance learning, teachers have tirelessly and diligently adapted their teaching methods across platforms and sent voice notes or typed messages with lesson plans to ensure their students don’t fall behind. They’ve often kept the camera on post class hours speaking and listening to the child so that a parent can finish that chore or meeting.

 

In our daily hustle and our own struggles, we often look at what’s going wrong and it can be easy to complain when a teacher doesn’t respond immediately or hasn’t found the time to speak to you or explain something to your child. In that moment, remember that teachers are doing the best they can in these unusual circumstances and they’re often working long hours sacrificing their own well-being. In a lot of countries, teachers are working in school without adequate PPE and are stressed beyond their means to ensure children wear their masks,  follow social distancing and don’t get infected. Take the time to appreciate them and say a few kind words. Acknowledge the circumstances they find themselves in. Give them the leeway they need to avoid being burned out.

 

 

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