Today, on Thank a Teacher Day, you would expect me to write about the importance of teachers. You would expect me to acknowledge their dedication, skill, work ethic, care, love and their sheer, up-till-midnight, lesson-planning hard graft. You would expect all that. But you might not feel it. This time though, I think, is different.
We’ve always known teachers are special. As parents, we entrust them with our children every day. Indeed, teachers sometimes spend more hours of the day with our loved ones than we do. We know that they expand our children’s minds, widen their worlds and can change their lives. We know they provide fun, laughter, discipline, community and creativity. We know all this, but did we ever really feel it before?
Well, we do now. Coronavirus has given parents ‑ and the wider world ‑ a crash course in the realities of teaching. We know what it is to unpack decimals and place value grids, to stick a fronted adverbial in a sentence, conjugate a Latin verb or divide 386 by 2.7. We also know what it feels like to be a chef, head of pastoral, a music teacher, PE teacher, SEN support and form tutor. We might even have an inkling of insight into what Heads have to cope with on a daily basis. Many of us now know a little of how it feels to be a teacher.
And we are thankful. Truly, madly, deeply thankful. Not least that our children go somewhere every day where they are safe, loved and educated. Parents who are having to home-school their children, hold down full-time jobs, cook, clean and clear up are more than aware that school matters at the most basic level. It is somewhere else for our children to be. Not just in another place, but in their own worlds, their own communities, where they extend themselves, make friends, and grow.
But teachers provide much more than that. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that teachers love their jobs, love their craft, and love our children. To be a teacher is a vocation. And like our frontline NHS workers, the dedication of teachers during the Coronavirus has been extraordinary.
When I hear about schools reopening, I think of our schools which, like many in the UK, have never closed. The majority of GDST schools have been open every day since 20 March for the children of key workers and for vulnerable children. I think about our teachers working so hard to keep those schools open – through the Easter holidays and beyond. I think about the stories I have read of teachers in deprived areas of the UK who are keeping their schools open and children supported, learning and often fed, when those children’s families are themselves struggling. And all the teachers, at home or in school, working together to provide stimulating, engaging, enriching home learning for their students nationwide.
So, I want to thank you, teachers everywhere, for being everything. To us and to our children.
Now more than ever.