5 simple ways to support teachers all year long

(BPT) - A love of learning and a passion for children is what makes teachers special. As COVID-19 impacted schools across the country earlier this year, teachers proved their agility in shifting gears quickly to teach students as effectively as possible. Now schools begin the 2020-21 school year, and teachers again are critical in shaping children's education during uncertain times.

Whether your community's schools are welcoming students back in person, online or a mix of both, it's the teachers who have the hard work of making school a positive experience no matter the circumstances. This year in particular, it's critical to support teachers to position them for success so students can thrive. Consider these five steps in supporting teachers and showing you care.

Add extra supplies: Go beyond the supplies list and buy extras for the teacher. This might be adding extra glue sticks and pencils, or, making a teacher's care basket with personal items like hand lotion, sanitizing wipes, tea and coffee, stickers, etc. What's more, remember that supplies are needed all school year long. At the start of school the supply closet is bursting, but a few months later it might be sparse. A mid-year supply drop-off is sure to be appreciated. You might even consider running a supply drive to help teachers in need throughout the year.

Ask about volunteer opportunities: In-person volunteer opportunities may be limited or unavailable right now, so be proactive and ask teachers about virtual or distance volunteering options. You might be able to lead a virtual story time, organize a book club, help by checking digital papers, dropping off items at students' homes and much more. Simply reach out to your teacher to show your willingness to help and you can discuss volunteer opportunities that match your skills and interests. Beyond the classroom, check out volunteer opportunities at libraries, study halls, community centers and more.

Vote to fund a cause: Whether it's to support a local school teacher or to fund a cause close to your heart, a simple online vote can help make a difference. SONIC’s Limeades for Learning Fall Voting campaign takes place Sept. 28, 2020, through Oct. 25, 2020. During this four-week campaign, visit LimeadesforLearning.com to vote for teacher projects you want to support. You can search by keyword or category to choose projects that are meaningful to you. At the end of each week SONIC funds the winning projects, donating a total of $1 million.

Stay up to date: Being informed not only helps you understand what's happening in your student's world, it helps you be a more engaged partner in their education. Teachers appreciate parents and caregivers who stay up to date by reading grade newsletters promptly, checking emails from the school often and visiting classroom websites or social media pages regularly. Additionally, consider attending school board meetings, even if it's virtually, so you know what's happening in the district.

Practice patience and understanding: The 2020-21 school year contains a lot of unknowns. Whether it's in-person, virtual or hybrid, remember to practice patience and understanding with educators as they navigate these new waters. Everyone is in this together and teachers are doing their best. Remember, the attitude you project about school is what your children will reflect, so make sure to stay positive and make the best of any situation as the year unfolds.

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