Teacher Appreciation Week – A Year of Transitions
This Teacher Appreciation Week we give giant, shiny gold stars to the more than 300 teachers, substitute teachers and home visitors at Children’s Institute! Last year was like no other and our early childhood educators supported kids and their families in remarkable ways, with passion and dedication through all the transitions of the pandemic. Amidst all the juggling and coordinating and lesson planning and safety training, they kept a positive attitude and made sure their students continued to experience the joy of learning without skipping a beat.
In March 2020, CII preschools serving 1,500 children across nearly 30 locations had transformed overnight into virtual early childhood education hubs. Throughout the year, teachers overhauled lesson plans and placed weekly calls to families while creating content for a weekly e-newsletter, specialized YouTube channel and learning app. Six months later, in September, they reopened 13 classrooms in 12 centers, and in April, they opened 11 more classrooms.
It’s an understatement to say this took Herculean effort. During Safer at Home, teachers frequently checked in, becoming key lifelines for identifying immediate needs and connecting families with free resources in their community for rent assistance, job placement, domestic violence reporting and much more. CII preschool sites were converted into distribution centers where staff handed out meals while items like diapers, formula, soap and other essentials were delivered directly to families.
When it came time to open, it wasn’t just back to business as usual. There were safety protocols and CDC guidelines to learn and follow. These affect daily routines, classroom set up, lesson planning, interactions with the children and the children’s interactions with each other. Disinfecting, cleaning and separating – providing each child with his/her own cubby and package of materials like crayons, which the whole classroom ordinarily shares, and monitoring play to make sure toys get cleaned before the next child takes a turn to play.
CII’s behavioral staff has been adapting as well – first to conducting virtual observations and then to getting extra training in our Conscious Discipline curriculum. They stepped in to help with the unique behavior and self-regulation challenges these changes and new learning environments have posed.
The teachers’ work had always been about much more than teaching but this year their dedication was extraordinary. Alongside their students and families, many have experienced tremendous personal loss and stress. But their work has never faltered and their students have been a source of pride and comfort. We are very grateful and excited to take time this week to celebrate each and every one of them.
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