A Letter of Love and Gratitude to Teachers During the Pandemic

Dear Teachers,

It’s hard to believe, but we are almost at the end of another school year. With the exception that kids must wear a mask every day, and parents are not permitted to enter school buildings, you have made it feel as normal as possible. Sometimes, we even forget how lucky we are to be able to send our kids to school when other states haven’t had that option.

This year helped us recognize that your job is ESSENTIAL. You have always been there, giving your best, but it wasn’t until we had to do it ourselves that we realized you do way more than we recognized each day.

I don’t say it enough and I certainly forget how this year started sometimes, but I want to recognize everything you have been through with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

I saw you, worrying about the beginning of the school year.

You knew everything was going to be different, but you knew as little as we parents did. All the answers were up in the air, and when I reached out to you, I realized you felt the same way I did, but you were ready to start. You had the best possible attitude to make this year a success and tried to ease my worries.

I saw you adapting to new ways of teaching, virtually.

You probably never imagined that the 2019-2020 school year was going to end online, but you quickly learned about new ways of interacting with the kids through a screen. And at the beginning of the new school year, you had your game plan ready. You created avatars with your own image and discovered hundreds of resources that could help your students to be engaged while learning online. I know it wasn’t easy and I know that prepping for this school year took way more time than any other school year, but you did it and the results are clearly great.

I saw you, thinking about early retirement.

Yes, I know that for some, continuing to teach wasn’t an option if they had to be in front of the classroom, with the risk of getting sick and spreading the virus to your own families (probably with high risk conditions). I don’t know the full story of those who had to think about early retirement or to put a pause on their careers, but I know you left without being recognized as they deserved, and I want to say THANK YOU.

I saw you, putting your own health to the side to be there for your students.

You told me the other day that you were blessed to never get sick, but the truth is you were also afraid because the risk is there, and it could happen to anyone. You decided to do your best under these challenging circumstances. You decided to wear a mask for eight consecutive hours, to raise your voice a little more because of this, and to use hand sanitizer a thousand times a day.

I’ve seen you, keeping up with the students virtually and in person – at the same time.

Teaching virtually wasn’t easy because you were teaching in front of the camera, reminding students to mute their microphones and finding ways for everyone to participate. And at some point you had to keep up with both, and teach students in the classroom while also teaching through Zoom. I can’t imagine how challenging it’s been. I can’t imagine how stressed you were at the end of the day because inevitably, there are a lot of situations that you can’t control. But I can tell you I’m forever thankful you were willing to go out of your comfort zone to do this.

I’ve seen you, worrying about the health of your students when you had a sick person in the classroom.

You prayed for everyone to stay healthy, and you worried when you listened to someone coughing or realized a student was feeling sick. If you had a student that turned out to be COVID-positive, you worried about them and everyone around, including all your students and their families.

I’ve seen you, thinking about the best resources for the kids to learn.

Even though you managed without it all year, you worried your students were missing out on the interaction and learning that sharing in small groups gives. You still wish they could be sharing more and are always thinking about ideas for them to interact.

I’ve seen you, reminding the kids for the 10th time to keep their distance and wear their masks correctly.

Yes, that’s a challenge itself regardless of how old kids are. While little ones sometimes struggle to have their masks on all day, teenagers also get desperate, but you are ready to remind them of the benefits. You remind them to wear their mask properly and you even placed stickers around the classroom to remind them to keep the appropriate distance.

I’ve seen you, feeling excited to get your vaccine.

When they announced that teachers would be among the priority groups, you jumped in excitement and were ready to do it. You talked to your students about it and demonstrated that you are doing your part. As you readied for the vaccine, you were also ready to do anything that could take us back to normal.

And now I’m seeing you, worrying again about next school year.

You hope it will be better, you hope to have more answers this time, and you certainly wish everything is going to be as ‘normal’ as possible.

THANK YOU, thank you for everything you do each day and that sometimes goes unnoticed. THANK YOU for deciding to give your time and love to help shape little minds into responsible adults.

Born and raised in the north part of Mexico, Aidée is a mom of two boys who considers San Antonio a great place to raise kids, even though all her family lives on the other side of the border. She speaks only Español at home and tries to teach her boys about their heritage, learning as well about American traditions and having fun adapting to both cultures. Favorite Restaurant: Palenque Grill Favorite Landmark: Mission San Jose Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Rodeo