Today’s educators have shown remarkable strength, creativity, courage, and resilience in the face of immense challenges. Virtual instruction was entirely new to most teachers just two years ago — in a short amount of time, many embraced Zoom as a way to help open their classrooms to the world and developed new ways to teach and engage.
Our favorite educators do more than teach us about reading, writing, and arithmetic — they inspire us to learn, grow, and make connections throughout our lives. This Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re thrilled to highlight educators around the world who are connecting and inspiring their students.
Experiences outside the ordinary
Garett T. turned his virtual classroom into a creative outlet during the pandemic, designing unique and engaging lessons for his kindergarten students with costumes and props, and chronicling his teaching adventures on TikTok. He also brought his class on location to landmarks around Seattle, including T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners, where his students were excited to see themselves on the big screen!
A cross-country visit
Even when Ashley W.’s third-grade students returned to in-person learning, they still weren’t able to take field trips. When Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal sanctuary in Sultan, Washington, reached out to Ashley’s school to offer virtual learning opportunities, she jumped at the opportunity to welcome the nonprofit into her classroom. Her students had fun learning from animal experts and visiting the Healing Barn where vets take care of cats, dogs, goats, and more.
Taking the hybrid classroom outdoors
Mathias M., a professor in Magdeburg, Germany, held an outdoor hybrid learning session for his students, setting up an improvised whiteboard with a camera on it to write out equations, which were visible to students in person and those attending via Zoom. He also live-streamed the session to spectators on Twitch. “[In-person] participants acted as co-moderators between me and the Zoom participants, [pointing] out problems to me or [reading] out the chat to bridge the #hybridity gap,” Mathias said in a tweet about the experience.
Even with lecture halls reopening this summer, Mathias plans to organize more hybrid outdoor sessions, noting that some students enjoyed the fresh air while others liked being able to attend class without traveling to the university.
Bringing California history to life
Chanel K. took her fourth-grade students on virtual field trips to sites across the state without leaving their classroom in Gardena, California. “In fourth grade, we study California history,” she explained. “The virtual field trips are aligned with our social studies and science standards.”
Through the PORTS program, a distance learning program offered by California State Parks, Chanel’s students were able to tour places like the Columbia State Historic Park, where they got to see houses from “back in the old days”; Los Angeles State Historic Park, close to home, where they recognized some content from their science unit; and Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. “These opportunities through PORTS allowed my students to experience California history beyond the textbook,” Chanel said. “We are grateful for PORTS and Zoom for all of the opportunities we have had this year.”
Kind words go a long way
Sometimes, an educator’s most important lessons aren’t part of the class curriculum. Student Alexis M. captured an inspirational moment from her Zoom class in a TikTok, in which her math professor encouraged students to persevere, let go of academic stress, and focus on being a kind person. The post went viral with more than 4 million views! “As someone who’s struggled with math for years, I am so happy I signed up for her class,” Alexis said in her caption.
Getting creative with Zoom features
Tanja J., a private language tutor based in England, uses Zoom to connect with students in Wales, Switzerland, Germany, and Japan. She gets creative with Zoom’s features, including screen sharing and annotation, to give her students a chance to interact with the content live. For Easter, she introduced students to the reading exercise pictured above and hosted an Osterparty (Easter party), where students in Germany could participate in baking, singing, and storytime over Zoom.
Teaching movement & mindfulness
Amy Z., a wellness coach working with schools in Long Branch, New Jersey, had fun connecting with some of the district’s youngest learners in a virtual yoga and meditation session. She also hosts a Wellness Wednesday session over Zoom for the district every week. “It started out as a 10-minute brain break, which has evolved into a 30-minute inspirational session of connection and community with social-emotional learning, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, holistic wellness tools, and more! Over 100 classes attend and I’ve had student special guests share a variety of presentations,” she said.
We appreciate you, teachers!
An educator’s work isn’t confined to the classroom or the hours in a school day. To all the educators out there, we’re grateful for all you do to support learners and enrich their lives — for the long hours, lesson planning, energy, and passion you bring to your work. Your caring, creativity, and dedication have such a positive impact, not only on the students you teach, but on your community and the world. Thank you!