Public school teachers shoulder a monumental responsibility. We ask them to educate our next generation, but not every classroom has the resources students need to succeed.
The schools in your community need people like you, who understand that supporting teachers means listening to what they need most for their classrooms. Here are a few ways you can support public school teachers.
1. Volunteer at a local school
The simplest way to get a better understanding of what life is like inside a classroom is to spend some time there yourself. Many districts need volunteers with various skills to help by:
Giving students one-on-one tutoring in reading or math
Speaking to a high school class about your career path
Assisting the school’s library media specialist
Painting an elementary school during the summer
Chaperoning a field trip to a local museum
Joining the PTA/PTO
To start, give your neighborhood school a call or search online for “volunteer” along with the name of your local school district. Bigger districts, like Boston or Seattle, have pages with detailed instructions to get more involved. (Do you live near New York City? We also need volunteer help!)
Remember: no matter your expertise, your local school can likely use your help!
2. Support public libraries
For students who don’t have books or internet access at home, the library is an invaluable resource. About half of low-income families nationwide lack internet access, and libraries fill this gap for students. Many libraries also take an active role in education, providing after school programs and homework resources to expand learning beyond the classroom.
Your local library could use the support, financial or otherwise. Donate during their next fundraising campaign, or stop by and find out where they could most use your help.
3. Attend a local school board meeting
Most education spending and decision-making happens at the state and local level. That means you, as a voting citizen, have a voice to make sure teachers have the support they need.
First, try attending a few meetings to understand how your school board operates. Once you have a handle on the issues that are important in your district, make your voice heard. If you’re particularly passionate, consider running for your local school board.
4. Show a teacher you care
If it’s within your means, you can donate to a teacher’s classroom project on DonorsChoose.org (we’re a nonprofit, so it’s tax-deductible), and be sure to leave a comment with your donation explaining why you care.
You can also spread the word about a local teacher’s classroom project. Social media is a powerful tool, but word-of-mouth works, too. Try mentioning your favorite project to friends at your next book club meeting or bar trivia night.
Even a simple card or an energetic high five can help. Show your support in whatever way feels right.
5. Become a teacher
Fair warning: this isn’t for everyone. If you’re perfectly satisfied with your career or know that teaching isn’t for you, the ideas above are a great way to show support. Teaching is challenging and often thankless work.
But—as we hear from teachers every day—it can also be the most rewarding choice they’ve ever made and they wouldn’t think for a second about leaving the classroom. Teaching is a collaborative profession, so if you can bring energy and wisdom from a previous career into the classroom, you can make a difference for both students and your new colleagues.
How else do you support public school teachers?