Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have played a pivotal role in ensuring that children maintained their education during quickly changing times. Switching to online learning in the spring and beginning a new school year in a virtual environment, teachers have shown their resiliency during uncertain times.

October 5 th is World Teachers’ Day, and this year’s theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future,” celebrates the more than 350,000 dedicated educators across the state of Texas and teachers around the world.

“We all recognize the impact that teachers have on our world,” Dr. Belinda Flores, College of Education and Human Development Associate Dean of Professional Preparation and Partnerships said. “It’s nice to have a day like World Teachers’ Day that is dedicated to celebrating them and the amazing work they do in our community.”

Developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with UNICEF, the International Labour Organization, and Education International, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers.

In May of this year, the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) at UTSA partnered with more than 125 businesses and organizations from around the state to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week 2020 through the #TeachersCan initiative. Since its launch, participating organizations have hosted additional activities and events to help continue the momentum of celebrating teachers all year long.

“This partnership has allowed us to highlight the amazing COEHD alumni and clinical teachers in our programs,” Dr. Flores said. “We want to continue to honor teachers on World Teachers’ Day, and encourage teachers in the field to share their stories through social media and use the #UTSARoadrunnerTeachersCan.”

The #TeachersCan initiative is also encouraging community members and businesses to show appreciation by thanking teachers on social media, tying a light blue ribbon on trees around their home/school, and by showing how “Teachers Light the Way” by lighting their buildings up in blue beginning at 5 p.m. on October 5 th.

While the initiative aims to highlight the efforts and hard work of educators, COEHD remains dedicated to educating future and current educators. With multiple Master’s and Doctoral programs, teacher certification programs, and research centers, COEHD is focused on producing new educators by providing first-rate educational opportunities and fostering groundbreaking educational research.

“We are committed to not only educating current students but providing necessary training and resources to educators in the field,” Dr. Flores said. “Through our research centers and learning centers, we continue to support teachers even after they’ve graduated.”

This summer, as teachers prepared to meet the new year in a virtual setting, COEHD’s Academy for Teacher Excellence (ATE) Research Center hosted their annual Summer Bridging Institute. The free event focused on topics aimed at educating attendees on new and innovative ways of instructing students in a virtual environment.

One workshop taught by Dr. Karina Villa titled “Bitmoji Virtual Classroom in Google Slides” showed attendees how to create a bitmoji virtual interactive classroom using Google slides. Not only does this add a personal touch to the classroom, the tools allow students to easily navigate and locate materials such as videos, apps, websites, and assignments.

“It’s almost like you’re still in the classroom, it’s more engaging and more personal,” UTSA Senior Camille Veith studying Interdisciplinary Studies at COEHD said. “Using the bitmoji is even better because it looks like you! It made me really excited about virtual learning and distance learning; I’m really motivated now.”

Through initiatives like World Teachers’ Day and #TeachersCan, the community can continue to celebrate the hard work and efforts our educators continue to provide despite the many unforeseen challenges they face.

“Teaching is a most noble profession. We do not do our jobs for fame or money. We do it for the betterment of our communities, we do it because someone did the same for us,” Florian Love, UTSA alum and Orchestra Director at Vale Middle School teacher said. “World Teachers’ Day shines a light on the moral and intellectual ‘motors’ of our society. I am humbled to be one in that number.”