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May 3, 2022

Lessons About Teacher Appreciation from Abbott Elementary

The hit new network TV show Abbott Elementary almost feels like a love note to educators. The mockumentary-style comedy, set in an underfunded fictional school in West Philadelphia, follows a group of dedicated teachers and a hilarious, self-absorbed principal. Creator, writer, and star Quinta Brunson’s mother was a teacher in Philadelphia, and teachers are on the show’s writing staff. This authentic perspective shines through in each episode, evoking the challenges and joys of the profession in a way that many teachers will find relatable. 

In an interview with Education Week, Ms. Brunson shared that she wanted to “[capture] the nuances of the teaching profession, the significance of Black teachers and predominantly Black schools like Abbott, and the hope that the show can garner more support for real teachers across the country.” Judging from the response–the show tops ABC’s rating list and it’s huge on Twitter–Abbott Elementary is resonating with educators, families, and even students. It’s a show multiple generations can enjoy watching together, which is rare these days! 

This teacher appreciation week, let’s highlight a few clips from the first three episodes (no spoiler alerts here!) that demonstrate how amazing teachers are! 

1. Teachers are committed to teaming with parents to support kids–even when it’s awkward, and involves a visit to a nail salon!

Teachers Manicure

2. Educators will go to great lengths to get the supplies their students need, such as how Janine acquires a new rug for her classroom.

New Rug in Classroom

3. They take on a multitude of roles to get things done, like when Janine tackles a faulty lightbulb and ends up dabbling in rewiring!

Teacher changing a lighbulb

4. They make a difference as mentors and supportive teammates to newer teachers, too!

5. And most importantly, educators’ care for students extends far beyond academics, to physical, mental, and social-emotional health, too!

Teachers

As veteran teacher Melissa says, “We care so much, we refuse to burn out. Otherwise, you open up a whole new Panera’s box of problems.” While these scenes make us laugh, they also demonstrate how teachers go above and beyond to educate students. Sometimes this means sacrificing their own money, time outside of school, or even their health, to support students’ success and wellbeing. This Teacher Appreciation Week, in addition to thanking the educators in our lives, let’s advocate for systemic changes–equitable funding for needed supplies, support from administration, and safe and functional school environments–so that teachers can focus on what’s most important–educating children! If you haven’t watched Abbott Elementary yet, you can stream Season 1 on Hulu now, or check out Season 2 on ABC just in time for back-to-school this Fall.

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