Teacher Appreciation Week has once again come and gone. Lauding and applauding for five days, from those who have been impacted by an educator, directly or indirectly. Whether it be the third grade teacher that taught cursive writing or the high school teacher that inspired a love of writing or civics, the second week of May is the perfect time to show that teachers matter and that their role in your life — or your child’s life — has a special place in your heart.
As an educator, I always look forward to Teacher Appreciation Week. It falls during state testing, providing a brief respite from the high-stakes atmosphere that not a single teacher, student, or family relishes. The reinforcement of a hug, flowers, handwritten notes, or handmade crafts brighten my day. A small token of appreciation from the PTA or the staff luncheon provided by the administrative team is a welcome break from the monotony of the daily grind.
Teacher Appreciation Amidst a Political Maelstrom
This year, however, Teacher Appreciation Week has lost some of its luster. While the aforementioned gifts and signs of appreciation still came, teachers across Kentucky are suffering from repeated personal attacks by Governor Matt Bevin. They’re underappreciated and often deceived by the Republican leadership in Frankfort.
In a heated battle that’s served as a call to action for the over 40,000 educators across the Commonwealth, pensions have been threatened, state education programs have seen their budgets slashed, and districts are facing the real possibility that they will not have the funds necessary to stay in operation.
Teacher appreciation is something I think about a lot. When I was in the classroom full time, I so appreciated the notes from children and families — especially when they arrived at times other than Teacher Appreciation Week. However, it’s really awesome to be recognized as a group with your colleagues, and for that reason I’m thankful for the special things that happen each year at the beginning of May.
As a #NGSS teacher, learner, and coach, I have so much for which I’m thankful. I write this post to give a shout out to those who have been instrumental in helping me to become a much better #NGSS advocate and guru. Through my own learning, I became a better listener and collaborator, and now I can pay it forward by working with other teachers. There’s no educator who has had a greater impact on my #NGSS journey and my work than Dr. Stephen Pruitt.
Dr. Stephen Pruitt
Stephen Pruitt, who I like to call the “Father of NGSS,” was my first NGSS teacher. There are so many things I’ve learned from Stephen that they would be impossible to enumerate in full.
- Most notably, he taught me how important it is to believe in myself as a science educator.
- Stephen helped me to understand the importance of the three dimensions of NGSS, and how weaving those strands into meaningful science teaching and learning makes a strong and beautiful rope. While each of the dimensions is important as part of the foundation of learning, sense-making doesn’t truly happen until each of the dimensions are interwoven.
- Stephen also taught me how to “eliminate black boxes” as an adult learner, so I could use that learning in my work with teachers and children.
These are just three examples of the ways that Dr. Stephen Pruitt has impacted me and my work as an educator. I appreciate him tremendously and I find myself wondering, if Stephen had such a profound impact on my work, what impact has he had on educators across the country? I decided to ask a few colleagues for their thoughts in an effort to find out.
“What if you chose to teach, because you could be anything.”
~ Talia Milgrom-Elcott, 100kin10 2018 Summit
Remember when you wanted to be an ER surgeon who performed on Broadway during the weekends? No? Well, what about that summer you wanted to be a pink flamingo? Still no? Ok, well, do you remember that time when you chose to be a teacher?
Looking back, none of these career choices would have been easy (especially that flamingo gig); but teaching is hard — really hard. We may have chosen this job, but at this time of year, with all the challenges of the day, why do we continue to do this? Why do we continue to push students to become their best selves, towards what we believe they are capable of — shooting for the moon and beyond — even when they don’t understand why?
In 1949, when I was twenty-one years old, I took a creative writing course at the New School in Manhattan, taught by Professor Don M. Wolfe. He had been my freshman English teacher at New York University, where I graduated in 1947, just two months shy of my twentieth birthday.
Dr. Wolfe assigned compositions and encouraged us to stretch the language to create imaginative imagery and use muscular words to tell our stories and create our plots. He was extremely diligent in his reading of our material. When I would receive one of my compositions back, he wrote his criticisms in red ink scrawls and you felt dead certain that he had read every word. It was through those red scrawls that I interpreted his message.
You can write, son. Keep at it.
Many students can cite similar experiences: the mentor, the inspiration, the great teacher who took the student under her or his wing and made the crucial difference, who pointed the way to a fulfilling and prosperous career.
In that fateful freshman year, largely due to Dr. Wolfe’s inspiration (of which he was surely unaware), I decided to be a writer of fiction. I changed my major to English Literature, gloried in the study of the extraordinary western canon of authors, and have since then pursued a lifetime of obsessive composition of novels, short stories, essays, and poems. I’ve been through every imaginable phase of rejection, insult, deprecation, praise, acceptance, and a moment or two of lionization.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
We’re kicking off our week of Tchers’ favorite things by gifting you with time. Well, sort of! Since we can’t literally give you more time in your day, or give you a longer prep period (though we wish we could!), we hope to cut back on your planning time by showing you a few easy strategies you can try right away.
Demonstrated by some of our long-time favorites, like Sarah Brown Wessling, to brand-new teachers like Marquis Colquitt, these four new videos will give you fresh tools for your teacher toolkit.
Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11, 2018
The school year may be winding down, but spring is definitely one of the most stressful times of the year for teachers. So what better time to show our love and admiration for the special and amazing teachers in our lives? It’s also the perfect time to slow down and take care of ourselves as educators. This Teacher Appreciation Week, we’ve got you covered with gift ideas and self-care advice for educators like you.
Here at Tch, our goal is to appreciate teachers all day, every day. This Teacher Appreciation Week, we want to give you what you really need: more time and more energy, plus opportunities to relax, splurge, and learn. Sounds good, right?!
Here’s what we have in store for you this Teacher Appreciation Week!
Teaching is a rewarding profession on its own, but we also know the importance of elevating teachers that take initiative. The ones who put themselves out there and respond to the needs of their colleagues. Teachers like Meg Richard, a seventh grade science teacher at California Trail Middle School in Olathe, Kansas.
Meg has been an active content contributor as an NGSS Squadster, offering ideas and strategies which have proven to be of great interest and value for our followers. In response, we’re now re-introducing Meg as a Teaching Channel Laureate so she can share even more of her practice with our Tch audience.
Each year, Teaching Channel has the pleasure of publishing great ideas, thoughtful reflections, and helpful advice from our community of educators in our Tchers’ Voice blog. This year was no exception! We published posts from writers across the country, covering topics from classroom management to the solar eclipse. In case you missed any of these amazing posts, here’s a wrap up of our top reads.
American Education Week (November 13-17), first celebrated in 1921, is an opportunity to celebrate public education, to inform the community of the accomplishments and needs of public schools, to secure cooperation and support from the public, and to honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education.
How will you kick off American Education Week?