Teaching Matters - Teacher Appreciation Week Special Edition, May 9, 2012


Teacher Appreciation Week Special Edition

May 9, 2012  |  Sign up to receive Teaching Matters

2011-2012 TAFs

TAFs Rethink Teacher Appreciation

Great teachers build nations. They inspire, awaken and raise our children’s expectations. They coax imaginations and lead students to discovery. Teachers shape the next generation of decision-makers. For this reason, we appreciate teachers. On the occasion of this year's Teacher Appreciation Week, the U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellows suggest that we begin to think more meaningfully about teacher appreciation so that we don't only show physical tokens of appreciation but rather consider how teacher leadership can be supported and teacher voice can lead the transformation of the profession. Read more.   

Ask the Teachers

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Secretary Arne Duncan reflects on what he has learned from the field about how teachers can lead the transformation of their profession.
"When I ask teachers why they teach, they almost always say that it is because they want to make a difference in the lives of children. They talk about the joys of teaching and the singular rewards of watching children learn. Often they mention former students who get in touch years after they graduate to thank them for their success. Yet stories of lasting and life-changing teacher-student relationships contrast starkly with what teachers say when asked about their profession." Read the full Huffington Post op-ed by Secretary Arne Duncan.

Arne and Darlene McCampbell

Thank you, Mrs. McCampbell

A Note of Appreciation from Secretary Arne Duncan
Darlene McCampbell, my high school English teacher, was an extraordinary teacher. She challenged us, encouraged us, and brought out the best in us. Mrs. McCampbell is still teaching and inspiring students today.

Valuing Teacher Voice

Breakfasts and recess duty versus teachers' opportunity for democratic engagement in policy - which tokens of appreciation would teachers value more? In this blog post, 2010 Teaching Ambassador Fellow Steve Owens discusses the need for opportunity to incorporate teacher voice into policy discussions. Creating the time and space for this opportunity in a teacher's day is his ideal form of teacher appreciation.  

A Displaced Welder Tests his Metal... in the Classroom

When José Grimaldo lost his job as a welder at a factory in Illinois, he decided to go back to school to become a social worker. His path quickly changed after an inspirational and serendipitous volunteer assignment at a local school... He has since found his calling as a bilingual teacher.   
graduate in cap and gown

Arne and TOY at Gala

Celebrating the Teachers of the Year

“A teacher is the key to a child reaching their potential,” President Obama said during a White House ceremony to recognize the State Teachers of the Year and to present the 2012 National Teacher of the Year Award to Rebecca Mieliwocki, a 7th grade teacher English teacher from Burbank, California. This ceremony was just one of a number of activities intended to celebrate and honor these teachers.  Read more. Watch the video. For more information about Teachers of the Year, visit the Council of Chief State School Officers website.

Thank You, Mr. Woolsey

A Note of Appreciation from Teaching Ambassador Fellow Madonna Ramp
As the third of six kids in a divorced family struggling to navigate the decaying post-industrial economy of a small prison town in south central Michigan in the early 80’s, my path could have been a bleak one. I was lucky to have a few key adults reach out to me as mentors throughout my childhood, providing stability during unstable times, and sending me down a path of resilience and hope... My Cross Country coach, Mike Woolsey, created a culture of excellence that changed my life trajectory. He ensured that every one of his 36 runners was invested in team and individual goals, and that their goals and roles were equally valued. Read more.

RESPECT in the News

RESPECT Vision Released for Public Comment.  Written after more than 200 roundtable discussions with thousands of teachers, the resulting teacher-written RESPECT document lays out a vision for a transformed teaching profession. Read more to find out how to review and comment on the vision. Click here for more information on the RESPECT Project.
teachers of the year speaking
State Teachers of the Year Advise ED.  At the end of a week of activities in Washington to honor the accomplishments of the State Teachers of the Year, those teachers engaged in a conversation at ED about how to improve the teaching profession. The afternoon proved enlightening, engaging, and most of all, inspiring. Read more.

International Reading Association Teacher Advisory Panel Gives Feedback to ED.  Classroom Fellow Robert Baroz tapped this specific group of educators for their unique perspective on the RESPECT vision. Read more.

Newlywed. Newcomer. New teacher.

A Note of Appreciation from Teaching Ambassador Fellow Kareen Borders
That was me when, as a 24-year-old, I moved to San Luis Obispo and secured my first job in a small, migrant farming community on the central coast of California. I was lucky to get a job, but even more fortunate to land in one of the most supportive, collaborative, and team-oriented environments possible. At Kermit McKenzie Junior High School in Guadalupe, California, I was given the gift of being allowed to try and fail---to a degree. I never got too far off track because I was surrounded by teachers who knew when and how to give support. These mentors encouraged me to share ideas, come up with new lessons, and bounce ideas off of them. When I needed to know more about my students’ culture, one offered to take me on home visits and had parents bring in meals for the class so that I could sample the ethnic dishes (absolutely delicious!) enjoyed by my students. When I asked about science supplies, the other science teacher invited me into his classroom and said, "These are your supplies too.”
During Teacher Appreciation Week, my thank-you goes out to those professionals who supported and nurtured me as a new teacher---Cheri Brown, Joyce Crume, David Hosking, Olivia Rubacalva, Richard Crain, Floyd Billigmeier, Susan Gerard, and Superintendent Hugo Lara. I often wonder if my path would be as fruitful had I not had the privilege of working with this amazing group of educators at Mckenzie Junior High. Go Bobcats!


The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

In this reprise of an oldie but goodie, molecular-biologist-turned- high-school-biology-teacher Dennis Hong responds to the notion that teaching is an "easy job." He reflects on teachers’ amazing ability to inspire kids, which he says is “downright damned near close to impossible sometimes." Read more.

Teachers' Notes

  • Check out the U.S. Department of Education's activities and events in celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week.
  • Watch the videos of Bill Nye the Science Guy, Mayim Bialik, PhD and actor on “The Big Bang Theory, Jamie Hyneman from TV’s MythBusters, and other celebrities, thanking their favorite teachers. 
  • Join Secretary Duncan by thanking another teacher that inspires you on Twitter by using the hashtag #ThankaTeacher.
  • Read this Huffington Post blog post, in which Catherine Okafor expresses gratitude for a teacher who went above the call of her job duties, who encouraged rather than discouraged, and who ultimately, played a key role in helping her earn a college degree.

Thank You, Ms. Balaban

A Note of Appreciation from Teaching Ambassador Fellow Geneviève DeBose
I was 8 years old when Ms. Balaban was my teacher; 26 years later, she still stands out as one of my favorites. My 4th grade class at Carthay Center Elementary School in Los Angeles, California was an ethnic and economic slice of our beautiful city. We were a diverse lot, and Gina Balaban made all of us feel welcome and loved. She made learning fun. From the engaging read-alouds after lunch to the Animal of the Week (preserved by taxidermists), to the marble jar, to her mom’s weekly visits, Ms. Balaban taught us that learning can be collaborative, engaging and applicable to our lives. Even though I didn’t know it at the time, she was a model for the type of teacher that I would become. Thank you, Ms. Balaban, for creating a space where all of your students could - and wanted to - learn. I appreciate you.
Genevieve DeBose and her teacher

Future Education Transformers

Who will lead the transformation of education? Sara Mead identifies her 17 picks for this generation's leaders, including leaders such as Ama Nyamekye and Teaching Ambassador Fellow Geneviève DeBose, who are working to bring teacher voice to the table. Read the EdWeek blog post. Read Sara Mead's profile on  Geneviève DeBose.  

Kareen Borders
Ask Mrs. Borders

About Teacher Appreciation

Teaching Ambassador Fellows answer teachers’ burning questions about education policy. In this issue, middle school science teacher Kareen Borders takes up Teacher Appreciation Week and discusses how to use the contacts made with parents during this time to build relationships between families and teachers.
Teacher Question (TQ):  Why do we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week?
Mrs. Borders (Mrs. B):  In 2009, Arne Duncan gave a speech to the NEA in which he recounted some of the qualities of America’s teachers. “All of us remember an educator or coach who changed our life. It stays with us forever. It sustains us, guides us, and inspires us. They’re the ones who commit those everyday acts of kindness and love and never ask for anything in return. They counsel troubled teens, take phone calls at night, and reach into their pockets for lunch money for children who are too ashamed to ask…These are the qualities of a great educator and we have millions of them all across America." During teacher appreciation week, students, families, and our whole nation honor the committed and talented teachers who nurture and build our nation’s youth. Read more.

Top 5 Teacher Appreciation Quotes

Appreciation for teachers heard by ED

5. A 16 year old student on his Spanish teacher: "Mrs. D'Hont is the BEST! She is reading The Hunger Games with me and then she's going to the movie too! I FINALLY have someone to talk to about the books who really gets it! She's awesome!" (Hill City, S.D.)    
4. Quoting Peter Parker, in reference to the significance of teaching: "With great power comes great responsibility.” (N.J.)
Teacher speaking to TOYs
3. “I teach to change the script. For me, everything is on the table.” (Ore.)
2. “This is a great day to celebrate teachers, but we have to do this all year.” (Secretary Arne Duncan)
1. On a colleague who prefers a piece of older technology in her classroom: “She can rock that overhead [projector] like nobody’s business.” (N.J.)