25 Reasons to Give Thanks for Teachers

thanksgiving and teachers
child's hands holding an apple for his teacher on the first day of school ** Note: Slight graininess, best at smaller sizes

As we prepare to gather round Thanksgiving tables and give thanks, it is a great opportunity to give thanks for teachers, for the many things they do every day to enrich the lives of students.

While it’s pretty intuitive to know our expressions of gratitude might benefit another person (and that’s enough motivation!), there are also many scientifically proven benefits of gratitude, including:

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships
  2. Gratitude improves physical health
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  5. Grateful people sleep better
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength

Team Getting Smart worked together to provide examples of teachers and educators for whom we are grateful — and especially for the way they promote student-centered environments.

Organized by 25 teacher behaviors we can all appreciate, this list will jog some stories that remind you of a teacher in your life.

    1. Persisting. There is a lot of emphasis on helping students practice a growth mindset, to persist through challenges. East Ridge High School teachers Mrs. Garrison, Mr. Carlson, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Parker and Frau Young are great examples of teachers who help students persist through what may be multiple attempts at a project or problem.
    2. Iterating. Thought processes are complex. Dr. Cohen @MySTEMClass, K-6 STEM teacher in Cincinnati Public Schools, is constantly experimenting with his students so that they will experiment, model design thinking and develop maker mindsets.
    3. Exploring. When teachers explore new things, they open doors for students. Project Lead The Way (@PLTWorg) teachers like Mrs. Kotz and Mrs. Berg of East Ridge High School tried something new and took on an intensive training process so they could help kids explore more deeply.
    4. Instilling. There aren’t many things we can thank teachers for more than for their efforts to instill a love of learning through hands-on experiences and a lot of heart. Kathy Lutes of New Life Academy and science teacher Mr. Carstensen of Lake Middle School and are great examples.
    5. Envisioning. Principal Scott Rowe (@ScottRowe158) from Huntley Community School District 158 in Illinois joined us at the iNACOL symposium to share how the traditional school district is leading in the shift to blended.
    6. Performing. Getting Smart Teacher Blogger John Hardison (@JohnHardison1) creates powerful learning with his interactive learning structures.
    7. Expanding. Students’ perceptions of themselves and the world can expand when teachers encourage it. Elementary Media Specialist Mrs Wickman of District 833 expands kids’ worlds each day by encouraging reading, coding and more!
    8. Inspiring. Superintendent Chace Anderson of the Wayzata School District (@wayzataschools) schools showed an ultimate example of “above and beyond” when he wrote a letter to a student in a different district congratulating him about a recent accomplishment AND encouraging him to consider education as a future career path — inspiring the next generation!
    9. Illuminating. Many secondary students across the country participate in AVID (@AVID4College), which illuminates for students what it means to study and pursue college and career readiness.
    10. Showing up. Great teachers show up before school, after school, at local events, and everywhere learning happens inside and outside the classroom. At the recent Seattle Mini Maker Faire Getting Smart Teacher Blogger Lindsey Own hosted her school’s booth.
    11. Coaching. Lindsey Own (@LindseyOwn) cultivates professional growth in a variety of ways, including by promoting design thinking through introducing design thinking for teacher leaders.
    12. Appreciating. Modeling appreciation and respect is a sign of a world class educator. Coach Fritze of East Ridge High School led a sacred moment when he told the East Ridge football parents how much he appreciated the opportunity to coach their kids. This moment followed an oh-so-close state championship game — there was not a dry eye in the room.
    13. Encouraging. Mr. Petersen, High School Math teacher turned assistant principal in Bethel School District (@BethelSD) always encourages students to be brave, ask questions, and explore possibilities.
    14. Serving. Service projects can be transformational for students and communities. YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School’s Ameen Akbar and Simran Sidhu, alongside the young leaders of YouthBuild Philly are leading service learning in Philadelphia.
    15. Expecting. When students know what’s expected, they tend to deliver. Mrs. Hestwood, Ms. Verschatse and Mr. Stocco from The Loft Stage (@TheLoftStage) expect a lot of their performing arts students – and they get a lot in return.
    16. Noticing. Karen Ketchum, elementary teacher in Marshalltown School District, noticed if students were silently struggling with something and took the time to pull them aside in private to provide extra instruction.
    17. Modeling. In the classroom, life changing teachers model life guiding. Pastor Boettcher, from Denver Lutheran High School modeled character on a daily basis.
    18. Adapting. A little flexibility goes a long way. High school math teacher Mr. Virgin from East Ridge High School makes adaptations for students to complete projects and tests (sometimes early!) in a way that helps them balance academics and extracurriculars.
    19. Innovating. At Enterprise Elementary in Federal Way Public Schools (@FWPS210) Mr. Paul Wezeman had a vision for a learner-centered technology enabled fifth grade classroom in 1994 that spurred a vision of learning innovations for the entire Vander Ark family. Since then we have been able to visit innovative schools around the country.
    20. Renewing. Schools, students and staff all go through periods of renewal. Mr. Smokrovich and the team of administrators at East Ridge High School have demonstrated leadership that are helping to renew a school that has been through a lot of transition.
    21. Accommodating. Not everyone learns the same. Administrators, counselors, and teachers across the country work to set up accommodations for learning challenges. Mrs. Ruka and counselor Mrs Huttmeier are an example.
    22. Believing. Sometimes what students need most is someone who believes in them. For students it helps when this is an educator who knows their struggles and their life experiences. Aled Anaya (@aledbread) Escondido Union High School District is an educator who believes.
    23. Opening. Doors to special events and opportunities to foster the power of the performing arts have been opened by choir teachers Mrs. Gullick and Mrs.Teoh Berbee of South Washington Schools.
    24. Building. Moss Pike is a teacher leader extraordinaire who is actively building stronger innovative-minded teachers and contributes to the growth of professionals across the country.
    25. Laughing. Great educators are reinforcers of positivity, and in many cases this means laughing in the face of struggles and times of strife. John Hardison and his music playlist ideas are a great example!

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