25 Reasons to Give Thanks for Teachers

As we approach the holiday season, it is a great opportunity to give thanks to the many things teachers 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:

Team Getting Smart is extremely grateful for educators around the world–especially for those that promote student-centered environments.
Here are 25 teacher behaviors that we are grateful for, and that might jog your memory of personal stories about a teacher in your life.
1. Personalizing. Fourth-grade teacher Stephanie Shaw (@stephshaw413) describes how she personalizes learning with a plan of action.  She also happens to be Mooresville Intermediate School’s Teacher of the Year. XQ Super School winner Brooklyn Lab School (@BklynLabSchool) founders Erin Mote (@ErinMote) and Erick Tucker are committed to an culture where teachers are empowered to design and manage personalized environments.
2. 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.
3. AppreciatingMayerson Academy in Ohio encourages teachers to affirm and appreciate strengths in students and Jillian Darwish (@JillianDarwish) offers practical tips and tools to help teachers and students choose kindness.
4. Designing. Lindsey Own (@LindseyOwn) cultivates professional growth in a variety of ways, including by promoting design thinking through introducing design thinking for teacher leaders.                5. Expecting. Karen Balbier and Julia Rivas Lopez (@JuliaRivasLopez) of the El Paso Independent School District offer their tips for raising expectations and maximizing learning in a digital environment via this Hangout recording.
6. 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. Science teacher Mr. Logan Carstensen of Lake Middle School is a great example.
7. Envisioning. Principal Scott Rowe (@ScottRowe158) from Huntley Community School District 158 in Illinois creates a vision for transforming what might be called by some as a “traditional school environment” into the schools students need for the future.
8. Performing. Getting Smart Teacher Blogger John Hardison (@JohnHardison1) creates powerful learning with his interactive learning structures.
9. Iterating. Thought processes are complex. Jessica Goldstein of Denver School for Innovation and Sustainable Design (@dsisd_dps) is constantly experimenting with her students and encouraging them to do the same. Listen to a Hangout with Jessica’s tips for iterating learning in a digital environment.

10. Persisting. There is a lot of emphasis on helping students practice a growth mindset and to persist through challenges. In a recent podcast, Dr. Dan Siegel (@DrDanSiegel) talks about how the act of serving others (and what teacher doesn’t do that?) builds persistence.
11. Exploring. When teachers explore new things, they open doors for students. Project Lead The Way (@PLTWorg) teachers like Mrs. Kotz and Mr. Ware of East Ridge High School tried something new and took on an intensive training process so they could help kids explore more deeply.
12. 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!
13. 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. Coach Bret Brookins illuminates the good work students have done by highlighting effort, attitude, and sportsmanship.
14. Building. Moss Pike (@mosspike) is a teacher leader extraordinaire who is actively building stronger innovative-minded teachers and contributes to the growth of professionals across the country.
15. Empowering. When teachers design project-based learning processes that allow students to take off with their ideas through Project-Based Learninglike New Life Academy’s (@nlaMN) Kathy Lutes did–they can change the world!
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. Modeling. In the classroom, life-changing teachers model life-guiding. Teachers and coaches Dan Fritze, Randy Spring (@MrSpringPE) and Bret Brookins consistently model exemplar character and positive behavior for their students.
20. Adapting. A little flexibility goes a long way. Michael Klein (@michaelfklein) of Highlander Institute coaches others on how to inspire and makes adaptations for students to complete projects and tests.
21. 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.
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 and theatre teachers like Mrs. Gullick, Mrs. Hestwood, and Mrs. Sager of South Washington Schools.
24. 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!
25. Learning. While the phrase “lifelong learners” can be overused, we thank ALL the teachers who are willing to learn something new (and who are open to learning from their students) in order to prepare students for a future different from our own.
Whom would you like to thank? Feel free to add a teacher name and behavior for which you are grateful for in the comment box below.
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