By: Janice Walton and Mary Ryerse

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:

  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 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. Take time during the next few days to let them know how they positively impact our world and #thankateacher.

Encouraging. Amber Chandler, one of our teacher bloggers not only spends her days encouraging middle school students to make, create and explore through projects, but spends her free time writing books to help fellow educators. Check out our reviews of her latest two books, The Flexible SEL Classroom and The Flexible ELA Classroom. Earlier this year, Amber was named the Association for Middle-Level Education (AMLE) 2018 Educator of the Year.

Exploring. Rachelle Dene Poth encourages learners to use augmented and virtual reality as one way to explore the world.

Conversing. Getting Smart teacher blogger Anna Durfee, describes how she has started having genuine, real, non-schooly conversations with her students. In this photo, Anna has created a physical Instagram wall to help drive conversations.

Personalizing. Fourth-grade teacher Stephanie Shaw describes how she personalizes learning with a plan of action.  It is not a surprise that she was Mooresville Intermediate School’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

Being Mindful. Dr. Margy Jones-Carey knows the importance of metacognition and helping students recognize the power of “not yet.” She also serves as a Getting Smart Teacher blogger.

Designing. The entire staff of One Stone (Boise, Idaho) for providing students with access and opportunity to “own” design thinking in their growth as learners, and individuals that will change the world through a solution mindset.

Creating. Teacher blogger Jamie Back uses 3D printing in her classroom to help foster self-directed learning experiences. These 3D shapes were created by Jamie’s students.

Expecting. Karen Balbier and Julia Rivas Lopez of the El Paso Independent School District offer their tips for raising expectations and maximizing learning in a digital environment via this Hangout recording.

Envisioning. Principal Scott Rowe 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 school’s students need for the future.

Appreciating.  Mayerson Academy in Ohio encourages teachers to affirm and appreciate strengths in students and Lynn Owens and Jillian Darwish offer practical tips and tools to help teachers and students choose kindness.

Performing. Getting Smart Teacher Blogger John Hardison creates powerful learning with his interactive learning structures.

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.

Persisting. There is a lot of emphasis on helping students practice a growth mindset and to persist through challenges. In one of our all-time most popular podcasts, Dr. Dan Siegel (@DrDanSiegel) talks about how the act of serving others (what teacher doesn’t do that?) builds persistence.

Building. Lindsey Own cultivates a “maker mindset,”  in a variety of ways, including by promoting design thinking through introducing design thinking for teacher leaders. She loves maker spaces.

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!

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.

Noticing. Karen Ketchum, an 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.

Showing up. We believe in the power of networks to transform education and create powerful personalized, project-based learning at scale. This year the power of networks went beyond learning and showed up when a New Tech Network school in Idaho stepped up and served their fellow school in California when wildfires ripped through much of their community.

Modeling. In the classroom and beyond, teachers serve as role models. People like physical education teacher and coach Randy Spring of Liberty Ridge Elementary make a lifelong impact.

Adapting. A little flexibility goes a long way. Michael Klein of Highlander Institute coaches others on how to inspire and makes adaptations for students to complete projects and tests.

Innovating. Andrew Larson, a Getting Smart teacher blogger created a school garden at his Columbus school to encourage place-based learning experiences across the curriculum.

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 Escondido Union High School District is an educator who believes.

Opening. Doors to special events and opportunities to foster the power of the performing arts have been opened by choir teachers like Mrs. Gullick of South Washington Schools.

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!

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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Janice is a Manager at Getting Smart. She advocates for and advises learning organizations focused on innovations in teaching and learning, and is known for her work in teacher leadership, global education, and STEM. You can connect with Janice on Twitter @JaniceWard09
Mary is a Director at Getting Smart, where she leads the team’s strategic advisory practice. She helps learning organizations grow and extend impact. She is known for her work in strategy and design; personalized and competency-based learning; readiness; and SEL. You can connect with Mary on Twitter @maryryerse.

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