As we approach the holiday season, one that is often filled with gratitude, we’re excited for the opportunity to offer thanks to teachers. While the list could be endless, we curated it based on our own experiences teaching, learning or working alongside educators to recognize the many things they do 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 learning experiences.

Here are 20 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.

1. Personalizing. We can all agree that learners need to be met where they are. We’re so grateful for educators working hard to create personalized experiences for their students. The IDEA school in Dallas is getting this right with a true focus on personalized learning. Where not only are students met where they are, but they’re welcomed and made to feel at home. Thank you to all to the teachers out there creating safe spaces for learners to grow!

2. Encouraging. Maintaining a “can do” attitude and encouraging students to reach outside of their comfort zones, into their full potential is an essential element of teaching.

3. Appreciating. Mayerson Academy  (@MayersonAcademy) in Ohio encourages teachers to affirm and appreciate strengths in students and Jillian Darwish offers practical tips and tools to help teachers and students choose kindness.

4. Designing. The entire staff of One Stone (@OneStoneIdaho) 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.

5. 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 (@LakeMiddle) is a great example.

6. Performing. Getting Smart Teacher Blogger John Hardison (@JohnHardison1) creates powerful learning with his engaging learning structures.

Getting Smart Teacher Blogger John Hardison

7. Inspiring Contribution. We know that our focus in schools must shift to be inclusive of what students care about and what matters in their communities. Organizations, like these eight in New Orleans, are providing students the opportunity to contribute in meaningful ways.

8. Exploring. We believe in the power of place, and the importance of using your community to create real, authentic learning experiences for students. Teachers (and leaders) at the Eagle Rock School (@EagleRockScool) in Colorado have a great approach to community connected, project-based learning.

9. Illuminating. Many secondary students across the country participate in the AVID (@Avid4College) program, which illuminates for students what it means to prepare for life being their diploma through college and career readiness.

10. Building. A great maker space can be so powerful for learners. We even believe it can solve problems and foster empathy. One of our recent favorites is teacher Gerry Irrizary’s maker lab pictured below.

Gerry Irrizary’s Maker Lab

11. Empowering. The best educators empower students as well as their communities. At Lindsay Unified School District (@Lindsay_USD), they’re building and growing programs that empower community members to aid teachers. “Empower Lindsay” is the district’s initiative to ensure every learner has the best facilitator and leader of learning.

12. Serving. It’s undeniable that educators serve learners, their families, and communities every single day. They are the definition of servant leadership.

13. Showing up. We believe in the power of networks to transform education and create powerful personalized, project-based learning at scale.

14. Modeling. In the classroom and beyond, teachers serve as role models.

15. Innovating. We know this work isn’t easy. But we’re thankful for teachers who work hard to create and sustain innovative learning environments that support learners in obtaining real-world skills that help them prepare for the future.

16. 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.

17. 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!

18. 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.

19. Persisting. Teaching is one of the hardest jobs out there. We are continually grateful that so many outstanding teachers come back year after year to continue making an impact in their students’ lives.

20. Caring. One thing we know for sure is that great teachers care. From academics to social-emotional development, teachers strive to provide their students with the best opportunities, relationships, and experiences.

Whom would you like to thank? Feel free to add a teacher’s name and practice for which you are grateful for in the comment box below.

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