Tag Archives: Teacher Appreciation


Appreciating Teachers in Under-Privileged Schools

This post is written by member Sharonica Nelson. 

Teaching is a job that comes with very little thanks and accolades. In fact, teachers are some of the most overlooked and under-appreciated professionals. Teaching does not come with hefty compensation, nor does it come with many pats on the back. Truthfully, it is not for the faint at heart, and those who choose to teach are special people with special gifts. Therefore, national teacher appreciation week is fitting. Teachers deserve a time set aside just for them to be acknowledged and appreciated because of the hard work they do in classrooms daily. All teachers deserve this, but especially those who teach in under-privileged schools.

Teaching in less-affluent schools has its own set of challenges, issues, and concerns. Although all teachers are subject to changes in the form of new curriculum due to new pedagogical techniques, many times these changes do not reflect the impact on disadvantaged students.  These new initiatives stem from policy changes and legislative actions imposed by those who have no teaching experience. Often, students and teachers in under-privileged schools are the first to feel the brunt of educational disruptions and changes and the last to recover, particularly from new leaders who are eager to “turn the school around” and a high yearly turnover of new co-workers.

Many teachers in less-affluent schools have class sizes that are far larger than the average. Within these classes are double the number of students with behavioral inconsistencies, learning deficiencies, and students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Yet, these teachers keep on teaching and making magic in the classroom by raising test scores, building relationships, and encouraging students to rise above their circumstances.

Just as they keep on teaching and making magic, teachers in under-privileged schools are also some of the most forgotten during teacher appreciation week. Many of their students do not have the financial resources to appreciate their teachers through gift giving and may not set aside time to make a gift or say a kind word. There are years when the administrative staff “forgot” to plan a gesture of appreciation for these teachers. Therefore, teachers must appreciate themselves:

  1. Be proud. Teachers must realize that they are not alone in the trenches and that together all teachers are making a difference. Continue meeting students at their point of need, and know that even if no one else recognizes it, you are making a difference in the lives of students that need it the most. Also, realize that you are doing a job that many would not think twice about doing, and with that comes honor.
  2. Show self-appreciation. If you do not appreciate yourself, who will? All teachers are valuable, needed, and special. The trip that you have put off, plan it. Have not been to dinner or lunch in a while? Plan it. If it is time for a haircut and/or color, make it extra special this time. The students will notice and will give compliments to no end. Massages are great. Find those discount websites that promote deals on massages and go have a day of relaxation.
  3. Show appreciation for a fellow teacher. No one knows the dynamics of teaching in an under-privileged setting like a fellow teacher. Giving to others brings the giver great joy. Therefore, show appreciation by giving to others who share a similar situation. It could be something as simple as lunch, flowers, a gift card, or even a hand-written note. The possibilities are endless, but the receiver will be surprised and thankful.

Teachers of students in less-affluent schools deserve to be acknowledged, patted on the back, and thanked several times over for the work done daily. These teachers show and prove every day that they are the epitome of special people with special gifts, and that they are not faint at heart. For these reasons, teachers in disadvantaged schools cannot be forgotten and should be shown much appreciation!

Dr. S. Nelson is a mommy, wife, and 7th grade Language Arts teacher in an urban middle school in Alabama. She works heavily with Red Mountain Writing Project at UAB in different aspects, and is the founder of College, Career & Beyond, a nonprofit whose mission is to educate all on the importance of education. She is also an author, presenter, and teacher consultant.


Teacher Appreciation Week

thank-a-teacherSince 1984, National PTA has designated one week in May as a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating our children. This is a week for everyone to show teachers just how much they are appreciated!

Here is an activity to do with students that celebrates teachers:

Read a book about a teacher such as Thank You, Mr. Falker, Miss Nelson is Missing, The Miracle Worker, Tuesdays with Morrie, or A Lesson Before Dying. Why are the teachers in these stories special? Have a class discussion about some of your students’ favorite teachers. Then have students try these follow-up activities:

  • Compare a favorite teacher to a teacher from a book with a Venn Diagram.
  • Write a letter to a favorite teacher using the Letter Generator.
  • Create a character map of a storybook teacher with the Story Mapping tool.
  • Use the Word Mover to create a piece that describes the teacher or school.

To round out Teacher Appreciation Week, watch a movie that inspires you and makes you feel proud to be in the field of education where YOU really do have an impact. Enjoy!

What Great Teaching Looks Like

This post is written by author, Martha Brockenbrough

MarthaBrockenbroughI don’t envy teachers these days. You know what you’re up against—I don’t need to tell you.

But what I can tell you, as a writer, a parent, and a former teacher, is this: The things that drew you to the profession are still the truth about why teaching matters. You are a teacher because you love and value children and because you believe that caring about them is the best way to help shepherd them into a hard-edged world.

Given the importance of this quest, the long shadow cast by standardized tests is more than ridiculous. It’s an outrage. No child is motivated—except in the most transient, soul-damaging ways—by standardized tests.

So what does work with children, especially when it comes to reading and writing? That thing you already know how to do. That thing that drew you to the classroom in the first place. That thing that means you will never forget the best teachers you ever had.

It’s love.

And this is what it looks like.

It looks like Mrs. Cleveland, my third-grade teacher, who knew I needed something to get through the math that scared me. She planted a branch in the corner of the classroom and called it a tree, and she hung strips of paper on its twigs, each of which contained a word. When I was done with my math, she let me pick a word and use it to start a story. And she read every one of those stories and told me I was a writer.

It looks like Ms. Adams, who understood why I never had money for books from the Scholastic catalog, and sometimes bought books for me with her own money.

It looks like Mr. King, who had us write down the titles of the books we read, who never questioned our choices, who simply encouraged us for reading.

It looks like Mr. Bayley, who read to us for 10 minutes every day even though we were old enough to read to ourselves.

It looks like Tom and Mike, who weren’t even officially teachers—but who were coaches who knew I wrote stories and volunteered to read them, even though they weren’t any good.

Love also looks like teachers I observe today, including Mr. Hankins and TJ Shay, making sure students are reading strong, contemporary books that help them feel what it means to be a human being. And it looks like librarians Andria Amaral and Shauna Yusko, who literally keep their students fed, because no one can learn on an empty stomach.
This is more important than using reading as proof of achievement or intellectual prowess. Books are a safe space for us to practice being people, for us to understand the complexity of our own thoughts and feelings and the reality of the complexity of others in our lives.

Great teachers keep that safe space intact and honor it. Great teachers know that the act of protecting the curiosity and individuality of our students is powerful fuel. Kids who are secure and loved as learners have everything they need to perform at their highest levels on standardized tests.

They don’t need to be taught to perform to them. They simply need to be shown that unfolding themselves as they are—with courage and hunger and resilience, with self-respect and respect for others—is everything they need to succeed in this world.

How does love look in your classroom or library? Like games? Letters to future selves? Stories? Snacks? I’d love to know.

Meanwhile, thank you for what you do. I am a writer today because of the teachers who loved me. There is a test that measures that: life itself. I owe my happy and productive one in no small part to them, and to people like you.

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of The Game of Love and Death, a Kirkus Prize finalist, winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award, and Publishers Weekly Top 10 book for teens in 2015. She has written several books for young readers and has worked as a teacher, journalist and editor. The founder of National Grammar Day, she’s written game questions for Cranium and Trivial Pursuit. She’s spoken twice at NCTE and looks forward to spending more time with an inspiring group of teachers.



Thank You, Kate

This post is written by NCTE member, Paul LaPrade.

PaulLapradeI met Dr. Kate Mangelsdorf when I was hired as an undergraduate writing tutor at the University of Texas at El Paso’s Writing Center, which she directed at the time. As a junior making sense of the university and my new place within it, I felt her title and corner office conveyed an aura of authority not unlike that of the Iron Throne of Westeros. Yet I would soon find out how approachable and engaging Kate is, and before long I had the opportunity to witness her talent and dedication as a teacher and to work with her on my Masters practicum.

Seven years after meeting her, I’m working as a lecturer in the English Department, my office just a couple of doors down from Kate’s. In reflecting on one of this month’s themes, it is remarkable the impact a serendipitous encounter with an inspirational educator has had in making me a teacher.

Dr. Mangelsdorf
Dr. Kate Mangelsdorf

Throughout her career, Dr. Mangelsdorf has developed a reputation as an eloquent advocate for honoring and exploring students’ lived multilingual experiences. By pointing to the tension between idealized monolingual standards and the diverse linguistic negotiations students engage in despite them, she has argued compellingly for a 21st-century approach to students and their languages. I have also seen her give voice to students’ complex linguistic needs and skills on a smaller scale, in my first-year composition classes, where her work (particularly an article on Spanglish) has spurred lively discussion and debate, even finding its way into students’ papers as they examine the unique yet increasingly prescient linguistic context they inhabit on the U.S.-Mexico border.

As Dr. Mangelsdorf steps away from directing two of our department’s programs—Rhetoric and Writing Studies and English Education—I realize how much her influence in my life mirrors the imprint she has left on an entire department, one she will fortunately continue to be very much a part of.

The Chair of that department, Dr. Maggy Smith, recently reflected that “Kate is an insightful and inspirational leader for two of the department’s programs. She is a mentor to countless students and faculty members both in the department and across campus, and a good friend to all.”

It is with this in mind, and on behalf of many others, that I would like to add Dr. Mangelsdorf to this month’s catalog of inspirational teachers, and to say thank you por sus esfuerzos para reconocer el multilingüismo de nuestros estudiantes y como resultado, la posibilidad de expresar mi gratitud en español en este espacio y en el salón de clases. Gracias, Dra. Mangelsdorf, muchas gracias.

Paul LaPrade is a lecturer in the Rhetoric and Writing Studies Undergraduate Program at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Mrs. Newman: Reader and Writer

This blog post is written by NCTE member Evelyn Begody. 

PrintMrs. Newman, my tenth-grade English teacher, wore her long straight hair loose. Straight out of the 1960s, she wore shapeless flowery dresses with flip flops and large, thick red-framed glasses. She also had the best deep, phlegm-thickened laugh, probably from smoking.

She listened to classical music on a small transistor radio that she positioned carefully for the best reception. After I returned to class from a suspension for fighting, I stood awkwardly next to her desk, waiting for a lecture, but instead she showed me a handwritten letter from John Steinbeck. She held it by just the edge of the paper as if it were ancient papyrus.

Sometime later that year, we visited a bookstore where she bought me two Steinbeck novels and On Aggression by Konrad Lorenz. Clearly she wanted me to understand myself. That was her version of lecturing: “Read about and understand it.”

Evelyn Begody, on her 22nd year of  teaching high school English on the Navajo Nation, devotes lots to reading and writing. She loves hiking, Greek salads, her four children, her husband, and reading—but not in that order, of course.