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Phone Calls and Accolades: Teacher Appreciation Week in Review

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As Teacher Appreciation Week wraps up, here's a sampling of ways people around the country have been giving thanks to teachers.

On a national level, staff members at the U.S. Department of Education personally called 380 teachers across the nation to say thank you--and to ask how the department was doing, as they apparently decided it was best not to waste the opportunity. That's not a very large number compared to the millions of teachers who weren't called, but it's the thought that counts.

Teachers were also recognized on two different daytime TV shows, as Mark Walsh reports (even if Rachael Ray did serve chicken nuggets to Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples).

Teachers in South Carolina got a big surprise when Palmetto State native Stephen Colbert set up funding for all of their DonorsChoose projects, a gift that totaled about $800,000.

For tech-savvy teachers, Google celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week--and the one-year anniversary of its Google Classroom tool--by announcing new features for the program, including the ability to grade and create assignments from mobile devices.

Here on Teacher, blogger Jennie Magiera has been recognizing teachers in a more personal way by running a series of posts celebrating "teachers who inspired teachers." Each piece is written by a guest blogger who shares the story of the educator who made him or her realize what it means to be a great teacher. In her own piece, Magiera wrote about her 4th grade teacher Ms. Buckman:

Ms. Buckman was the first teacher who taught me to approach learning as an adventure. She encouraged all of us to wonder. Every day I arrived in school, I knew I would be stimulated, challenged, and encounter the unexpected. As a 9-year-old this is an amazing feeling. Ms. Buckman had a way of making each lesson feel special and meaningful to all of her students. She helped us experience our learning. ... To learn about the Everglades, we went on a mud walk at a swampland nearby our school and collected plant specimens. I remember lying in the sun when we came back, trying to dry off from the wet mud and cold springs that we had to swim through and thinking, 'Wow, I love school.'

Meanwhile, on Huffington Post, high school English teacher Jennifer Wolfe wrote a thoughtful piece on what teachers really want for teacher appreciation week. In the current climate, she said, teachers mostly want to know that their work is seen as making a difference.

Above all, for Teacher Appreciation Week, I'd love to know that I'm appreciated. For some reason, teachers seem to be taking a huge hit in the media over the last few years. Most of the teachers I know didn't start teaching because they wanted to make life harder for their students and their families. They didn't start teaching because they felt it was their responsibility to become substitute parents, or to give failing grades or to do anything except make a difference in the life of a child. Teachers are service-oriented professionals who, for the most part, want to earn enough money to support their family, live in their community, send their own children to college and at the end of the day, know that their tired brains and stacks of papers to grade are worth it because they matter in the life of a child.

Let's hope many teachers got the gift of that kind of acknowledgment this week.

Image: Cutie Pie Company/Flickr Creative Commons

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