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Teacher Voice

Teacher Appreciation: When One Week Isn’t Enough

This post was written jointly by Evan Stone and Sydney Morris, the founders of Educators 4 Excellence. An earlier version of this post appeared on the Educators 4 Excellence website.
The beginning of May marks Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to celebrate the inspiring role teachers play in students’ lives. But it is during this time of year when we always ask ourselves: “Is a week really enough to truly appreciate teachers?” As former educators, we know that teaching is rewarding in many small ways every day. Appreciation comes in the form of “light-bulb” moments when a once complicated task suddenly becomes common knowledge for a struggling student. Appreciation comes when a parent tells you his or her child looks forward to coming to school because of you. And it comes when your principal spends time in your classroom out of a sincere interest in better understanding and supporting your practice. That same appreciation is hard to find when you look outside the classroom. Too often, policy decisions that impact students and the teaching profession are made without the very people who inspire student achievement and lead school improvement—our nation’s teachers. Educators 4 Excellence recognizes that truly appreciating teachers means putting them at the forefront of conversations about educational change. For nearly five years now, E4E has been working to change the top-down approach to policymaking so that teachers can become the driving force in policy decision-making. Our community of like-minded teachers has grown quickly, and now includes over 16,000 members—in Chicago and Los Angeles, and across Minnesota, Connecticut and New York state—who are leading community-based advocacy efforts, in support of the changes their students and schools need to succeed. From testifying in front of lawmakers, to holding press conferences, to serving as leaders within their unions and schools, teachers are taking ownership of their profession and pursuing solutions-driven change. We are humbled by their passion, inspired by their voices, and we are their partners in a collective effort to elevate the teaching profession on behalf of students, families and communities who need, and deserve, a quality public education. This month, in recognition and gratitude for the growing impact E4E teachers are having as leaders inside and outside their classrooms, the E4E News Blog will feature profiles of some of our teacher members in a series entitled “In My Professional Opinion.” We invite you to read and share their inspiring words. In reality, we all know that no single week will ever be enough to show teachers the appreciation they deserve for what they accomplish. And while kind words are rewarding, it is the actions taken to empower teachers that will lead to true appreciation.
Evan Stone is co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Educators for Excellence. Previously, Evan taught sixth grade in the Bronx, New York, while earning his master's degree in teaching from Pace University. While teaching, Evan helped co-found E4E with colleague, Sydney Morris.

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