Leading Advocates Share Their Advice
Signs of Teacher Appreciation Week can be found in teacher lounges across the country as well as peppered throughout your social media feed. While timely public and virtual gestures are important, often the most enduring actions to honor and support educators happen quietly in a conference room at a district office, at an evening teacher action team meeting, and in a teacher’s visit to her state legislator’s office. In this post, advocates leading work on strengthening educator policy and amplifying educator voice share how their peers and policymakers can take action to appreciate and partner with educators throughout their careers.
Appreciating teachers means giving them the resources and supports they need.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education and CEO of The Education Trust, John B. King Jr., urges policymakers to rethink decisions that could significantly hamper teachers: “For low-income students and students of color, teachers make a huge difference in opportunities and outcomes. Sometimes, they make all the difference. Yet, the Trump administration has proposed eliminating funding for Title II, the federal program that supports quality teaching and teachers’ professional development. To appreciate teachers, advocates should call on Congress to reject this harmful proposal. Appreciating teachers means giving them the resources and supports they need to help all of their students reach high expectations, not pulling the rug out from under them.”
The best way for policymakers to appreciate teachers is to include them in decisions.
Evan Stone, co-founder of Educators for Excellence, encourages policymakers to listen to the people closest to learning every day: “While research shows that classroom teachers are the single most important in-school factor in improving student achievement, their diverse voices are consistently left out of education policy decisions. The best way for policymakers to appreciate teachers is to include them in the decisions that affect their students and their profession.”
We need to make it easier to hear and learn what our educators need.
Sue Hildick, president of the Chalkboard Project in Oregon, emphasizes the power of teacher voice in creating pathways for educators to grow: “Teachers should have a voice in their professional development because teaching excellence takes years of practice and preparation. We need to make it easier to hear and learn what our educators need to evolve their instructional practices. Policymakers should make sure teachers are at the right tables where policy decisions in education are being made—especially those impacting the profession.”
Student teaching should not be a spin of the roulette wheel.
President of the National Council on Teacher Quality Kate Walsh emphasizes the urgency to strengthen teacher training from the moment an educator steps into a classroom: “We can signal our deep respect for the teaching profession by all of us working to make teachers’ first significant experience in the classroom—student teaching—a first rate example of how a profession learns, develops, and cares for its own. Student teaching should not be a spin of the roulette wheel but can be the catalyst for transforming everything that follows.”
Teachers are preparing more students for more complex jobs than ever before.
Brenda Berg, president and CEO of Business for Educational Success and Transformation in North Carolina (BEST NC), applauds teachers for preparing students for a future yet to be defined: “When teachers say their work is harder than it used to be, they are right! Teachers are preparing more students for more complex jobs than ever before; jobs that require a post-secondary education. And yet, while the demands on the profession have risen, respect for the profession has declined. As advocates and policymakers, we should remember that effective teachers are highly-skilled professionals who not only deserve support, but autonomy as well. Micromanaging is not how we would manage our own organizations—and it is not an effective way to elevate education.”
Great teachers are proudest of the appreciation their students have for them.
Dan Weisberg, CEO of TNTP, reminds us to go straight to the source: “If policymakers and advocates ask students about their teachers, they will gain enormous insight into all the powerful ways teachers help their students to succeed. Great teachers are proudest of the appreciation their students have for them—let’s ask students about their experiences with teachers and lift up their voices through regular surveys, focus groups and interviews!”
To learn how these and other advocates are celebrating educators this week, check out some of their work here: