Posted tagged ‘Teachers’

Celebrate the teachers in your life

May 9, 2017

Did you know that in Hawaii public schools, there are over 10,941 teachers, 170 librarians, and 602 counselors? (Hawaii 2015 Superintendent’s Annual Report, 2014-2015 School Year)

Did you know that on average, teachers work more than 52 hours a week, including 30 hours of instruction and 22 hours on tasks like preparing lessons and grading papers? (National Center for Education Statistics 2011-12 School and Staffing Survey)

Teachers give us so much, and their job is much harder than we realize. They prepare lesson plans that engage and inspire students. They find a balance between correcting mistakes and encouraging excellence. They stay after school for homework clubs and mentoring. They show up at school events in the evenings and on weekends. They make the classroom a safe place to learn, challenge assumptions, and build character.

Today is National Teacher Day, part of a week-long event celebrating the teachers in our lives. You can say “Thank You” by joining the 2017 #ThankATeacher campaign and sharing stories and photos of special teachers.

My son is completing the fifth grade this year, and I want to take a moment to thank my fifth grade teacher, Ms. Foster. She was energetic and fun and it was the year I started to see teachers as real people, outside of school. She set up a classroom economy with jobs, a bank, and even checkbooks. She gave us daily writing assignments to practice our writing skills and encourage creative writing. To this day, I remember the first verses of “Do your ears hang low?” and “I Can’t Do That Sum” that we had to recite.

If you need some inspiration, the National PTA offers a free Teacher Toolkit to personally thank teachers for making a positive impact on your life and children’s lives.

If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews in school, here are 7 ways that How Can Families Effectively Partner With and Support Teachers, courtesy of the National Education Association:

  • Develop a relationship with your child’s teacher and keep in touch with him/her often
  • Ask the right questions
  • Set goals with your child and his/her teacher and foster the achievement of those goals
  • Review your child’s data to ensure he/she is on track
  • Look in your child’s backpack every day
  • Frequently view the parent portal (or whichever tool your child’s school uses)
  • Actively participate at school when possible

Which teachers had the biggest impact on your life? How will you thank a teacher today?


3 things to know about Hawaii’s schools

September 3, 2013

It’s been one month since my son started second grade at a public school. We are slowly getting used to the morning routine, the new classroom, the new achievement standards, and another year of fundraising.

Our school has given us a lot of useful information, like the school calendar, lunch menu, after-school programs, events, fundraisers, and contact information. They hosted an Open House and are already scheduling parent-teacher conferences.

But there are three critical things I think all parents should know about Hawaii’s schools:

1. Tell us about teachers. Which grade levels, subjects, and schools have they have taught? How have their students performed on standardized tests compared to other teachers? I understand that there might be a concern about teachers’ privacy, but parents usually check references before hiring a baby-sitter or nanny.

2. Tell us about school programs. Who are the teachers and aides responsible for extracurricular programs, additional classes, and elective classes? What are their qualifications? If it’s a third-party vendor, how were they selected and what are their hiring policies? How do current and former students rate their programs?

3. Tell us about school leadership. What are the backgrounds of the principal and vice principal? Who is the complex leader and what is their background? How would teachers rate their leadership and management?

In addition, there’s one critical area that I think needs improvement:

* Show us survey results with better questions. Satisfaction surveys are too vague. Instead of asking students if they are “satisfied” with their education, ask whether they feel interested and challenged by their schoolwork. Instead of asking teachers if they are “satisfied” with school leadership, ask whether school leadership is accessible and supportive. Instead of asking parents if they are “satisfied” with the quality of the school, ask if their children are eager to go to school, engaged in schoolwork, and have a good relationship with their teachers.

What information do you wish you had about schools? How much information about teachers and teacher evaluations is it reasonable to share with parents? Does your school anticipate what you want to know?

We love our teachers!

May 7, 2013

National Teacher Day 2013

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery,” said Mark Van Doren.

Today is National Teacher Day, and this week marks National Teacher Appreciation Week. Let’s all take time to honor our teachers and show them that they have made a difference in our lives.

For crafters and older children, I’d like to share some beautiful, fun, creative gifts to give to teachers. Tip Junkie has compiled two awesome lists: “24 Teacher Appreciation Gifts” and “32 Beautiful Teacher Appreciation Thank You Gifts” (some with free printables), on everything from a jar of appreciation and door decorations to candy lei and apple Rice Krispie treats.

For children of all ages and younger children especially, here are 7 simple, inexpensive ways that children can show their teachers how important they are, individually or as a class:

1. Write a heartfelt thank you note. Make it more meaningful by adding something specific the teacher has said or done to inspire your child, advises Karen Bantuveris on

2. Write an acrostic poem. Children can spell out their teacher’s name and write a poem about them.

3. Give a bouquet of flowers. Whether you made tissue paper flowers or pick real flowers from your garden, children can make their bouquet fun by adding a self-portrait. There’s a nice picture of a bouquet and wooden spoon people at

4. Make a box of love notes. Choose a small box and cute notepaper to fit the box. Children can decorate each paper with a short note or message, from every child in the class, suggests the CurlyBirds blog.

5. Create a feel-good flipbook. Give each student a blank card and ask them to decorate it with notes, artwork, or photos, suggests The cards can be bound together with book rings and presented on a stand, so teachers can keep it on their desk year-round.

6. Compile a classroom gratitude book. Buy an inexpensive autograph book, and ask students (and parents too) to write a note to their teacher, along with a picture or photo, suggests

7. Plant a tree. With support from parents and the school principal, plant a tree at the school in honor of the teachers. Students can watch it grow every year, recommends (there are 59 other suggestions in their free PDF “Teacher Appreciation Ideas eBook”).

Even if it’s been years since you’ve been in a classroom, it’s never too late to write a letter to our favorite teacher, telling them how much we admire them and how they changed our life.

What teachers have inspired you? If you’re a teacher, what is the best gift that you have received?

4 ways to celebrate your teacher

May 8, 2012

“I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework,” said Lily Tomlin as “Edith Ann.”

Today is National Teacher Day, when we can honor and show our appreciation for teachers.

Here are four fun and inexpensive ways to celebrate your favorite teacher:

1. Send a teacher a thank you card. Ask your child to draw or write a personal thank-you and give it to your teacher. Or surprise them with an ecard at the Teacher Thank-You Project ( or from websites like Blue Mountain (, Hallmark (, and Yahoo (

2. Give a teacher appreciation gift. The Tip Junkie blog offers a lot of inexpensive homemade gift ideas that look fabulous, from the fun (a crayon picture frame or a pencil vase) to the elegant (a fabric composition book cover) to the practical (a goodie box or survival kit).

3. Nominate a classroom superhero. Parents, students, and community members can nominate a superhero educator through the Classroom Superheroes project ( Your favorite teacher could be featured on the website, and other people can leave comments and post videos.

4. Create an online tribute. Make a video tribute to your favorite teacher and upload it to the “My Amazing Teacher” project on

A Chinese proverb says, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

How has a teacher made a difference in your life? How will you show your appreciation for your favorite teacher?