The poet and educator Taylor Mali once delivered a poem that’s become incredibly popular in education circles. The poem, What Teachers Make, follows a teacher who is asked by a condescending dinner guest, “what do you make?” In response, the teacher says that they make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. That they can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor, and make parents beam with pride at their children’s actions. They are a teacher, which means they make a difference.

As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, it’s fitting that we take a moment and reflect on the truth of Mali’s words. Teachers are among the first architects to shape a student’s curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. Many of us still remember those amazing teachers who helped us grow into the adults we are today. They are the ones who encouraged us to give reading a chance and introduced us to our favorite book. They’re the people who showed us that the things that made us weird were actually the things that make us unique, and they are the ones who frequently went above and beyond to help us thrive.

So, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Van Andel Institute for Education would like to send a few important messages to teachers everywhere:

Thank You!

First, we’d just like to say Thank You. Thank you for all the amazing work that you do. Thank you for building classrooms where students of all backgrounds can be welcomed, encouraged, and inspired. Thank you for persevering through countless obstacles to give your students the education they deserve and thank you for being a part of this vital learning community. Teacher Appreciation Week may only come once per year, but we hope you feel valued and appreciated every single day of the year.

You’re Awesome!

We want you to know that the incredible things you do haven’t gone unnoticed, and we want to celebrate educators for being so awesome. Each month, VAI recognizes teachers who are doing amazing things, both within their classrooms and without, through Caught Being Awesome. Students, parents, and coworkers can nominate teachers through the VAI’s Caught Being Awesome form, which will enter them into a monthly raffle. If selected, we’ll gift them one FREE project-based learning unit of their choice valued at $125. There are no strings attached to this gift – seriously! We just want to thank teachers for doing what they do and believing in their students.

We’re Here for You!

Finally, we know that teachers are facing unprecedented challenges in today’s classrooms. VAI wants to help do some of the heavy lifting so teachers can focus on what they do best – teaching. If you’re an educator in need of assistance, VAI has a large collection of free resources that we hope you’ll take advantage of. Explore free inquiry-based lessons for students, learn about the latest teaching tools through interactive webinars, and much, much more!

Once again, from all of us at Van Andel Institute for Education, thank you for everything that you do and Happy teacher Appreciation Week!

For more free educational resources simply follow this link.