From Tricia Baldes
Handwritten notes. Fresh baked cookies. Flowers. Poetry. Doodles and drawings. These are some of the many ways I’ve seen teachers show appreciation for colleagues.
My favorite way of showing appreciation to my teacher squad is with music. About eight years ago, I started creating music mixes for teacher friends to kick off the school year, gifting these CDs on opening day. This has become a tradition, and looking through my iTunes playlists, I have a history of these yearly compilations. Most of the music is upbeat and motivational, though each list also includes other favorite songs of mine at that moment of time.
Music is a timeless gift, and it is inexpensive—or free—if you create a Spotify playlist. To show my appreciation to all of our kindred spirits, I’ve done just that! Here’s a link to the Kindred Spirits Teacher Appreciation Mix, compiled from the greatest hits of the last eight years of playlists I created for friends. I hope you enjoy it — Kindred Spirits Teacher Appreciation Mix
Inspired by the fun I had making this playlist, I made another—this one to show my appreciation to my Kindred Spirits co-author, Jess, who is transitioning into a new chapter of her life, Ieaving the classroom to be the full-time director of Rock Your World. While crafting this playlist, I thought about the joy that is Jess, this exciting time in her life as well as her passion for human rights education, and I pictured her listening to it while working away overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the Dan Eldon Center for Creative Activism in Malibu, Calif.
This one is for Jess. I can’t wait to have my toes in sand next to my kindred spirit again! Kindred Spirits Teacher Appreciation Mix - For Jess
Teacher-to-teacher appreciation is important, and need not be limited to Teacher Appreciation Month or the start of a new school year. Sometimes, there might be a specific reason to show appreciation. Just last week, my eighth-grade ELA teacher friends and I gathered to pen thank-you notes with a meaningful treat to express our gratitude for colleagues’ support at a recent event.
From Jessica Burnquist
Aww, I’m a puddle of appreciation for being appreciated by you, Tricia! What a touching reminder of how important it is to be seen and understood by our colleagues, near and far. Teacher Appreciation Week is so meaningful to me this year for all the reasons Tricia has noted and also because I’m finishing up my teaching career in Arizona. If you have been tuned into the national news, you will know that teachers in my state just completed a six-day walkout/strike to demand better funding for our students, support staff, facilities and teacher pay. While our governor lauds the passing of the “20 percent” increase, when one truly investigates the details of this bill, it is evident that of the five initiatives teachers in the Red for Ed (#RedforEd) movement proposed, none were passed.
While many of my colleagues and I are frustrated with the results, we are also deeply grateful to be mobilized and focused on the upcoming midterm elections. This brings me to my point: To show self-appreciation and appreciation for one another and our profession, it is imperative that we vote. One of my favorite side effects of our recent grass-roots efforts has been modeling for our students the importance of civic engagement. How can we truly teach civic engagement and elements of democracy if we ourselves are not truly engaged?
As my playlist from my kindred spirit Tricia continues to play on, I am compelled to touch on how important it is to find one’s people. In this age of technology, we are not limited to our school sites for support. If we have access to the internet, then we have endless ways to engage and collaborate with one another from afar. This can be overwhelming, I know. So, I suggest exploring Share My Lesson and participating in some of their incredible free webinars and edchats. There are wonderful blogs happening here too, of course.
My next recommendation is a relatively new discovery of mine—made through our wonderful contact, Jenn Williams, who wrote about her site TeachSDGs for Kindred Spirits. She is also now the Ed.D. director of @participate. What an incredible site! From edchats to community/content portals to accredited/badged professional development, it is worth your time to create sustainable teacher networks here.
While I am indeed preparing to leave the classroom, I know that my connections and appreciation for the teachers as well for the act of teaching will never leave me. It has been an incredible 17-year ride rich with learning, growth and the best young people on the planet. Truthfully, it has been my kindred spirits—these like-minded lovers of education—who have fueled my journey and provided me the best soundtrack for exciting next steps. Thank you!
CALL TO ACTION & APPRECIATION
We are interested to hear other ideas you might have about teacher appreciation, so please share in our blog comments section and try the following:
? Invite others to write a note of teacher appreciation. These can come from teachers in our past, teacher colleagues, former or current students. Be sure to tweet your write-ups of appreciation to Kindred Spirits @kindredexchange and @sharemylesson using the following hashtags: #teachersquad, #thanksteach.
? Share your pictures of self-appreciation: Did you order a new book? Join an awesome network of teachers? Get a massage or delish cup of coffee? Take a pic and share on instagram! Be sure to @kindredspiritsexchange and use the hashtags: #worthit and #appleforme.
Tricia Baldes earned a master’s in English from Lehman College and has been a middle level educator since 2001. Her passion for human rights education has led to her writing curriculum and consulting with nonprofit organizations like Creative Visions, Speak Truth to Power and KidsRights. She co-authored the Rock Your World curriculum and currently works with the team as a program coordinator. In addition to presenting at national conferences for NCTE and ACSD, Baldes has led various teacher trainings and programs for students. She teaches eighth-grade English in Westchester County, N.Y.
Jess Burnquist earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Time.com, NPR.org, and various online and print journals. She is a recipient of the Joan Frazier Memorial Award for the Arts at ASU and has been honored with a Sylvan Silver Apple Award. She teaches high school English, creative writing and AP Literature in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area and is the Director of Rock Your World. Her poetry chapbook You May Feel Your Way Past Me was published in 2017 Dancing Girl Press.
Kindred Spirits offers an opportunity for educators and school staff to gather in the exchange of ideas, resources, stories and lessons pertaining to human rights education and students’ social and emotional growth. Please join us and contribute your voice to a chorus of kindred spirits.