Teaching Traveling: Want to learn ingenious ways to sustain teachers around the world? Let’s chat with the founder of the “Thank You, Teachers” project, Megan Scribner. Megan, tell us about your background.
Megan: Hello! I’m originally from Walla Walla, Washington but have lived in Takoma Park, Maryland, for the past 20 years. I got the travel bug from my parents who spent their first year of marriage traveling in Europe. I’ve always found travel to be life-expanding and have enjoyed traveling as a family and passing on the travel bug to our daughters.
TT: Lovely! What do you do in the world?
M: I’m a freelance editor, and a key focus of my work is supporting and celebrating teachers. I co-edited, with Sam Intrator, three poetry anthologies: Teaching with Heart, Leading from Within and Teaching with Fire. [Note: These are affiliate links that provide a small commission upon purchase at no extra cost to you.]
In these books, we asked teachers and leaders to reflect on a poem that had meaning for them and to speak about who they are, why they do what they do, and how they keep their heart and commitment alive in their work.
In their reflections, the teachers shared their setbacks and successes, their fears as well as their dreams and aspirations. It was a privilege to be entrusted with their stories and bring them to life in the books.
So many of the teachers told us how much they enjoyed this experience that I decided to extend the experience to others. I launched the Teaching with Heart, Fire and Poetry website to provide a space where teachers can share their reflections on teaching and the teacher’s life.
It’s been a lot of fun to “meet” and work with teachers through the blog. Teachers are invited to send in blog posts and/or fill out a Teachers Talk interview – the questions are thought provoking, lively and fun!
TT: That’s great! Now, I hear you also have a new project?
M: Yes, thanks for asking! I believe that teachers have one of the most important – and challenging – jobs in our country. Their work is vital to children, parents, communities, and our future. Yet rarely do they receive the thanks they deserve.
Not only that, but teachers often face criticism and hostility – particularly online. I decided I wanted to do something to disrupt the negative, to change the tone about how we talk about teachers, and create something positive in the world.
So I came up with the idea of creating the Thank You, Teacher’s Project to create a wave of gratitude for teachers, one thank you letter at a time.
TT: I’m intrigued! How does it work?
M: We invite you – parents, children, fellow teachers, principals, and PTAs – to write a thank you letter to a special teacher in your life. We then post the letters on our Gallery wall and on Pinterest and notify the teachers and their principals or supervisors when the letter is up on the website. There is no charge for this service – it’s our gift to the teachers.
You can also arrange for gift-book packages to be sent to your teacher. These packages include your thank you letter (copies for the teacher and principal) and an autographed copy of Teaching with Heart, a book written by teachers for teachers.
The cost for this gift packages is $30 which covers the cost of the book, shipping and handling – and helps to support this effort and the website.
We’ve received wonderful, heartfelt thank you letters from some of the teachers. One teacher wrote: “A project like this means so much to inspire, motivate, and elevate the work of teachers.” Another teacher reached out to her letter writer to arrange to meet for tea!
TT: Wow! Can we thank any teacher?
M: Yes. While our main focus is on teachers in the schools, you can choose any educator you’d like to thank – from the present or the past. So far, we’ve had people thank their classroom teachers, principals and yoga teachers.
I joined in the effort and sent a book and thank you letter to Ms. Coates, my daughter’s 1st grade teacher – even though that was over 15 years ago! A friend and I also wrote thank you letters to our middle-school English teacher and science teacher.
Though it’s been a very long time since we were in their classes, it felt good to be able to publicly acknowledge what they meant to us. It’s been wonderful to be back in contact with our English teacher. Unfortunately, our science teacher has passed away but I’m sending a book to his daughter, also a teacher, in his honor.
TT: How can people find out more about this project? How can they help spread the news?
It would be wonderful to have everyone like/share our Facebook page and follow us via twitter @poetry4teachers. You can also follow our progress via the Teaching with Heart, Fire and Poetry blog. If you subscribe to the blog, you’ll receive a teacher reflection each week and be entered into monthly Book Giveaways.
I’d be happy to work directly with anyone to help spread the news or organize school-wide thank you efforts. My ultimate dream is to have the funding so we can make these gift-book packages available for teachers in low-income schools at no cost.
If you have questions, or would like more information or materials for sharing this project with others, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
TT: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thank you for your terrific website and for letting me share this project with you and your fellow Teacher-Travelers!
Most of all, I hope all teachers will feel lifted up by this wave of gratitude. Thanks for all you do!
TT: Thanks so much, Megan! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?