One of my favorite questions that we ask in our Daily Edventures interviews is: “Can you tell us about a favorite teacher, or someone who made a difference in your education?” Almost universally, our most innovative teachers attribute their success to a single educator – whether it was an especially engaged kindergarten teacher who sparked the flame of curiosity, a high school math instructor who made numbers fun, or a tough college professor who gave his students the confidence to pursue their dreams. Today we have an extra-special reason to celebrate the great work teachers do in shaping tomorrow’s leaders: it’s National Teacher Day.
Throughout this week, U.S. schools are organizing activities to honor the heroes in our midst who work tirelessly on behalf of students. The event was first celebrated in 1953 after Eleanor Roosevelt proposed that Congress set aside a day to acknowledge the work of educators. Now sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), National Teacher Day has become an annual opportunity to recognize great educators and, importantly, to highlight the challenges they face. Students and communities around the country are thanking teachers and highlighting some of their favorites by sharing videos on social media.
It’s no secret that today’s teachers face significant challenges. Not only are they expected to prepare our students for the 21st century workforce; they must also manage the demands of increased standardized testing and decreased parental engagement. All of this against the backdrop of a technology revolution both inside and outside the classroom. According to a study conducted by the NEA:
- 45 percent of new teachers abandon the profession in their first five years.
- More teachers believe collaborating with colleagues is essential to their work, but many districts still don’t provide time for teachers to learn, share and collaborate.
- Nearly all classrooms (97 percent) have one or more computers, but half of the nation’s teachers say they need training to better integrate technology into classroom instruction—and such support is unevenly distributed across schools.
- Teachers’ salaries still lag behind those for other occupations requiring a college degree, and the pay gap is growing larger.
At Microsoft, we’re committed to helping teachers meet these challenges 365 days a year. From teacher training and professional development with the Microsoft Educator Network and the Microsoft in Education Global Forum, connected cloud solutions that meet the demands of IT, faculty and students, or Windows and devices perfect for raising the pedagogical bar of learning in the classroom, Microsoft has the tools and resources to support teachers and schools every step of the way. I want to encourage Daily Edventures readers to sign up for the Microsoft Educator Network and Microsoft in Education programs today. These programs give free, 24/7 support to teachers anywhere in the world, and provide a rich environment for professional development and collaboration.
I consider myself very fortunate: I get to meet some of the world’s finest teachers and school leaders throughout the year, including Expert Educators like Kuwait’s Dalia Yunis, Spain’s Àngels Soriano Sanchez and Florida’s Todd LaVogue, to name just a few. And I get to know them more closely at the annual Microsoft in Education Global Forum. This week – and every other week – these educators’ perspectives, and the way they inspire others, are making a tangible difference for our kids and our communities. I want to recognize how deeply honored I feel to be working with them.
National Teacher Day is a great reminder for all of us to recognize and celebrate teachers throughout the year. Don’t forget to acknowledge a teacher you know this week! And you can say “thank you” to a teacher anytime by nominating him or her to be interviewed on www.dailyedventures.com. Just go to firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how your “heroes” in education inspire you each and every day.