Thank a Teacher

We hear so much about what is wrong with the education in the U.S., but I know this week we can get beyond the debate and the dialogue to focus on celebrating teachers and how we can better support teachers so they can help students be successful. It is after all National Teacher Appreciation Week. The question should be…which teacher are you going to thank this week?

Teachers are the foundation of a strong education system. Some people even go as far to say that effective teachers are the number one predictor of student success. We're partnering with the Department of Education on to encourage more young pepole to go into the profession of teaching. I think what we have to do in the United States and all over the world is celebrate the value and role of teachers in our society, elevate the profession, and elevate the importance that they have in the lives of our families, of our children and of our countries. While it’s good to recognize the sacrifices teachers make, we need to shine a spotlight on the joys of being a teacher, the rewards, the impact and the value that being a teacher has on so many people’s lives.

That is why I started a new blog this year called “Daily Edventures,” where each day a voice of an “everyday hero” working to improve education worldwide is promoted. Teachers, school leaders, policy-makers, business leaders, celebrities…people who have embraced enhancing education as a core facet in their lives. This is their blog. Who are they, what inspires them, what frustrates them, what hopes do they hold for the future of education? Today, we highlight the 2010 U.S. National Teacher of the Year, Sarah Wessling. I encourage you to take a listen to my interview with Sarah to hear what she thinks makes a great teacher. I personally admire Sarah because she takes the chance to embrace failure, relates content to students’ lives, and most importantly, she tries to not only create life-long learners, but is one herself.

Those of us at Microsoft who are lucky enough to work in education feel a personal passion and commitment toward the future of education. And I have been so lucky to meet so many incredible educators around the world who have the power to inspire our children. There are amazing things happening from the work chess legend Gary Kasparov’s doing to use chess to improve learning, to Mamta Patel Nagaraja’s work at NASA to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers. This journey has confirmed what I knew before the year started…there’s no shortage of ideas, approaches or great leaders.  We need to work together to drive and scale change…and we can no longer tolerate dissension or distraction from our mission to help every child reach their full potential.

Partners in Learning is Microsoft’s $500 million global initiative to help improve teaching and learning. So far, we’ve reached 10 million teachers and 200 million students in 119 countries. In November, in Athens, Greece, we will convene hundreds of the world’s best teachers at the Partners in Learning Global Forum. It’s the culmination of regional and country events around the world where educators compete to represent their countries most innovative teaching that uses technology and helps students build 21st century skills. If you are a teacher reading this, I encourage you to apply to attend what promises to be a life-changing experience.

So, who will you say “thank you” to today? I am saying thanks to all of you out there who continue to work hard for our children’s future and inspire me every day to work harder to serve your needs.