George Lucas Educational Foundation
Teacher Wellness

5-Minute Film Festival: Teacher Appreciation

May 4, 2012
Image Credit: iStock

While we all know teachers deserve to be thanked all year long, May is set aside as a special time to show even more gratitude to the educators who motivate, guide, and believe in us. So I'll dive right in by shouting out to all the teachers in the trenches making a difference for kids. I tried to keep the overly-sentimental piano music to a minimum and share some truly inspirational videos. Some of the clips in this playlist might make you laugh, and some might make you cry, but all of them should make you feel like a super-hero—for the work you do every day is the most important work that anyone can do. Thank you!

Teacher Appreciation

Watch the first video below, or watch the whole playlist on YouTube.

  1. Take Part's Thank a Teacher (01:18)

    Heartfelt video by the folks behind Waiting for Superman. While some teachers took issue with that film, this particular video's message is simple and straightforward.

  2. The Coolest Video Ever About (01:55)

    Forget the apples -- here's a much better way to show teacher appreciation -- support the projects posted on!

  3. Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make (03:24)

    A cleaned-up version of Taylor Mali's spoken-word poem, a sharp and brilliant retort to those who criticize teachers. Now *this* is inspirational!

  4. Matt Damon and his History Teacher (02:30)

    A news story about what motivated Matt Damon's much-appreciated support for the Save Our Schools movement.

  5. Thank a Teacher (02:07)

    Okay, maybe just one piano-music one. Although this ends with a plug for an ed tech product, I love the bold graphics and the message.

  6. A Teacher Appreciation Story that Inspires (05:34)

    A brain surgeon is encouraged by a patient to go back and thank his middle school science teacher for believing in him. Get your tissues!

  7. Teacher Appreciation Song (00:34)

    This has to be the cutest thank you ever. Teacher Jan, wherever you are, this one must have brightened your day.

  8. Goofy - Teachers Are People (06:20)

    Vintage 1952 Disney cartoon about the classroom, with a hapless Goofy as the noble teacher. It's no piece of cake teaching tomorrow's citizens!

  9. Join StoryCorps. Thank a Teacher. (01:26)

    StoryCorps is an amazing organization that helps people share their stories. In this video, the StoryCorps staff thank their teachers.

  10. Promethean Thanks a Teacher (01:52)

    Admittedly, an even more blatant ad for an ed tech company, but the adorable kids are worth it -- whether you use an interactive whiteboard or an old-fashioned green chalk one.

  11. Learning Matters My Favorite Teacher Series: Edward James Olmos (09:00)

    Actor Edward James Olmos introduces us to his favorite teacher, and talks about the difference teachers can make ... circa 1992.

More Ways to Appreciate Teachers

Whether you are a principal looking to thank your staff, a parent who wants to show appreciation for your child's teacher, or a teacher who wants to show your gratitude to your mentors or other colleagues, there are plenty of great ways to give back to educators. One compelling website, Thanks for Teaching Us, offers a visual display of thank-you notes for educators all over the world, and you can submit your own. Similarly, there are several pages on Facebook where people can post videos or messages to thank their teachers publicly, including the Thank-A-Teacher page by the national PTA. Looking for gift ideas? Check out Education Week's "Sixty-Five Ways to Recognize Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week and All Year Long" article with gift-giving suggestions for administrators, students, and parents, while PTO Today's "Better Ways To Say Thanks" article offers creative ideas for parents to say thank you. Or, perhaps best of all, donate to school projects via great websites like, Adopt-A-Classroom, or Digital Wish. However you choose to express your gratitude, may it come back to you in spades.

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