Teacher Appreciation Week - National Council of Teachers of English

Dear Teachers, You’re Appreciated!

Now more than ever, we recognize the importance of educators all over the world. Day in and day out, teachers provide one of the most important services to our communities: care, attention, and support to children and students everywhere. As leaders doing the challenging work of developing the future minds of the world, we want to extend our deepest and most sincere appreciation to all of you.

For Teacher Appreciation Week this May (4–8), we invite you to take part in the following activities NCTE has created just for you. In this particularly stressful time, we seek to support as well as celebrate all you contribute to our world. Please consider joining us at one or all of the special engagements.


Monday, May 4 | 4:00 p.m. ET


“This Very Moment Is Perfect for Writing” with New Hampshire Poet Laureate Alexandria Peary 

In this interactive session, we’ll explore reasons and methods for making present time the centerpiece of the writing process. By focusing on the present, we cast new light on standard instructional components (audience, invention, and revision) while highlighting often overlooked aspects of the writing experience (impermanence, the monkey mind of self-talk, preconceptions about writing ability and assignment, and audience demons). We’ll discuss the downside of mindlessness, or future- and past-oriented thinking, for writers as a source of writing blocks. Much is lost when we overlook the present moment because we forfeit rewarding writing experiences in exchange for stress, frustration, boredom, and shortchanged creativity. With a more mindful approach to writing, every moment can become a prolific moment, productive and calm, for teachers and students. Participants will leave the session with two activities to help teach mindful writing in the online or face-to-face classroom.



Alexandria Peary maintains a dual career in creative writing and composition-rhetoric and specializes in mindful writing. She is a professor in the English Department at Salem State University, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire Poet Laureate. Her NCTE blog post, “The Ability to Write Is Always Present,” shares ideas from her most recent book, Prolific Moment: Theory and Practice of Mindfulness for Writing. Mindful writing to help alleviate writing blocks is also the topic of her 2019 TEDx talk, “How Mindfulness Can Transform the Way You Write.” Learn more and read Peary’s poetry on her Poetry Foundation page.


Tuesday, May 5 | 5:00 p.m. ET


“How Teachers Inspire Lifelong Journeys” with Matt Mendez, author of Barely Missing Everything

Join author Matt Mendez and his influential high school English teacher, Joy Baggett, as they discuss Matt’s career now as a writer and how Ms. Baggett influenced his interest in reading, writing, and more. Cheryl Hogue Smith, chair of the Two-Year College English Association (TYCA), will moderate the session.



Matt Mendez has worked on airplanes all of his adult life and is the author of the short story collection Twitching Heart and the YA novel Barely Missing Everything. His stories have appeared in Huizache, The Acentos Review, BorderSenses, PankThe Literary Review, and other places. Barely Missing Everything was named a 2019 Best YA Book by Kirkus, Seventeen magazine, NBC Latino, and Texas Monthly. Matt is from El Paso, Texas, but now lives with his wife and two daughters in Tucson, Arizona. You can visit him at mattmendez.com or follow him on Twitter at @mattgmendez.


Wednesday, May 6 | 4:00 p.m. ET

“The Tale of Two English Teachers” with author Tony Wagner 

Join Tony Wagner, former teacher, teacher educator, and the author of seven books, in a conversation about his newest book, a memoir, Learning by Heart: An Unconventional Education. He’ll talk about the teachers who had the greatest influence on him, what they did that made such a difference in his life, and what some implications might be for teaching in the midst of our pandemic. Roberta Price Gardner, chair of the Elementary Section Steering Committee, will moderate the session.



Tony Wagner, a globally recognized voice in education, is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, founded by Linda Darling-Hammond in 2015. Prior to this appointment, Tony held a variety of positions at Harvard University for more than twenty years, including four years as an Expert in Residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab and the founder and co-director, for more than a decade, of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His previous work experience includes twelve years as a high school teacher, K-8 principal, university professor in teacher education, and founding executive director of Educators for Social Responsibility.

Tony is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences and a widely published author. His work includes numerous articles and six books. Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era, coauthored by Ted Dintersmith, was published by Scribner in 2015. Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, was published in 2012 to rave reviews and has been translated into 17 languages. His 2008 book, The Global Achievement Gap, continues to be an international bestseller, with more than 140,000 copies in print.


Thursday, May 7 | 4:00 p.m. ET

“How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again” with author Dan Santat 

Dan Santat will join us for a special discussion of his book After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again). The recipient of the 2018 NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children, After the Fall is especially timely now as many children and adults experience anxiety in the face of COVID-19. Dan will discuss the experiences and inspiration that led to this book and share a special reading of it with everyone. Desiree W. Cueto, chair of the NCTE Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children Committee, will moderate the session.



Dan Santat is a #1 New York Times bestselling author/illustrator of over one hundred titles, including The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, which won the prestigious Randolph Caldecott Medal in 2015. Other titles include Are We There Yet? and After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again). He is also the creator of the Disney animated hit The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and various pets.


Friday, May 8 

Celebrating Memoirs and a Special Book Giveaway 

Teaching and reading memoirs is a popular topic within the NCTE community. Thanks to a generous donation by LEARN and Acorn Paper Products of 1,250 copies of Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith, we are giving away copies to NCTE members only*. Noting the widespread interest in reading and teaching memoirs, we have also curated a collection of resources, and we offer them in tandem with this donation. Check out the resources here.

*This giveaway is for NCTE members with an active membership status. Only one entry per person will be accepted. Winners will be announced at the culmination of Teacher Appreciation Week on Friday, May 8.

Enter to Win


We are excited to announce the #tomyteacher campaign!

Through a series of video messages, some of today’s most beloved writers will tell personal stories of appreciation for teachers who had a profound impact on their lives. People are encouraged to share one or more of the author messages or post their own message to social media with the hashtag #tomyteacher.

Check out beloved writers speaking up with their teacher appreciation stories!