It won’t even take one full minute to grasp the wisdom Sharif El-Mekki brings to any conversation about teaching and learning. We could have talked for hours, but I’m grateful to have had this half hour with him as my guest for this Ask Sarah. Here’s our FB Live conversation brought to you in bite sizes as we talked about the biggest landscape of teacher appreciation. Also, I’ve compiled some “Show Notes” so you can dig more into the work of Sharif and some of the topics we talked about. If you’d like, you can also catch the show in it’s entirety, along with the discussion from teachers in the comments on the Teacher2Teacher Facebook page.




I’ve quickly learned one of best parts of having one of these Ask Sarah LIVE conversations with someone else is the resources we end up talking about and accumulate throughout the chat. So, to that end, here’s a collection of our references. We hope these are useful and keep you talking!

Things We Mentioned

  • Sharif’s Teacher2Teacher “My Corner of the World” blog post. Learn more about Sharif!
  • Hear Sharif’s compelling story about how he became a teacher as told at The Moth.
  • Sharif served as a US Department of Education School Leader Ambassador. Are you interested? Read here for more information.

Things We Didn’t Mention (but might be helpful)

We started our discussion hearing Sharif’s story of how he came to be a teacher and how he derives his purpose.

Sharif’s story naturally led us to talk about appreciation of family and community. He helps us demystify what we’re really asking of our families and sometimes the unintended subtext of our relationships created with them.

Sharif also reminds us that one of the ways we can appreciate our school communities is by creating an environment for mistakes.

Then, we jumped into a series of questions from the community about the teachers WE appreciate: “What does Teacher Appreciation mean to you? Do you have a teacher you want to tell us about? Someone who really impacted you?” Sharif shares the one piece of advice from a colleague that has become a touchstone for his career.


One of my favorite moments of the whole conversation happened in this segment when Sharif said, “The best way to show appreciation is to listen.” Not only does he remind us to think carefully about how present we are for each other, but he also shares the empowering story of how he started The Fellowship: Black Male Educators for Social Justice as a way to support, empower and encourage the black male educators in our profession.


Teacher appreciation isn’t just about a week of thank you gifts and cookies, it’s also about the way see each other. That’s what teacher appreciation is truly about. As Sharif says, “Become the teacher you wish you had.” What better way to appreciate the teachers than to become the best one you can?

Also, be sure to check out the show notes for links to some just-in-time resources.

Teach openly,



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