In the past few weeks I have received thank you notes from three current or former students. Here's one example:

During this week of giving thanks, I am certainly thankful to have you as an instructor, advisor and part of my doctoral program. I have learned so much from you and you have inspired in me a stronger interest in technology than I had before. You have also reinforced my love of learning, which I came into the program with, but your classes were (and are) the challenge and the spark that keeps me wanting to know more. Thank you for all you do. I appreciate you more than you'll know.

Of course this note made my day! Like K-12 teachers, it's always great for us professors to hear positive comments from students, particularly after they've left the program and are out in the world.

So this recent flurry of unexpected gratitude got me thinking... for whom am I thankful this Thanksgiving season?

I am thankful for...

  • the members of the educational technology blogosphere, who have welcomed me to the fold and who make a difference through their writing, their thought leadership, and, perhaps most importantly, their willingness to take on current challenges with an earnest good cheer that often stands in stark contrast to the underlying, frustrating reality of K-12 educational technology.
  • folks like Will and David and Wesley and Susan, who are traveling around the country, sacrificing time with loved ones and friends, to spread the message that the digital world has arrived and that schools need to change if they are to be relevant to our children's future.
  • educators like Doug and Miguel and Tim and Cheryl and Jeff and Vicki, who are working inside school systems – educating up, across, and down their internal hierarchies – to facilitate technology-related instructional and organizational change. They are our de facto technology leaders; all we have to do is figure out how to better empower them.
  • the few educational leadership faculty like David Quinn (U. Florida), Jon Becker (Hofstra U.), and Sara Dexter (U. Virginia) who are making technology leadership their career focus. There are 500+ educational administration preparation programs in this country. The total number of educational leadership faculty who are paying attention to technology issues is only about 20 or so.
  • CoSN and ISTE and ETAN, who work diligently to help our elected representatives understand that funding and support for educational technology is critical for our nation's success.
  • people like Doug Levin (Cable in the Classroom) and Ann Flynn (NSBA), who are relatively unknown to most educators and yet are doing extremely important work around technology leadership and policy.
  • principals like Linda Perdaems and Dave Younce and Paul Doyle. Despite some uncertainty and maybe some unfamiliarity with the digital world, they're willing to dive in and try stuff in order to stay current and to model good practice for their staffs.
  • teachers, the vast majority of whom are trying their very best to do right by kids. They may not know much about technology, and they may sometimes be slow to recognize the instructional changes that are needed to keep up with societal shifts, but they're in their classrooms, day in and day out, working hard to prepare our country's next generation. Most of the problems we attribute to teachers are a result of inadequate training and support; they deserve better.
  • preservice teachers. They're entering a profession with low pay, even lower societal prestige, and no political respect, and yet they dare to join us anyway because they believe that they can make a difference. Preservice teachers represent the future of our profession. We owe them the very best that we can give them.

That's my short list. Tomorrow on my own blog I'll probably add some folks that are closer to home. For whom are you thankful? Drop them a note and let them know!

This post is also available at the TechLearning blog.