In case you didn’t know, this week is National Teacher Appreciation Week (Tuesday, May 6th is National Teacher Appreciation Day). I’ll be honest, at the secondary level, this pretty much ranks up there with National Gummy Worm Day (July 15th) as one of the most under-celebrated holidays of the year. (Although, to be fair, Pie Day – March 14th – kind of makes up for it.) But, thanks to the internet, it seems to be gaining some popularity lately, and even a few major retailers and chains have caught on with deals etc. for teachers this week.
Just to name a few:
Chickfila – Teachers get a free sandwich with ID (10:30AM – close)
Chipotle – Teachers get BOGO burritos/bowls with ID (4PM – close)
New York & Co. – 30% off all purchases May 1 – May 7 with ID
Popular opinion about the education system is all over the place, but the fact remains that teachers invest A LOT of their own heart, energy, time, and even money into other peoples’ kids. I firmly believe that it is not “just” a job, but a calling. (Check out this post that I wrote last TAW for more on that.) So, while I’m not expecting a lot of gifts or hype this week, I do think this is a great opportunity to bless the teachers in your own life…
Whether they are simply your friends that teach, former teachers of yours, or your kids teachers, here are a ten ideas to make this Teacher Appreciation Week a special one for (several of these are completely free too):
1. Drop off surprise coffee, lunch, or treats. One blogger I read does this for her kids’ teachers (and also the postman, UPS guy, etc.) once a week. I can’t even imagine! Remember that teaching is different from most other professions in that we can’t just head leave school to grab a latte or eat lunch out whenever we want. A Starbucks drink or a salad from Chickfila may seem small, but it would be a total treat to me!
2. Stock the teacher’s lounge. Put a box of donuts in the teacher lounge and the whole school will be buzzing within minutes. (Teachers, am I right?) Even better, I’ve heard of school systems that bring in professionals to give teachers massages during planning periods. The possibilities are endless here. 🙂 (BONUS IDEA: Get a group of parents together to wash all the teachers cars while they are in the parking lot!)
3. Help clean, organize, or decorate their classroom after school. Wipe off the desks, put up a new bulletin board, etc. etc. Seriously, you’d be amazed how much a teacher will be able to find to keep you busy for just one hour.
4. Donate supplies or decorations to their classroom. My husband jokes that I “break even” with my job around Christmas break every year. If you know the teacher is coming back the next year, it is absolutely NOT lame to give them school supplies — pens, pencils, markers (I buy new markers EVERY year and I don’t even use them that much, I can’t imagine how it must be for elementary school), tissues, antibacterial wipes, you get the idea… (I also love this idea of giving motivational posters from my fellow mom-teacher-blogger friend Heather.)
5. Send flowers. Very little makes me happier and more inspired than fresh flowers.
6. Give a gift card. I think any teacher would agree that this is our very favorite material gift… Some ideas include: TARGET, STARBUCKS, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. PLEASE believe me when I say – giving a gift card is NOT taking the easy way out!
7. Volunteer to cover their class for an hour (read a book, lead a craft or activity, be a guest speaker about your job, etc.) so they can catch up on paperwork and grading.
8. Tell the principal, superintendent, etc. about a teacher you think excels. We are human, and we like praise just as much as the next guy. Unfortunately, in this profession – with the pressure from test scores etc. – we don’t get nearly enough of it from our “bosses”. Take a minute to make a phone call or send an email and brag on your child’s teacher to his/her superior. It really does make a difference.
9. Make a donation in their honor. Consider something like Teach for America, First Book, Teachers Without Borders, Cristina Foundation, or Crayons to Classrooms OR pick a classroom project to fund using DonorsChoose.org.
10. TELL THEM what a difference they have made. This might be the simplest idea of all, but it is by far the most meaningful. Take the time this week to send a hand-written note (or even an email really) to a teacher that has made a difference in your life or the life of your child. If they are like me, they will keep those letters and and treasure them for forever – I even keep a file in my email called “TO READ ON HARD DAYS” with these kinds of things. Just do it.
A quick search on Pinterest will give you TONS more ideas and lots of cute printables (for the over-achievers) to dress up your gifts. Just remember, it truly is the thought that counts – don’t stress over it looking like something out of magazine or costing an arm and a leg. We don’t do this job for the money or fame, trust me!
To my teacher friends, THANK YOU for the work you do. You deserve a week of praise and so much more!!!
P.S. If you are social-media savvy (which, you probably are if you are reading this post), consider downloading a #ThankATeacher sign from the US Department of Education here and sharing it tomorrow via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc.
P.S.S. I’m working on an official “Teaching Tuesday” post for tomorrow with links to some of my favorite teacher-blogs. If you have a go-to read for teachers, would you please post a link in the comments!! Thanks!