I was talking with a teacher friend the other day and knowing the line of work I'm in, I had to ask, "what is it that teachers Really want?" How can you make teachers and staff truly feel the appreciation that they deserve? I work hard to create printable products and gifts that will help teachers feel valued, but is it even possible? I mean, they do so much and does a small gift really get received the way you want it to?"
She looked at me and responded, "Sort of, but not usually. I mean we love gifts, don't get me wrong! But what we really want is a voice, to feel respected, to have the community look at us like we matter, to be treated with kindness. That we aren't over paid babysitters who lay around all summer."
Woah. Truth bomb.
I realized what she is asking for isn't something a coffee mug, or any other purchase is going to necessarily convey. Although thoughtful, what teachers often want is something deeper, to feel the impact of the intentional and intimate work they do. So to reflect that back, an intimate and intentional gift (or better yet, gesture) must be given so they understand how much we do really appreciate them.
What is that though? This can be so tricky and stressful to figure out.
Not to worry! Below are some truly amazing ideas (with valuable input from my teacher friend!) that you can use to thank teachers in very meaningful ways during teacher appreciation week.
This is free you guys! FREE!! And means the world to any human, but especially to teachers and staff who pour their heart and soul into the enrichment and overall betterment of your child!
Kindness is the number #1 thing you can give to any teacher for teacher appreciation week. Being kind can make all the difference in their morale over the year and will reflect in the way they teach. This is the gift that keeps on giving and the one that schools need the most.
So how do you show it? Read onto #2 to find out!
2. WORDS AND ACTIONS OF GRATITUDE
Being kind, or frankly, being nice, can take all shapes and forms. There is no limit to what you can do!
Our personal favorite is using this Appreciation Gratitude Tear Off Flyer. You can print as many as you want and hang them up all over the school! Anyone and everyone can get involved and hand them to each other or students can give to teachers and staff!
If you are a parent show up at the school and offer a smile, hug or a firm handshake, look them in the eye and genuinely say "thank you, I sincerely appreciate you." It really is that simple!
If showing up is not an option or you prefer to say express your thanks with words you can also write a heartfelt letter, poem or note to your child's teacher communicating your gratitude for all the work they do.
If you are a principal or other administrative school professional, take time to have a one-on-one with each teacher to say, "thank you, you're doing a great job!"
Handing out award certificates is another great way to appreciate teachers and staff and is sure to make them feel valued and appreciated, especially if they are customized directly for them! Hand these out at an appreciation event or at a school assembly so they can feel like a star for a moment!
Lastly (and a personal favorite idea) is setting up an APPRECIATION STATION!
What is an appreciation station you ask? It's simply a table in an open common area (such as a cafeteria, school entrance or library) adorned with a large banner and set up with pencils, pens and blank note cards. Students, parents, volunteers and other staff can swing by to write something nice. It's awesome for boosting positivity and joy and makes for a wonderful built in festive decoration for appreciation week to boot!
3. GETTING STUDENTS INVOLVED
The magic and reward of teaching is seeing their students develop and grow, so it just makes perfect sense that students would be invited to partake in celebrating and appreciating their teachers. Here are a few fun ways we've come up with doing just that!
- Have a day where students dress up like their teacher
- Have a day where every time a student walks past a teacher in the hallway they give them a high five, fist bump or fun wave
- Have students fill out fun teacher madlibs or "thank you teacher coloring worksheets" and give them to their teacher
- Have a day where students take a selfie with their teacher and can post it on your school's web page
- Have students make a simple handmade craft gift they can gift to their teacher
4. A LITTLE HUMOR
Puns are Fun! Infusing laughter into the school all year long is a great idea to boost happiness and morale, but make extra sure you add the joy of humor into your teacher appreciation week celebrations!
How? It's Easy! Just think about being silly and word play and you've got a recipe for laughter. Here are some ideas:
- Have the principal (or better yet a student volunteer) tell a funny teacher joke every morning over the loudspeaker during announcements.
- Have students come up with a silly dance or performance to put on for their teachers, that is sure to make them smile!
- Tell Your Teachers How Punderful they are with a different Pun Activity or Treat Each Day. The ideas are limitless and we have SO many great pun ideas for you!
Here are just a few to start:
5. FUN SURPRISES
When we boil it down to the core, Teacher Appreciation Week is a Party! A party we throw for our amazing teachers and staff to make them feel all the warm fuzzies inside. So when thinking about how to shower them with the thanks they deserve think about what makes a great party... besides laughter and fun you need some food and surprises too!
Here's Our Favorite Ideas
- Have a Teacher Appreciation candy grams fundraiser. Students and parents can purchase a gram to write a special note and have it delivered to teachers during the day with a sweet treat (this is a great way to make up for some of the expense too)
- Surprise them with little gifts on their desk each morning. This could be food, coffee, school supplies, flowers, gift cards, and more!
- Go around to classrooms with an appreciation snack cart to deliver fun treats
- Hire food trucks or ice cream truck one day for the afternoon, host a parking lot grill out or rent a popcorn machine for the break room
- Set out surprise treats or Snack Bar in the break room or staff lounge. Click the picture below for some amazing snack ideas that include fun puns too!
- Send Flower Deliveries to Teachers or have students each walk up to the teacher with a single stem and a compliment to make a bouquet on his/her desk.
- Decorate Teachers Doors with construction paper, fun sayings, superhero images and more to make them feel super special
With so many fun surprise ideas it's hard to choose! In addition if you want to tie your teacher appreciation week together nicely you can go all out with a full theme! We have tons of Teacher Appreciation Theme Ideas Here!
6. A MINUTE TO RELAX
As we all know, teaching can be stressful. Help teachers and staff calm their nerves by bringing in a massage therapist for a day and offering time slots for 10 minute massages on their break! Teachers can sign up and head down to get a neck and shoulder rub during their break. An amazing idea to make them feel refreshed and rejuvenated!
Hiring a massage therapist not an option for your school? That's ok! You can give the gift of relaxation many other ways. Maybe you bring a yoga teacher in instead. He/she can teach a quick 15 minute chair yoga class in the gymnasium so they feel calm and centered during their break.
Otherwise gift cards to a spa, or purchasing a meditation app for your teachers is another great route. Perhaps you can even make a gift basket with essential oils, an eye mask, bath salts and candle so they can put their feet up and unwind a bit easier when they arrive home. Any of these ideas are a great way to help teachers feel absolutely appreciated for all their hard work and effort!
We even have a printable SPA-TACULAR GIFT TAG for you here that you can personalize and add to any of the relaxation gifts should you choose to go that route for your special teacher!
7. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
So when I refer back to when I asked my teacher friend what she really wanted, she mentioned that people, meaning the general public saw teachers in a new light. To feel respected and that what they do matters.
Getting the community involved in your Teacher Appreciation Week Celebrations is huge! It also can help with funding your celebrations too if you enlist the support of local business to help with catering or monetary sponsor donations.
Here are some other ways to really rally up the community behind its teachers:
- Hold a Stock The Classroom Donations Drive at a local library or community center. Then take all the school supplies that were collected from community members and hand them out during teacher appreciation week as gifts for their classrooms!
- Public Displays of Affection. This could be Huge Thank You Banners displaying that we love and appreciate our teachers not only on the outside of the school, but also on local grocery stores, banks, public buildings and more.
Don't just think businesses either. Anyone can express thanks at their homes too! Put a thank you teachers yard sign in your lawn or put up a thank you teachers sign in your window.
- Students of any age can get in on the fun too! Have them chalk the walk with sidewalk chalk the sidewalks at their homes or in front of the school with drawings and messages of thanks and love to their teachers. Take pictures of their sidewalk art and post them to the school's webpage so everyone can see!
Make Teacher Appreciation Week not just a school event, but an entire community event where we can stand proud and rally behind our awesome teachers!
8. A KEEPSAKE OR MEMORY OF THEIR CLASS
A great way to celebrate teachers is to celebrate how their students have grown and developed throughout the year. Creating a class memory book or fingerprint gifts is a great way for teachers to hold onto their classroom kiddos forever and is a cherished way to appreciate the work of the teacher.
9. CAMARADERIE WITH COLLEAGUES AND STAFF
Teachers ultimately want to feel valued and understood. They spend so much of their waking hours teaching, planning, and doing all the things that there is not a lot of time left to have conversations with other teachers or staff. Having the chance to be in a relaxed social setting with fellow teacher coworkers who understand the rewards and trials of their profession is huge. It is a great way to boost morale and have teachers make better working social connections and friends!
This can be done so many ways! Host a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast or Luncheon during the school day. Or better yet host a happy hour one night after school lets out. Maybe even an appreciation bbq dinner at the principal's house if the school is small enough. If it's a larger school maybe you can rent a private room in a restaurant to have an appreciation dinner there.
You can think beyond food too! Introduce games into your Teacher Appreciation Week Events to add more fun and ways to connect. Try hosting a bingo appreciation night with hors d' oeuvres or maybe you set up the gymnasium full of different tables with a different board game on each and have teachers rotate in different groups playing different games. Make the food part easy and cater in subs or have a help yourself taco bar setup so they can munch as they please in between all the fun!
Love the idea of playing games to build school staff bonds and have fun during teacher appreciation week? Consider doing an entire BOARD GAMES THEME Teacher Appreciation Week!
10. TO KNOW HOW THEIR PAST STUDENTS ARE DOING
Teachers on a deep level know what they do is important and matters, otherwise they wouldn't do it (we all know by now it's not for the pay!) A great way to really show them the difference they've made is through enlisting the help of their previous pupils.
Send a call out on facebook or social media to past students of all ages asking to send in a quick note, letter, status update or pictures of where they are now, how they are doing and thanking a favorite teacher or mentor at the school for being a part of their success. These can be compiled in a little box and given to teachers during the week to sit down with and read. A real tearjerker meaningful gift that is sure to swell up with pride as they take a trip down memory lane revisiting past students and feeling the true difference they have made.
BONUS: TRY TO STEER CLEAR OF CLICHE COFFEE MUGS AND TOTE BAGS!
It's tempting, there are so many cute little goodies out there for teachers. If something strongly calls to you and you think your child's teacher is just going to LOVE it, by all means gift away! Chances are though, if your child's teacher has been teaching for awhile, they probably have a large collection of these items.
Instead, if you're not sure what you want to give but know a traditional gift is the way you'd like to show your thanks, a practical or useful gift is the way to go. That is, according to my teacher friend. She loves getting school supplies and things for her classroom that the students will benefit from! Also gift cards are great so they can purchase exactly what they want or need. And there are so many ways you can gift them creatively with our GIFT CARD HOLDERS with cute puns and sayings!
If a gift card feels generic to you and you want to get something more personal but unsure what your teacher may like, you can ask teachers to fill out a Teacher's Favorite Things Survey so you can collect information that will help you pick out the ideal gift!
This is a great idea for school pto/pta groups to hand out at the beginning of the school year so parents can gift teachers all year long, not just during Teacher Appreciation Week! Because teachers deserve to be celebrated everyday for all the work they do and to really know that it matters and that WE SEE THEM!