Did you know May 2-6 is Teacher Appreciation Week?
For six years I’ve been an occasional substitute teacher in our local elementary schools. During one of those years, I subbed long-term for three different teachers on maternity leave.
To say it was an “eye-opening experience” would be a vast understatement.
Let’s just say that if we are standing in line at Walmart and you tell me you’re a teacher, I want to ask everyone in the check-out line at Walmart to step aside, please, there is a teacher who needs to check out first.
But that’s a little socially awkward for both of us. So Instead I wrote an article at the Huffington Post which you can read here.
In past years, I’ve compiled my own little list of ways to appreciate teachers based on needs I saw when I was in the classroom daily. (You can read those here . Or there’s a little chuckle for teachers here.)
This year, however, I asked some teachers I know personally what makes them feel appreciated.
I’m so glad I asked.
It turns out you don’t have to buy teacher-y trinkets or be socially awkward in the check-out line at Walmart in order to show appreciation.
The responses I received fell into several categories:
Food: snacks, soda, lunch, gum, tea, coffee, chocolate, donuts or “just because” treats for the class
Gifts: Gift cards to book stores, Amazon, office supply stores and restaurants; plant or flower that can be planted outside
Supplies: sharpened pencils, pencil top erasers, post-it notes, sharpie markers, and dry-erase markers.
Parental Support: Parents who are willing to help with classroom activities, who make sure homework is done, who notice and mention a child’s progress.
Most of those things you might have expected, but I was reminded the most valuable gift we can give can’t be bought in a store.
Every single teacher said (in one way or another) the most meaningful gifts they have received are…
Words of Thanks: And I quote…
“Handmade cards from students with a message inside are the best gifts I have received.”
“A sincere handwritten note was one of my favorites, mentioning specifically what the student enjoyed that year.”
“I have kept notes from students and parents from 20 years ago.”
“Just a few words of acknowledgement go so far.”
“The words are always what meant so much to me as a teacher. I taught little ones, but sentences describing what they liked about me, what I helped them do, a hand drawn picture, a poem etc…those are always gems.”
“Just to be thanked means a lot to a teacher.”
“I really appreciate a note of appreciation more than anything else.”
“A nice letter. I get a kick out of them if they are from former students who remember me.”
“Teachers like to hear how their teaching connects with their students’ lives.”
“Teachers like to hear from former students.”
“I have received lots of nice things over the years. However, the most precious are heartfelt notes from parents.”
I’m so glad I asked the question. To be honest, I thought there would be more to do, or more to buy. So, I felt a little surprised.
But I shouldn’t have been.
To know one’s work is valued and lasting is a priceless gift.
Encouragement and appreciation fuel the passion that fuels the work. And we—parents, students, and communities—are the grateful beneficiaries of such important and well-fueled work.
So take a moment this week to thank a teacher.
You’ll be doing all of us a favor.
How have you thanked a teacher?
Teachers, what makes you feel appreciated?