I can think of few groups that deserve more appreciation than teachers. The majority of teachers are selfless and hardworking professionals who put their own lives on hold regularly to support children and young adults. They give blood, sweat and tears daily so that their students should be able to learn and grow. (I want to say that again, blood, sweat and tears…. literally.) The only reward they seek is their students’ success (and maybe a livable wage).
There’s a funny meme circulating around social media that says “if your job requires an appreciation week, you’re not making enough money”. Not gonna lie, that one made me laugh. There’s definitely some truth to it. But I’d take it a step further; it’s not just a good salary that would make teachers feel appreciated, but genuine respect and appreciation for ALL they do in a day. Most teachers I know really just want that respect, and maybe a more reasonable work load.
Some schools do a lot during teacher appreciation week to show support of their teachers. Some do nothing. Appreciation week is not standardized across the country.
A few years ago I was working at a school that did, literally, exactly, nothing for its teachers. Nada. Bupkis. Not even an email. So we, the staff leaders, decided to address the situation with some inexpensive teacher appreciation activities. I have further honed those ideas and expanded them to take place at different times throughout the year, because our appreciation shouldn’t be limited to just one week. I have taken these ideas to other schools and they have always been a huge success. Here’s a rundown of these free or inexpensive ways to spread appreciation and gratitude.
Student Appreciation Notes (Cost: FREE!)
I created some sentence prompts for students to fill out for their teachers. They measure half a piece of paper and say something like “Dear _____, I just wanted to say thank you for ____________ and I hope you know I ________. Sincerely, _____” They are easy enough to copy and cut. During teacher appreciation week I leave a stack of these in the classroom and the “Do Now / Exit Ticket” one day is to fill out as many as you’d like for any teacher except me. This is totally optional and I don’t force any kids to do it, but they usually decide to write several. In fact, kids will come in the next day and ask “Miss, do you have any more of those notes? I have another teacher I’d like to write one for.”
After kids write them, I have them give them to me so I can put them in teachers’ mailboxes. Alternatively, you could have the kids deliver them themselves, but I fear they would forget and I want to make sure the teachers get the note.
If you have a class that is reluctant to write more than one, you could always offer an extra credit point on their next test for every note they write.
I deliver these notes to teachers mailboxes every day during the week and oh wow! You wouldn’t believe how much joy they bring! They don’t know they’re from my class, so I just act like a little “Appreciation Fairy” dropping random notes of thanks into their mailboxes. I’ll hear teachers sharing their notes with each other in the hallway or the bathroom, smiling and laughing and just so happy with the kind words. Those sorts of things can just make a teacher’s year!!
Bagel Breakfast with a schmear of Gratitude (Cost: $120 split by 6 people)
NYC is the bagel capital of the world and every NYer knows a bagel needs a good schmear. This particular one can’t be found in a bagel shop though…..
The teacher leaders at my school got together and pooled their money to put out a bagel breakfast for the teachers. (We even invited admin). We served bagels, cream cheese, butter, juice and coffee. It wasn’t terribly expensive, especially when split 6 ways, (About $20 each) and it was so worth it. If you have a sunshine committee they could probably contribute to this as well.
We set the food up in a classroom and decorated with tablecloths and streamers and a sign that said “we appreciate you”. Teachers served themselves and found a seat, sitting down to chat with their colleagues.
On the tables were paper, markers, colored pencils and stickers. We asked everyone to please make a card for a colleague, and share something they appreciate about that person. It could be anything! “Thank you for always smiling and saying hi when we pass in the hallway!” or “Thank you for being a great thought partner.” or “I appreciate that I can come talk to you and seek advice.” Everyone wrote at least 2 cards and every teacher on staff received a card. It was a lovely way for our teachers to be appreciated by their peers.
Student Assistants for a period (Cost: FREE!!)
My students actually came up with this next idea. As a teacher appreciation gift, students created coupons that offered their services as an assistant for a period. The kids had fun creating the coupons, listing their services (cleaning desks, organizing manipulatives, grading, sweeping floors….) and coloring them. They then presented them to their teachers throughout the week. Teachers had a month to “cash them in”. At any time, if a teacher gave a student the coupon it meant they were asking to use it. Kids would stay after school, or help out during class to lighten that teacher’s load for that day. The kids LOVED it and got some insight into how much teachers have to do behind the scenes. The teachers were touched by the effort and greatly appreciated the help.
There are so many things that we can do to support teachers. It doesn’t require money, it requires respect and gratitude. That’s really all they want anyway.
The student appreciation notes I created are available on my TPT store as a digital download. Check them out! https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teacher-Appreciation-Notes-8029423
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