American education reformer, Horace Mann, once said, “A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupils with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.” Those teachers who do inspire students are gems. Show them your appreciation during Teacher Appreciation Week, which is celebrated in the United States during the first full week of May. The recognition occurs this year from May 3rd through May 7th with Tuesday designated as official ‘Teacher Appreciation Day’.
The school’s administrative staff needs to take the lead on Teacher Appreciation Day. I have worked as a teacher in several schools. At some of them, we faculty were truly honored, but at others we were barely recognized. Be sure your staff feels acknowledged. Start off the week with a breakfast served to the teachers. Decorate with tablecloths and flowers-just as you would for personal guests. Invite some of the bigwigs in the school district. Hire or recruit volunteer massage therapists to provide teachers with neck and shoulder massages. Arrange to have a mobile car-washing company on campus one day to clean the outsides of teachers’ cars. TeacherVision.com recommends giving teachers paper apples on which to jot down items they’d like to have in their classrooms. Display them on a prominent bulletin board where parents and students can ‘pick’ the apples and purchase the items.
Parent/Teacher/Student Organizations are generally very involved in Teacher Appreciation Week. They often place daily gifts in each teacher’s mailbox. However, even parents who are not active in the organization can encourage their children to recognize teachers. There are many gifts on the market today that a teacher would appreciate (See Teacher Gifts: Think outside the Box). I was once given a year’s subscription to a wine club. Each month when I received a new bottle, I realized all over again this parent’s high regard for my service. This same idea could be expanded to pizza delivery. Perhaps a parent could take her child to a “Paint Your Own Pottery” ceramic studio and help him create a handmade, personalized gift for his teacher.
Students like to give gifts and cards to their teachers and they are well received; however, I’ve also seen very creative projects taken on by student councils. For example, students put on a skit at a teacher luncheon showing ‘what life would be like without (teacher names)’. Some parts were serious, but others were hilarious. This can also be done in an interview format. Students can get on the loud speaker each morning during Teacher Appreciation Week and remind teachers how and why they’re appreciated.
It is always a nice treat when educators receive food coupons from local vendors during Teacher Appreciation Week. It not only saves money, but helps the teacher feel that the community values his contribution. A business can ‘adopt’ a school or a teacher. These partners in education provide supplies and support where needed.
Teacher Appreciation Week is at the end of the school year for nine-month employees. By this time, if you’re a teacher, you are no doubt as ready as your students are for a break. Rejuvenate during these last few weeks of school. Read Cindi Rigsbee’s “Finding Mrs. Warnecke”. In this book Cindi recounts her rocky start as a first grader and continues through to her own eventual career in education. She focuses on the first grade teacher who impacted her life. The two were united on Good Morning America in 2008. Mrs. Warnecke was taken back, as are many teachers, to realize the impact she’d had on one young student many years ago. It’s a motivational story that could keep you revved up until June.
Teacher Gift Ideas at Acitivity Village
Education World Administrators’ Center: Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week
Teacher Appreciation Week Activity Ideas