We all had that one very special teacher who made learning fun, encouraged us, challenged us, and had a huge impact on our lives, either directly or indirectly.
Teacher Appreciation Week is the first week of May and is the ideal time for you and your child to let a teacher know how special they are. Forget the Starbucks Gift Card -- they’ll get enough of those from other kids.
Here are 10 ways to show appreciation:
1. Have your child write a handwritten note to the teacher, telling him or her one thing that they have learned from that teacher and why it matters to them. Or tell the teacher about a specific teaching style that the teacher has used and how your child enjoys learning in that manner.
2. Nominate the teacher for an award. Tell them you nominated them. They don’t need to win to feel appreciated. The simple act of nominating them expresses your appreciation for their efforts. Here are four Teacher Awards to which you can nominate your child’s teacher.
- National Teacher’s Hall of Fame
- National Association of Special Education Teachers Award
- PBS Teacher Digital Innovator Award
- The Kennedy Center Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards
3. Fill their classroom with supplies. You know, the ones they go out and buy with their own money.
4. Do you know anything about the teacher’s private life? If they like to cook, put together a basket with one of your family’s favorite recipes and all the ingredients to make the dish. Buy a best-selling novel for the avid reader, a blank canvas for the painter, or a sleeve of golf balls for the golfer.
5. Write a letter to the Principal explaining why you believe the teacher is exceptional. Use specific examples of how the teacher has influenced your child’s learning. Copy the teacher on the letter. Who doesn’t like to look great in front of their boss?
6. Volunteer to clean the classroom on the last day of school. After the kids have gone, teachers are left to pack up their belongings and clean the classroom. Bring boxes and cleaning supplies to help your teacher get an earlier start to his/her summer.
7. It can be embarrassing for a teacher to receive a gift that has a high price tag; but not if it comes from the entire class. Coordinate with all the parents in the class to donate toward one bigger gift from the entire class. A spa day gift card. A gift card for dinner and hotel in the city for the teacher and spouse. Tickets to a professional sporting event.
8. Give an annual pass to something that the teacher can enjoy with family and friends.
- State or National Parks
- Museum (Science, Art, History, Children’s [if the teacher is a parent] )
- Amusement/Water Park
9. Write the teacher a Letter of Recommendation. Many teachers take summer jobs and most employers appreciate Letters of Recommendation. If you know your teacher is going to look for work this summer, provide them with a Letter of Recommendation without them asking for it.
10. For younger grades, buy a book for the classroom and have your child write inside the cover, “Donated to [teacher’s name] class by [child’s name] 2018.” This is a great way for a teacher to build up her/his library of classroom books.
Gifts To Avoid For Teachers:
I have several teachers in my family and I asked them to share what gifts they would suggest parents avoid getting for a teacher. They prefaced their suggestions with the comment, “Teachers like to know they are appreciated so all gifts are appreciated. But if we had to suggest some things to stay away from….”
1. Coffee cups. I read somewhere that this is the #1 gift given to teachers. My cousin, a teacher, said in her 10 years of teaching she has received well over 50 coffee mugs. What would you do with 50 coffee mugs?
2. Anything scented. Scent is such a personal thing; both the scent itself and the strength of the scent. This means no bath salts, no candles, no lotions, etc.
3. Baked goods. Teachers are people too. Some struggle with their weight. Others suffer from diabetes or food allergies. Unless you know for a fact that the teacher enjoys what you’re thinking of making/buying, don’t do it!
4. Knick Knacks. This is the same as the coffee cups. Picture frames or signs with teacher sayings are cute when you’re shopping for a gift for a teacher, but again, imagine how many of these items a teacher with 10 years’ experience has received. What could he possibly do with all that stuff? “If it’s for a first-year teacher, go for it!” says my niece, also a teacher.
5. Coffee or tea. Don’t assume that everyone drinks coffee or tea. And even if they do, do they prefer a breakfast blend or hearty dark blend? Best to avoid it all together.
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