There is no shortage of reasons to have a celebration in today’s world; we have National Black Cat Appreciation Day on August 17th and National Short Girl Appreciation Day on December 21st.
Literally every day is designated as some sort of holiday, and on the Tuesday of the first full week in May, teachers get their turn. Teacher Appreciation Day is a day to thank teachers for the selfless work they do all year long.
When is Teacher Appreciation Day?
Teacher Appreciation Day is actually one day that is a part of Teacher Appreciation week. The dates vary every year, but it is always in the beginning of May.
In 2024, Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10, and Teacher Appreciation Day is May 7th.
Every year, Teacher Appreciation Week is the first full week in May, and thus, Teacher Appreciation Day is the Tuesday of the first full week in May.
Why Teachers Deserve Teacher Appreciation Week
Have you ever driven past a school at 6 AM on a Monday morning or at 2 PM on a Sunday afternoon? If you have, chances are you’ve seen teacher’s cars in the parking lot.
Any time I go to work in my classroom during non-school hours (which is very often), I’m more likely to see other teachers than not. If they’re not at the school, they’re probably grading or planning from home well into the night and over the weekend. Many people don’t realize the amount of time and heart teachers put into their careers. It’s a fulfilling and rewarding, yet often thankless and tiring job.
The financial toll takes a lot on teachers as well. A recent study by the National Center of Education Statistics found that 94% of teachers spend their own money on their classroom. Paying out-of-pocket for necessary supplies is something people in most traditional occupations would never be asked nor expected to do. In fact, many modern workplace perks that are beginning to become standard in most industries aren’t even possible in the field of education.
In many states, a teacher’s salary starts at or below $30,000/year. This is lower than the average salary of those with only a high school diploma. This low salary alone is enough to make teachers feel like they aren’t appreciated and respected.
Teachers are really good at hiding all the work they do behind the scenes. From a student’s perspective, everything is magically organized and ready to go at the beginning of the day. Classrooms are decorated. Name tags are laminated and carefully placed. Crafts are prepared. Supplies are organized. Class pets are fed and taken care of. Seating charts are strategically arranged. Lessons are planned. Handouts are copied. Tests are created and modified for students with special needs. Essays are graded. Teachers are smiling and ready to tackle the day.
Most teachers do all of this and more without complaint or desire for recognition, and often while being criticized by members of society. Teachers build up the foundation of society. In every walk of life, every single successful person is where they are today thanks, in part, to their teachers.
Doctors, lawyers, police officers, retail workers, engineers, welders—none of them would be where they are if a teacher didn’t first teach them how to read, how to resolve conflict, or how to think critically. If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. The least we can do is devote a week to teachers and their efforts.
How to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week
So what can we do to celebrate teachers? Whether you work directly with teachers or have long been out of school, there are simple things you can do to show a teacher you care.
What Administrators Can Do
You know all the hard work your teachers put in; your schools wouldn’t run without them. Let your teachers know that you see them. Especially when you have an exceptional staff that always steps up to get the job done, it can be easy to take your teachers for granted. Thank them for coming in early, staying late, offering extra tutoring, volunteering as a club adviser, and everything else they do.
Here are some ideas of things you can do for your teachers during teacher appreciation week:
- Cater lunch for them.
- Stop in their classrooms in the middle of the day with a special treat.
- Create a theme for the week and do something special for teachers each day that fits in with the theme.
- Roll out the red carpet and have students carry teachers’ bags and escort them into the building and to their classrooms in the morning.
- Call a “faculty meeting” after school where there is no actual meeting, but there are treats for teachers to enjoy.
- Provide breakfast and coffee.
- Plan an assembly and don’t make the teachers attend; give them time to get some work done in their rooms.
- The logistics of this could be tricky depending on your staffing. An easy way to make this work is to split your teachers up, so they only attend half of the assembly. You could also ask for parent volunteers to come in and help supervise students.
- Stock the faculty lounge with snacks and drinks.
- Bring in a massage therapist and let teachers really catch a break during their planning period.
- Have students write reasons they appreciate their teachers on small slips of paper. Distribute the papers to teachers or post them on a bulletin board.
- Create a team of students to help plan teacher appreciation activities. This will make it easier for you, and more meaningful to teachers and students.
- Hand out door prizes to teachers as they walk into school in the morning.
- Give each student a carnation, with the instructions to then give the carnation to a teacher that has helped them or made an impact on their life.
- Take over lunch or recess duty to give teachers a break.
- Enlist the help of students and parents to decorate teachers’ doors after school.
- Write a brief, individualized thank you note to each teacher.
- Have students get on the morning and afternoon announcements to give shout outs and thanks to teachers.
- Ask for help from the community. You would probably be surprised at how many businesses in your community would be willing to donate gift cards, gift baskets, or products for teachers.
- Compile a list of which businesses are offering deals and discounts to teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, and distribute the list to teachers.
What Teachers Can Do
Hopefully everyone around you is showing you the love. Take this time to reflect on all you do and remember to give yourself a break. Do some research to find out where you can get some deals or freebies just for being a teacher. Chipotle, for example, is one of the businesses that is known for celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day, offering a free burrito to teachers.
This is also a good time to thank and appreciate the teachers around you—your neighbor who watches your class while you run to the bathroom, or your teacher bestie who is always ready to vent with you when you need it most. You need that support to stay sane and get you through the day, so don’t forget to say thanks.
Maybe you take this opportunity to give yourself a little break. Tell your students it’s going to be a few days until you grade their assignments. You’ll see: they’ll live, and the world will keep turning. They might even learn a life lesson in patience.
What the Community Can Do
Community members can also play a part in thanking teachers during teacher appreciation week. Following are some easy ideas.
- If you own a business, show the teachers in your community some love by offering discounts or freebies for teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. You could also donate supplies or deliver small gifts to teachers at your local schools. Brick and mortar businesses can hang a sign in their window thanking teachers.
- Stop in your local schools and ask if there is anything that teachers need donated, or if there is any way you can volunteer your time.
- Write a thank you to the teachers in your community for taking on the responsibility of educating and playing an integral part in raising the children in your community.
What Students and Parents Can Do
In addition to the ideas listed below, students and parents can work with the administration to facilitate activities or gifts for teachers. See some of the ideas above in the “What Administrators Can Do” section.
The very best thing you can do is to let the teachers know how much you appreciate everything they do. Your thanks doesn’t have to be elaborate; you could literally just take a minute of your day to say “thank you” to a teacher. If you want to get more creative than that, check out the Teacher Appreciation Week gift guide below.
Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Guide
For most teachers, the gift itself doesn’t matter. Teaching can be a thankless profession, and a lot of teachers are just happy to be appreciated. Continue reading to find some gift ideas.
Thank You Notes
Don’t undervalue the impact of this gift. A lot of teachers keep old thank you letters and cards on their desks for those really tough days. They pull the letters out to remind themselves why they became a teacher on those days when they’re questioning the profession.
Even if you’re out of school, look up that teacher who really made an impact on you and let them know. I promise they haven’t forgotten you, and they’ll really appreciate it.
Social Media Post
Whether you’re connected with the teacher on social media or not, this is a good way to publicly show the teacher you care and to encourage others to appreciate teachers as well. Create a post with a story about a positive thing the teacher did or start a thread asking others to post the name of a teacher who made a difference in their life.
This can come in many forms, but will be much appreciated. Find out what the teacher’s caffeine of choice is: soda, tea, coffee, etc. The gift could be a gift card, some k-cups, or a 6 pack of soda. You could even surprise the teacher with a hot cup of coffee in the morning.
Every teacher I know has a stash of candy or snacks somewhere, or if they don’t, they have a friend who does. It’s an essential component in any classroom when the day has not gone according to plan at all and the teacher just needs a little something. Prepackaged snacks that a teacher can quickly grab for a little pick me up are a great idea.
You can give a teacher a very meaningful gift by spending no or very little money, but if you want to spend a little bit, a thoughtful gift card is a great option. Pick somewhere you know the teacher likes to go, or somewhere he/she can buy teaching supplies since many teachers spend their own money on their classrooms. Whether you choose somewhere practical or somewhere that will allow the teacher to pamper him/herself, you can’t go wrong.
This one can be tricky because you really need to make sure you know the teacher’s style. If you buy or make them something they don’t like, they’ll feel obligated to display it anyway, and then it just might annoy them more than anything. If you know the teacher well though and have a knack for their style, a nice decoration can be a comforting and welcoming touch to their classroom.
Cleaning Products and Air Fresheners
Although a bit different, this is a great gift for teachers. Classrooms get messy and germy, and teachers rely on disinfectant wipes and other cleaning products regularly. If you notice the teacher already has an air freshener or wax melter, they would probably love some refills of fresh scents. Better yet, offer to stay after school and dust/tidy up the classroom.
Take a good look around the room and take note of what the teacher might be needing. Are all of their dry erase markers running dry? Do students have to go the bathroom to blow their nose because there are no tissues? Could they use some fresh, updated books for their classroom library? These types of gifts are so helpful for teachers because getting them something they need helps to lower their stress and make their day easier. It also shows them that you truly see them and put thought into getting them something they need.
This idea works best for elementary school teachers, but when parents come in to help teachers out, it makes a huge difference. Volunteer to read a story to the class so the teacher can catch up on grading, or come help out with the next class party. Ask the teacher what would be most helpful (if they’re too polite and tell you nothing, don’t take that for an answer!). Every teacher has too much to do and not enough time to do it.
The Bottom Line
Teachers put their heart and soul (and wallet) into their work, but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive to show them that you appreciate what they do. While there are many ways to get creative and have fun with Teacher Appreciation Week, you don’t have to plan something really elaborate or go all out to show teachers your appreciation.