Teacher appreciation week rolls around at a perfect time every school year. May is typically full of fun and craziness, so teachers deserve appreciation this month more than any other time of the year—although they really need to be appreciated year round!
It can be hard to find something that tells a teacher how much they mean to you. By the end of the school year, strong bonds and relationships have been formed in the classroom, so it is important to show gratitude. And another apple for the teacher’s desk just doesn’t cut it!
Here are some ways that administrators, principals, school boards, school unions, PTOs, and students can show how much they love their teachers:
If you have some time:
- A photo album of the school year is a great idea if you have some time to put one together. Shutterfly and other online picture-producing sites have lots of easy and inexpensive ways to make memory books that are printed in color and bound.
- Organizing something as a class or a school is a great idea, too. This takes some prior planning depending on how elaborate you want to get—I have literally “rolled out the red carpet” for our teachers before! It was a lot of fun, but getting all the kids involved and keeping it a secret took some effort.
If you have some funds:
- If there was a class collection or you would like to spend a little bit of money on the teacher, a gift card is a great idea. I know it sounds boring and a little impersonal, but teachers spend a ton of their own money on their students every year, so to give a little bit of that back is a very kind gesture. Amazon is a great idea because there are so many options.
- Some other good ideas that I have seen this year are practical things that lots of teachers use all the time. The large insulated cups from Yeti or other places are good gifts—it feels like you can never have enough of those! Also, since teachers have some free time during the summer, something for an activity is a good option. Tickets to the movies, the zoo, a show, or a play are all great ideas.
If you want it to mean something:
- Some of the best, and most memorable, gifts I received as a teacher was a letter or note from a student—regardless of the age, this is a great gift. Parents can help to guide the process to make sure it comes from the heart and makes the teacher’s day. This can also be expanded into something more than a letter, like a homemade card, picture frame, or something else creative.
- Any project that connects back to something learned during the school year is a wonderful idea. A student-produced “look back at our learning” is not only a cool project, it also gives great feedback to the teacher about what really “stuck” with the student that year. This is a great idea for a parent to be part of to see all the learning that took place.
If you want to individualize and personalize:
- Teacher have lots of stuff. Thirty-One bags are popular and very practical for a teacher. These can also be monogrammed or personalized, which gives the gift that extra personal touch.
- Another good idea is anything that happens to coincide with the grade level or subject they teach. Shirts like “Fifth Grade Rocks” or “The Elements of a Great Science Teacher” are very popular. These are nice and show that you put some thought into personalizing the gift.
Here are some things I would NOT recommend getting for a teacher:
- Candy, soda, and the like: Sometimes our kids come home from school and say, “Mrs. Smith LOVES Dr. Pepper—she drinks it all the time!” Even though this does show how well your kids know their teachers, to highlight their vices may not be the most supportive thing we can do for them. I would steer clear of gifting this sort of thing.
- Books (unless asked for): Teachers’ lives are full of books—and for most of them, one more isn’t what they want for over the summer. If the teacher has requested something, that is one thing, but for a teacher appreciation present, I would stay away from books. Let them read what they want over summer.
Hopefully this list can get you started with some ideas for how to show the teachers in your life how much you appreciate them. Do you have any other suggestions? Or have you received any teacher appreciation gifts that were really special to you? Let us know in the comments below!