Appreciating Teachers

It has been said that what we appreciate, appreciates; I know that when it comes to Teacher Appreciation Week, this adage absolutely rings true. While teaching has its intrinsic rewards, big and small, every single moment of each and every day, it can also be at times lonely and nebulous. A week set aside to affirm and appreciate is an amazing antidote to the every-day stressors that sometimes threaten to overshadow a teacher’s influence and inspiration.


Need a few ideas to let your teachers know how much what they do matters? Check out these ten intriguing appreciations that we’ve savored during my three decades as an educator.


Alphabet Basket: This creative idea assigns a letter of the alphabet to each child in the class and invites them to bring something that begins with that letter. A, for example, might be an apple. B could be a book. C is for cookies. Isn’t this a beautiful cookie bouquet bearing our school family’s core values?


Students, parents, and teachers alike have so much fun with this one.


Pick-Me Bouquet: Each child brings a favorite flower from their garden to make a beautiful bouquet of home-grown goodness. Ask someone to bring a big vase; add a touch of admiration by rolling each child’s thumbprint in paint for a forever-imprint on the vase.


Affirmation Apron: For this project, you’ll need a solid-colored apron that the children’s handprint can be painted on or picture can be iron-transferred on. Let students brainstorm a list of adjectives that describe their teacher and write those on in permanent marker. It’ll make a functional (and fun!) gift for the days when projects involve paint, glitter or lots of glue.


Gift-Card Tree: Teachers spend a lot of their own money to purchase supplies for their classrooms, so this gift will help defray those costs. Find out which stores your teacher frequents and ask for gift cards from those stores. If you’d rather it be a surprise, think Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lakeshore Learning, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, WalMart, Target, even The Dollar Tree. Display them hanging from an artificial tree and a marker that reads: We Are TREEmendously Thankful.


Pamper-Me Outing: Let’s face it; caregivers aren’t always the best at pausing to care for themselves. So why not help them pamper themselves with an outing for a manicure, a pedicure, or a hot-stone massage? Do some digging to see if they already have a favorite salon and send them there for a day of decadent doting.


Rock Around The Clock: Make every hour happy hour with this  fun and slightly different gift idea; assign a time of day to each family and challenge them to bring in something that the teacher would enjoy at that time. Eight o’clock a.m., for example, would be a great time to deliver some pastries from a favorite bakery and their favorite coffee concoction. Eight o’clock p.m.? Maybe a code for a movie from Red Box, some popcorn and a soft drink. Give each time to two or three students so it doesn’t feel like an overwhelming task to appreciate your teachers around the clock.


Dance Party. This idea might be a little tricky because you’ll have to get the class together without the teacher knowing (maybe the PE teacher can help out?) to practice, but it’ll be worth it when you surprise the teacher with a choreographed class dance. Nothing says “We love you!” like a Dance Party. Who’s up for the Floss?


Caped Crusader visual: Invite students to write a My teacher’s superpower is … essay. Make a superhero cape for your teacher and display it on a My Teacher Unleashes the Power of the Cape by … bulletin board. Surround the cape by the students’ written affirmations. Ask them to draw a portrait of their teacher for a super-cool visual addition. At the end of the month, take it down and make a keepsake book for your superhero teacher.


The Gift of Time: Who doesn’t appreciate the gift of time? Offer to cover your teacher’s duty, offer to come and read to the class, offer to watch the students at recess. Bring teachers lunch to take that off of their plate. Or save them time by washing their car or picking up their groceries for the week. Thanking teachers for giving up their time by giving a little time back to them will go a long way as they unwrap that present to refresh and restore.


Donate in the Teacher’s Name: For the teachers who already seem to have everything, find out their favorite charity and make a donation from the class in their honor. If the teacher has a Donors Choose project, there may not be more providential timing than Teacher Appreciation Week to help fund that for his or her classroom. Or purchase books for the school library or core-values banners for the hallway in your teacher’s name.


Your appreciations don’t have to be huge to make a huge impact; click {here} for one teacher’s reflections about Teacher Appreciation Week after savoring her very-first Nothing Bundt cake.


Author and speaker Leo Buscaglia reminds us: Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.


Prepare to absolutely energize your teachers with the power of your affirmations and appreciations to finish strong with another class of children who will remain forever in their hearts and always, always be their students.