Teachers have some of the hardest jobs out there — having to wrangle upwards of 30 little kids while spoon-feeding their brains with all the information they’re going to need to be successful and productive adults. While teachers should definitely be appreciated every single week of the year, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. If you’re looking for a way to show your appreciation for the teachers in your children’s life or just show your appreciation for teachers everywhere, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Apples for Teacher
An apple has been the symbol for teachers for hundreds of years, dating back to the 19th century when poor families would barter food or other items in exchange for their children’s education. While we’re not suggesting buying a bushel of apples for your favorite teachers, an apple themed gift could be a great way to show your appreciation. A few ideas:
- Typography art — Use the student’s names to form the shape of an apple. Make sure you include the school year at the bottom.
- Totes — There’s nothing worse than carting books and papers back and forth by hand. Totes decorated with apples can show your appreciation while providing a useful tool.
There are plenty of other apple-inspired ideas out there — this is just to get you started.
Organize a Teacher Day
Teachers are the kings and queens of organizing events for hundreds of students, but no one ever seems to take the time or organize a day just for them. Try organizing a Teacher Appreciation Festival, complete with games, food and even a dunk booth where students can volunteer to be dunked by their favorite teachers.
De-Stress During Lunch
Teaching can be stressful, so why not provide a way for your teachers to de-stress during their planning periods or lunch breaks? Contact a few local spas and see if you can pay for massage therapists to set up a lunch break spa where teachers can get massages, facials or manicure/pedicures on their breaks — free of charge, of course. There’s nothing more relaxing than a massage, especially when you’ve had a rough day.
Assist With Caffeine Intake
A teacher’s lounge isn’t a teacher’s lounge without a coffee maker and the sleep deprived teachers surrounding it while they wait for the next pot to brew. A great idea for teacher appreciation week is to take up a collection to either supply the lounge’s existing coffee maker or to upgrade it to something better. Some schools have upgraded to a Keurig or similar single-pod coffee maker, relying on the PTO to supply coffee pods for the teachers. It might be a good option for your school too!
Include All the Schools
Too often, big teacher appreciation celebrations focus on the community’s public schools. While they might make up a big portion of the school community, they aren’t the only teachers who need some appreciation. If you’re organizing a big to-do for teacher appreciation week, reach out to all the private schools, charter schools, Montessori schools and other special programs in your area.
Don’t Leave out the Students
While we appreciate teachers as the people who impart knowledge on our children, no one really appreciates them more than the children themselves — even if they have a hard time articulating it. Get them involved in your planning. A few ideas to consider might include:
- A scrapbook — Have each teacher’s class make a scrapbook of the things they’ve done during the year. Include pictures, dates and projects.
- Baskets or buckets — Students can put together fruit baskets, snack baskets or buckets of school supplies for the teachers to use in the coming years.
- Tools of the trade — Make a gift of red pens, post-it notes or other things your favorite teachers use every day and inevitably run out of.
- Throw a party for the teachers — Kids are used to their teachers planning parties for them. Turn the tables and let the kids plan a party for their teachers.
Ask your kids for ideas — you’ll be surprised how creative they can be when they want to do something nice for a teacher they really like.
Car Wash Wonderland
Washing your car can be a pain, especially when you’ve got papers to grade and students to keep up with — when do you find the time? To show your appreciation for your local teachers, especially during warmer months or in the spring after all the trees and plants start shedding their pollen, put together a free car wash for teachers and faculty. Call your local auto parts store to see if you can get any of them to donate buckets, sponges and car wash soap, find a few spare hoses, and you’re good to go. Get the kids involved too — high schoolers can reach high enough to wash the cars while younger elementary kids can scrub tires and other parts of the car lower to the ground.
Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
When it comes down to it, while all the gifts and trinkets are great, what teachers need most is money for supplies that can be put back into their classrooms. Gift cards to office supply stores are a great way to do this. If you’ve got a Costco in your area, stock up on Costco gift cards — you can get markers, pencils and other supplies in bulk, and you don’t have to have a Costco membership to use a gift card. Teachers are the shepherds of future generations of thinkers and artists and doers. We should appreciate them every single day of the year, but if you need a week to schedule your appreciation in, then make sure you go all out to show these amazing individuals how much they mean to each and every one of those students and their parents. After all, where would we be without teachers?