8 Year-Round Teacher Appreciation Ideas
By: Tim Sullivan of PTO Today
In the world of parent volunteering, teacher appreciation looms big and often causes stress for parents hoping to do it perfectly. After all, there’s a whole week devoted to teacher appreciation in May. That’s a tall order to fill.
But don’t let teacher appreciation overwhelm you. There are really just two key things to remember: First, teachers don’t expect expensive gifts. Often, they are happier when given a simple, but genuinely expressed, thank-you. And second, appreciating teachers in small ways throughout the year is often much more effective than a big show only during Teacher Appreciation Week in May.
And that year-round appreciatin’ doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some suggestions:
- Collect teacher data. When the school year starts, ask teachers to fill out a survey of their likes and dislikes, such as their favorite snacks or restaurants or type of coffee. You can use this information to personalize special treats throughout the year. Homemade muffins or a small cash gift card for a morning Starbucks run can go a long way.
- Lighten their loads. While coffee mugs and picture frames are nice, teachers really love the gift of time. Give teachers “get out of recess duty’’ coupons that provide them with catch-up time while a parent volunteer covers on the playground.
- Help make their jobs easier. Another big time-saver is TeacherLists.com. Help your teachers get their classroom wish lists up on the site, then share the class webpages with all of this year’s parents. Teachers simply don’t need any more ceramic apples, but they love getting the classroom and teaching supplies that can help them in their jobs. Think of giving a painter new brushes, and you can see why TeacherLists.com—and getting those wish lists filled by parents—is such a great tool for teachers.
- Remember birthdays. Get a list of teacher birthdays from the school secretary. Drop birthday cards in their mailboxes on their special day.
- Get students involved. Have students express their appreciation to teachers on special holidays, like Valentine’s Day. Also, consider a special project, such as a student-created book of poetry, as an end-of-the-year gift.
- Give them public recognition. Create a “teacher of the week’’ section on a school bulletin board and school web site. Feature a teacher’s photo along with interesting information about them. You may need to get a fellow teacher to assist so you can display things like family pictures, notes about hobbies, and other fun facts.
- Plan early for Teacher Appreciation Week. Start planning in March so you can come up with creative—and economical—ways to celebrate this week. We love surprise services for teachers, like washing their cars in the parking lot or 15-minute chair massages in the faculty room.
- Try a themed celebration. If you go with a theme (like a week at the beach or a luau), it’s usually easier to find and give small, inexpensive gifts throughout the week. You can cap off the week with a breakfast or lunch. If you plan ahead, you might get a local restaurant to provide the food or at least cover a portion of your costs.
About the Author:
Tim Sullivan is the founder of School Family Media, the parent company of both PTO Today and TeacherLists.com. Tim is a frequent commentator (and monthly columnist) on parent involvement in schools and the key role played by school PTOs and PTAs. Sign up for Tim’s weekly involvement tips on the www.ptotoday.com homepage. Follow Tim on Twitter (@TimPTO) and follow TeacherLists on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teacherlists