Every May we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. This week-long celebration is to honor the contribution that educators make in all of our lives. Teachers selflessly work long hours for little pay and devote their lives to motivating, loving, and inspiring our children. So, we should definitely buy them gifts and participate in a week’s worth of celebrating, right? Maybe not…hear me out on this.
We all know teachers do an almost impossible job every day, putting up with so much more than they should have to while taking care of the treasure we value most in life. We want to show them we appreciate all that hard work, so we dedicate one week to showering them with their favorite treats, gift cards, and flowers (often times specifically assigned to us by our well-meaning PTO’s)! Sometimes this week seems like a chore for us parents who are barely getting by in the last month of the school year weeds. We’re keeping track of so much in our kids’ lives and now we have to remember to bring in a single carnation with a pre-printed label attached to it by Tuesday? Ain’t nobody got time for that! Plus, is this even the best way to show our teachers we appreciate them?!
You see, I was a teacher before I had my own kids. I’ve been on the other side of this dynamic, and while I loved a sweet gift from my students and their families (they were a rare occasion in the Title 1 schools I worked in), there were so many other ways that parents showed me that they appreciated my hard work throughout the school year. As a mom, I see the time and effort that my sons’ teachers put into them, and I want to honor that, but I don’t think one week of planned out gifts is necessarily the best way to go. If you really want to show your child’s teacher that you appreciate them, try these ideas all year long. No need to wait until May…
Sign the Papers
Teachers are juggling a million things every day. One simple way you can make their lives easier is to sign all the things- initial the daily folder/agenda, turn in the permission slip on day 1, return that report card right away, sign the conference request paper. Don’t make them hound you down. Your teacher will thank you!
Bring Your Kids’ Teachers Food
Teachers love to eat, and not just during Teacher Appreciation Week. If you’re stopping for doughnuts on the way to school, pick one up for them. If you’re surprising your child with lunch from Chick-fil-A, get some dang nuggets for his teacher — she never gets to leave school for lunch!
Ask What They Need
Often times supplies run short throughout the school year. Some teachers are great about asking parents to send in donations, but others feel funny about it. Randomly ask your teacher what they are running low on. It makes such a difference come mid-February when teachers are telling kids to use a paper towel to blow their noses because they ran out of tissues last month.
Show Some Grace
We are not perfect at our jobs as parents, so we need to understand that teachers will not always get it right at theirs. If it takes a little too long to get an email response, the math homework is missing the directions page, or they only gave you a week notice for a big project, be understanding. It’s an overwhelming job with very little room for mistakes. If we as parents can cut them a little slack sometimes, they will feel appreciated.
Give the Gift of Praise
One of the best ways to show a teacher that you appreciate him or her is to tell them about the difference they made in your child’s life. This does not have to only occur in May! It can be a quick email to let them know you noticed your daughter finally learned her multiplication facts. Or, a small note thanking them for choosing your child to be the student of the week. Teachers share in our joy when our children succeed — acknowledge that their hard work is the reason our children are succeeding!
You can still buy the gifts…
Please don’t take this post as an excuse to not participate in Teacher Appreciation Week. All those little gifts that PTO has requested that you send in Monday-Friday are really meaningful to your child’s teacher. You’d be hard-pressed to find a teacher who wouldn’t want that Target gift card! However, don’t let this week be the only week you show your teacher some love. And, if you’ve been doing little things throughout the year to show appreciation to that hard-working teacher, she’s not going to notice if you forgot to send in the “You’re All that and a Bag of Chips” snack on Thursday or the “You’re the SWEETEST!” candy on Friday. She’ll have felt that love all year long and that is the best way to appreciate our amazing teachers!