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Get Ready to Show Teachers Some Appreciation

Illustration for article titled Get Ready to Show Teachers Some Appreciation

Photo: Derek Hatfield (Shutterstock)

I’ve always appreciated my son’s teachers, all of whom have been wonderful and have taught him a ton—but this year? Well, we all know this school year has been something else entirely. The amount of patience, planning, flexibility, and troubleshooting required to teach a class of fourth graders on a hybrid schedule has seemed to approach superhuman levels at times.

They have been trying to keep all of our kids academically and socially on track as best they can while also risking their own health or dealing with the impacts the pandemic has had on their personal lives. I’m thinking, in particular, of the couple of weeks my son’s teacher had to quarantine when her own teenage son came down with COVID (and apparently got into the habit of placing late-night doughnut delivery orders from his bedroom).

They deserve our appreciation now more than ever, is what I’m saying, and like every other aspect of our pandemic lives, we might have to get a little creative about how we show it. Teacher Appreciation Week starts on May 3, so now is the time to start planning your show of gratitude.

If you’re still fully virtual

If your child’s class is still learning fully virtually, you might be puzzled as to how to properly show your gratitude beyond a message to them via ClassDojo. But there are some things you can do from home to shower them with appreciation and help make the week special for them. Here are some ideas:

A video thank-you note

We’ve been tired of video chats and video messages for many months now—remember when we were complaining about Zoom fatigue just a few weeks into the school year? But if your child is still fully virtual, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is video. Take a video of your child (or your whole family!) thanking the teacher. If they get nervous or aren’t sure what to say, have them write their message in advance and read their thank-you note to the camera.

A picture of your kid’s artwork

If your child prefers to express their gratitude through art rather than words, have them draw or paint a picture for their teacher—and then send them a picture of it. It’s not the same as being able to hold the original artwork in their hands, but it’s the grateful thought here that counts. (Bonus points if you coordinate with other parents in the classroom to send over one big batch of artwork pictures.)

An e-gift card

My go-to teacher gift tends to be a handwritten note, a sweet treat of some kind, and a gift card to their favorite coffee provider or retail store. Many restaurants and retailers, including lots of local businesses right now, will allow you to send e-gift cards to an email address, and if you can afford it, it would be a nice touch.

A personal note

Little messages from the kids are great, but I also think it’s important for parents to acknowledge their own gratitude for teachers—especially now when any face-to-face contact we might have had during drop-offs, pick-ups, or parent-teacher conferences is on pause. Simply type it up and send it via email or whatever messaging app you typically use to communicate with them.

An item off their wishlist

As I also mentioned around the holidays, teachers often have Amazon wish lists full of supplies and other items they are coveting for their classrooms. Even if they’re not teaching in the classroom right now, there are likely to be supplies and items on there they could put to good use now or in the future. If you’re not sure whether they have an Amazon wish list, you can go here to send them an email directly from the site to ask if they have one and, if so, to share the link. You’ll be able to ship the items directly to them.

They may also have a classroom wish list of books on Scholastic; they can send you a link to that list if you don’t already have it.

If they’re in the classroom

If the kids are in the classroom at least part of the school week, giving a physical gift is going to be a lot easier. The handwritten notes, art, and gift cards are still a good idea, and your kid can hand them the actual hard copy. Steer clear of items like coffee mugs and candles, though. If they’ve been teaching longer than a year, most teachers will say they’ve gotten plenty of these already and would prefer something like a handwritten note or card, or something they already want for the classroom.

But since this past year has taught us all kinds of new ways to celebrate, there is one other way you might celebrate them in person, pandemic-style: With “thank you” yard signs staked into the grass around the school. You can ask the other parents in your child’s class to pitch in and get something like this set of teacher appreciation lawn signs to welcome them in the morning. Just make sure to get permission from the principal before you do this, and take them down yourself at the end of the week.


This article was originally published in 2020 and was updated on April 21, 2021 to reflect current information.


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