May 3rd marks the beginning of National Teacher Appreciation Week and, in a year with challenges unlike any other, it’s the perfect time to recognize faculty and staff with the praise they deserve every day. It’s an opportunity to celebrate and reward our most treasured parenting partners in a special way.
Many of us have had a teacher who was exceptional, who challenged us, encouraged us, and brought out our best. Great teachers help mold our children’s future every day, and that passion inspires their growth academically and personally. Beyond the classroom, the staff who guide our kids through fights with friends, tummy troubles, test anxiety, and remember their allergies at lunch also contribute to a vital school community. Those that care for our schools’ buildings and grounds maintain our spaces and keep our children safe.
Ultimately, these wonderful humans have committed to helping to form our children. While no appreciation can truly reflect the value of this commitment, as parents, we can try! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Survey your child’s teacher (formally or informally) What’s their favorite: snack, restaurant, beverage, flavor, scent, flower, color, pen, hobby, author, etc. Use this information to have your child purchase and share one small gift with his teacher each day of the week. You can collect this information on a printed survey, via a Google Form, any way you like. You can use it for your family, or, better yet, share it with the other parents in your class with a note of encouragement inviting them to join your efforts.
Devote PTO time, effort, and funding to a school-wide appreciation initiative. PTO funds often go directly to instructional materials. This is wonderful, and needed of course, but is a missed opportunity to recognize, celebrate, and boost morale among all staff. After all, our school’s human resources are the most important! Hosting themed days is an easy way to get other parents involved. For example,
The last thing teachers need is another mug full of generic candy! What’s something they can really use that can bring a little warm and fuzzy to each day? Consider working with a local printer to gift fabric masks with your school’s logo, bookmarks with messages of appreciation or inspiration, canvas totes with the same for all the things they haul to and from school each day!
“Thank You!” Tuesday
Distribute note cards or stationery to each student at school with a list of prompts. “My favorite thing about you is….It made me really happy when…I love…The best thing about being in your class is…I’ll never forget…” Be sure that they are sent home with clear instructions and deadlines. Have them work with their family to write a note of gratitude and hand it to their favorite faculty member on “Thank You” Tuesday.
This year has undoubtedly come with extra stress. The demands of the pandemic have added the responsibilities of the safety patrol, remote instruction, and so much more to our teachers all while most of them have their own children at home. We know that exercise and sunshine reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, and yet, there are many barriers to prioritizing wellness. Remove most of the barriers by bringing the opportunity to school. Can you find a yoga instructor or masseuse to donate a few hours to offer a restorative session for the staff throughout the day? Can you work with the school administration to carve out extra time for teachers to take a few laps around the grounds and soak up the sun? Can you make it fun for all by having a contest–by participation, steps, etc.? What can you offer as a “prize” for those that prioritize wellness?
Create a “Share & Release Station” in the copy, mail, or break room. Gather colorful post-its, index cards, and paper. Then, invite team members to write positive notes to share on the wall with colleagues. At the same time, invite them to release one negative thing about the school year by writing it down and then cutting it with shredding shears. These cuttings could be added to your school’s compost, planted in the garden on your campus, or simply added to the shred bin.
Food Truck Friday
A food truck is super fun but it doesn’t have to be this complicated. You get the idea. Organize a lunch for Friday to close out the week. Many local restaurants will work with you by offering deep discounts, flexible delivery options, and creative menus. Restaurant owners have been hit hard this year and most have kids of their own. They need the business and love their teachers. It’s a win/win!
Every day, I see the greatness our teachers inspire in my children (and myself!) I hope you are inspired to write a note of thanks to your favorite teacher today. For all of the extra grace, emotional support, and communication this year; for all of the ways our schools’ faculty and staff go above and beyond every day, let’s celebrate them!