Teacher Appreciation Ideas
While everyone had to make major adjustments in 2020, teachers also faced a lot of challenges. Regardless of what was going on in their own personal lives, they had to quickly pivot from in-person to online educating, and make that change without any kind of previous training or preparation. They’ve had to learn all the new software, try to keep their students’ attention while teaching over the internet, plus support the kids and parents who were also going through major life adjustments. So with all that in mind, what’s the best way to show the teachers in our lives that we appreciate them? We asked teachers of elementary, middle, and high school students for advice on how you can show support and basic teacher appreciation to them right now:
Learn the Systems
Your school may be using Google Classroom or any number of ed-tech sites right now — learn how to navigate it. You’ll be able to find assignments, reports, and whatever you need to know to make sure your child is on track with their lessons.
“Please learn to navigate whatever platform your child’s teacher is using,” said Joe C., an elementary school teacher. “You can easily check and see if your child has missing assignments with just a few clicks. This will save you the surprise of a poor report, and free up the busy teacher from answering a question you could answer yourself.”
Have Patience & Don’t Get Defensive
Though everyone has had time to adjust to online education at this point, many people are still feeling stress and anxiety and with that, patience can run thin. It’s important to remember your teachers are also human, going through the same things you are in their own lives, so offer them the support they need to do their jobs.
“I wish all parents could support us when we try to talk to them about their child’s performance,” said Melissa G., a middle school teacher. “Things are hard for everyone and there is no reason to be defensive if we have some concerns about the student — no one thinks you are a bad parent or not trying your best. Have grace for me, you and your kid, and support me when I’m trying to help your child. Hear the teacher’s side before accusing us of not doing our jobs. Get your kid to say thank you — that’s honestly the best.”
When it comes to having your child say thank you to their teachers, you may not realize how far a simple gesture of appreciation goes to making a stressed-out teacher feel like their time and efforts have made a difference.
“Right now, just some positive recognition of the work we are doing would be a refreshing breath of fresh air to balance all of the criticism of systems and processes we cannot control,” said Valerie Y, a high school teacher.
While teachers definitely appreciate the occasional gift card or sweet treat, many of them said that more than anything, a heartfelt thank you matters to them most.
“A handwritten thank you card or even an email makes a big difference for my morale,” said middle school teacher Angeleah D. ”I have a bulletin board to put the cards on and then I move them to a file folder once it’s full. These messages mean way more than anything else.”
Angeleah also offered the following piece of advice: “What is really helpful is sending positive messages about teachers into public spaces. Write an editorial, send an email to principals and school boards. Write or call your Congress and representatives. Let them know we are doing a worthwhile thing.”
Respond to Emails
Respect a teacher’s time by responding to emails quickly, even if it’s just a quick acknowledgment that you have received the information and understand it. Teachers spend a lot of time outside of class hours taking care of administrative tasks, and if they have to call you to make sure you got an important email when you could have quickly replied, it’s a waste of time they could be spending on lesson plans or just relaxing after a long day.
In the end, showing support to your teacher isn’t time-consuming or difficult.
“I don’t need gifts,” said high school teacher Anne D. “Just say ‘thank you’, read and answer emails, and be patient — we’re often the last ones to know what’s going on — and understand that we’re trying to navigate the COVID crazy world too.”