Six Ways to Appreciate Educators All Year Long

Why, and how, parents should appreciate teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week and all year.

By Jen Lilienstein


So often, we hear media reports about the negative aspects of teaching and forget that teachers are the people who have made our children's collective future their life's work. The next time you are frustrated with our education system consider the following:

Jamie Vollmer has put together an outstanding list of the ever-increasing burden on America's teachers and schools. The next time you're lamenting what's not covered between bells, consider all of the burdens that schools have lifted from parents' shoulders over the past century and taken on themselves.

Harvard and Columbia released a longitudinal study in 2012 that tracked 2.5 million students over the past 20 years. The result? On average, having a quality educator for just one year raises a child's cumulative lifetime income by $50,000. This means that a quality instructor that dedicates twenty years of her life to teaching twenty pupils per year, will make a positive financial impact of $20,000,000 on your community and our society.

This RAND Corporation PDF highlights the fact that when it comes to student performance on reading and math tests, an instructor is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership.

Convinced, or reminded, how much educators deserve to be celebrated? Read on...

How To Celebrate The Special Teachers in Your Life

  1. Leave the latte for another time. Educators are often showered with Starbucks gift cards this time of year, which can be great fun. However, even more exciting for both the gift recipient and the gift giver is a surprise Starbucks at another time of year—like during the fall quarter. Just ask what his favorite coffee drink is on the first day of school, and unexpectedly make his morning sometime mid-quarter.
  2. Have your pupils make a Wordle. Brainstorm kind words that describe the educator. Want a jumping off point? Try this site for words that describe different strengths of character. Once you've compiled a list, upload it to Wordle, then choose fonts, layouts and colors that your child will find appealing. Finally, print your Wordle out on a color printer or save it as a JPEG and send it to your local drug store's photo department to print at a standard photo size. Extra credit: frame the Wordle with your child's name and the year on the back of the image.
  3. Send “just because” notes during the year. Don't just leave communication for parent-teacher conferences or when your student is having issues. Let the teacher know what he is doing right all year long. If your pupil comes home excited about an assignment, let him know. If your child mentions something special he did during the day, let him know. Keep an attitude of gratitude going all year long. He will be grateful you did.
  4. Make sure you are communicating with the instructor in the way he prefers. Just as parents have an individual preference for phone calls, texts, e-mails, or notes, educators do, too. At the beginning of the school year, ask teachers for their preferred method of communication. During the year, honor that preference. Bonus: you'll probably get more timely responses by using the preferred communications channel.
  5. Give teachers shout-outs on social media. Let your kids' teachers know how much you appreciate them with shout-outs on your favorite social media platforms during Teacher Appreciation Week. If the school's principal has a social media account, be sure to tag him on the messages so they see the kudos, too. The most commonly used hashtag on Twitter last year during Teacher Appreciation Week was #TeacherAppreciation.
  6. Don't just focus on this year's instructors. If a former educator made a positive impact on someone's life, say thank you again. Just like parenting, teaching can also be a virtually thankless profession, so be sure to reach out to former instructors this week, as well. Whether it's a note, e-mail, or text, just a few words of gratitude can make a teacher's day. Extra credit: get your scholar to pen a note of gratitude.

Additional Lesson Planet Resources:

Student Opinion Piece (7-12 grades)

This online resource is composed of a writing sample about teacher appreciation and a writing prompt for learners. After completing this journal activity, have pupils post their responses on the New York Times' Learning Network webpage or send them to your local paper.

Foundations for Life Persuasive Essay (1-3 grades)

Primary writers select a quote from a famous person, then they write a persuasive essay about how it relates to one of their favorite instructors. In the end, they will submit their essays to the Foundations for Life website. Resource links are included.

The Art of Teaching (K-8 grades)

Pupils will design a card and discuss ways to show appreciation. This activity is designed to be incorporated into an art class. Resource links are included.