Teacher Appreciation: 5 Things Teachers Want (and 5 They Don’t!)

Teacher Appreciation: 5 Things Teachers Want (and 5 They Don't!)

This first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week.

I am not a teacher.  I do not play one on T.V.  If I were, I would be in jail.

Few professions have my undying respect like educators.  Not only does an educator teach, but they often parent, and advocate for their students and their families.

In doing a project for the teachers at a local school without a PTA (thereby nobody to show them any appreciation) I’ve gotten real clear on things teachers love getting, and things they have too much of.  Much of these things are low-cost or free.

Here are five things your child’s teacher will love:

1.) A sincere “thank you” note or drawing from your child:

Imagine being a teacher/para/school staff member who has pressure upon pressure placed upon them on a daily basis.  They hear what they are doing “wrong” or falling short on, or are made aware of needs their students have.  To know that the time and love they pour out to our kids means something will bless them!  If you need a template, I’ve linked to one for you.

2.) School Supplies:

In talking to my teacher friends, they unanimously said that they would love getting school supplies.  But here’s the tea: they want supplies that they would never buy for themselves.  Educators spend thousands of dollars (of their own money) over the course of their careers on classroom supplies for their students.  They are the farthest down their own list of priorities.  So, what would they buy themselves if they could?  Quality sticky notes, Mr. Sketch markers, Bic Flair Pens, and Sharpie pens will make them happier than a full lunch break and an empty bladder.

3.) Time:

In a non-Covid world where schools can have community members in their buildings, giving a teacher the gift of time is the bee’s knees.  Can you prep activities?  How about taking on recess duty so a teacher can have a hot minute?  Can you help as a room parent?  Educators are stretched thin, giving them back their time will communicate your appreciation for what they do.

4.) Gift Cards:

Coffee, lunch, and grocery gift cards not only show your appreciation in a tangible way, but these luxuries are not always afforded to educators.  Even $5-$10 will give a staff member a little breathing room, much like school supplies, and show your appreciation.  Oh, and don’t forget the note!

5.) Snacks:

Let’s be honest; folks get hangry.  With Covid restrictions in mind, sending pre-packaged snacks or candy for teachers will give them a little oomph to get them through the day. Or how about a little chocolate to get through that meeting that could have been an email?

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the things teachers absolutely do.not.want.ever.in.life because they either a.) have a million of them or b.) are played out.

1.) “Best Teacher” anything (unless it is something hand-made by your student)

2.) Cups, mugs, pencil holders (again, unless they are hand-made by their student):

When I crowdsourced my teachers, this was literally the first thing out of their mouths.  They were drowning in cups.  Just say no.

3.) Lotions and soaps:

It’s not that teachers are not appreciative of the thought behind them, but allergies and preferences have quite a few of these products gathering dust in a drawer.  However, if you know a teacher uses a particular product (if you’ve ever seen their desk or been in the classroom, Covid-notwithstanding, and see it) then replenishing it may be perfectly appropriate.

4.) Makeup, oils, skincare, or whatever MLM you’re involved with:

I know this is controversial, but teacher appreciation is not a sales pitch.  Literally nobody wants this.

5.) Junk:

Apparently, this is a thing.  Similarly, Teacher Appreciation Week is not an opportunity to save a trip to Goodwill.  Did you get a gift you didn’t like?  Chances are your teacher won’t either.  If cost is a consideration, see idea #1.

So there you have it, friends.  Educators are a blessing to our communities and do more to care for their students and their families than most of us will ever know.  If you have an educator in your life (and they’re not just the ones that carry the title of “teacher”), consider showing them some love this week.

With the year they’ve had, I bet they will welcome it.

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Missy is an Arizona native who migrated to Iowa on a whim and fell in love. She is a social worker by profession but stepped away from her career to be a pseudo-SAHM to her two girls: 8 year-old Selah and 2 year-old Mercy. She has been married for 10 wonderful years to her TV man husband, Andy, and Bo, the black lab pound puppy completes their family. Most days you’ll find Missy working part-time at a local non-profit, leading worship, and chasing after her children. In her spare time, she enjoys writing/composing music, connecting with other women who are also in the trenches of life, and finding time to get to the giant pile of laundry in the basement. Missy loves a good laugh, crime documentaries, coffee, and naps. She also writes about overcoming strongholds on her blog: Inching Toward Freedom