10 Tokens of Teacher Appreciation That Aren’t Mugs

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Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers:  excitement for the special surprises from students, parents, administrators, and/or fellow staff members, but also maybe a little remorse. Why can’t the extra special lunch or the pretty carnations delivered in the morning with a fun gift tag be something that happens more often than not?

Everyone likes to feel appreciated and important in their role.  Whether that’s at a job or even at home in the eyes of a spouse or partner.  It keeps us happy and more likely to remain in that role.

The hard work teachers do everyday typically goes unnoticed or at the very least remains a daily status quo.  “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” right?   The general public is pretty quick to scream foul when they see something in a school that is negative, yet, where are the same people when the best teachers are making positive changes on the daily?

Teachers, like anyone else, just want to feel their work is important.

So, my friends, if no one else has told you recently:  Thank you for everything you do for your students.

Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?

What to do for Teacher Appreciation Week:

Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week don’t have to follow themes or be expensive.  In fact, here is a fun idea for teachers this year that is cheap, yet is full of meaning.

For those that would like to head up the committee for what to give teachers for Teacher Appreciation Day or even if you swapped one class period with a colleague and did this activity with his or her students (and he or she did the same with yours), this special something would probably mean more than the donuts in the elementary school staff lounge – and would certainly last longer.

Teacher Appreciation Booklet

Materials:

  • Teacher Appreciation Booklet
  • Cardstock
  • Colored or White Copier Paper
  • Stapler

Directions:

1. Create your own booklet covers and appreciation slips.

Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?
Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?

2. Print the cover(s) on white cardstock.

Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?

3. Print the fill-in-the-blank appreciation slips on white or colored copier paper – print 5-10 copies of each slip.

Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?

4. Lay out the choices for the slips in stacks on a table and allow students to come up in small groups to choose a cover and at least 5 different slips.  They return to their workspace and fill in the pages and cover.

Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?

5. When students are finished, they may use a stapler to staple the cover on top of the slips.  The finished product will be delivered to the teacher recipient(s)!

Teacher Appreciation Week brings with it bittersweet feelings for teachers. Why can't the extra thanks be something that happens more often than not?

10 things teachers want every day and not just one week out of the year:

When you are thinking about what teachers really want for teacher appreciation gifts beyond the cute  “Best Teacher” mug, start here.

Spreading appreciation all throughout the year whether you are a parent, a community member, an administrator, or even a colleague, can do wonders for staff retention and a strong sense of loyalty, which in turn only strengthens job satisfaction.  Paying attention to this small detail can make the difference between teachers who are flocking TO or FROM the school building.

1.  Respect

Respect must be given freely and without strings attached.  Teachers want to be respected for the very important work they do in educating our future.  Not to mention, all the additional 146 other roles they fill to meet the needs of their students.

2.  Paid for their expertise

Degreed professionals are typically paid handsomely for their services and even work regular office hours.  When they aren’t on the clock, they have very separate personal lives.

This cannot be said of all teachers in all areas.  Many are barely getting by, trying to squeak through the end of the month with whatever small amount of a paycheck is leftover after paying normal bills and repaying student loans (which may have been necessary to secure the required degree to land the job).

Not to mention, if he or she wants to continue on the career path, most states are now requiring graduate  degrees, which equate to even more in loans.  Not to mention the exorbitant fees and hoops to jump through just to renew the certifications.

I won’t even mention how many hours after contract hours teachers work.  And yes, even during the summer they are attending more inservice trainings and meeting with colleagues to plan curriculum after the district adopts yet another new textbook series which now has to have new corresponding resources created from scratch.

3.  Trust

The current education climate involves questioning pretty much everything an educator does or says.  Unless there is a reason for not trusting a teacher, trust should be given freely and immediately.  They do not take this role lightly.

4.  Standing WITH teachers as a team to educate children

In a teacher’s dream world, there should be very little student vs. teacher vs. parent.  Teachers want students to learn.  Parents want students to learn.  Students might not want to learn, but teachers and parents can work together as a unified front to find ways of educating the child so that he or she does want to learn.

5.  Celebrations of the student growth that is taking place in classroom every day (and not just on paper)

Many policymakers seem to agree that more assessments will make sure our teacher workforce is performing at satisfactory levels, yet no other profession’s effectiveness is based on their customer’s outcome.  A customer in which he or she has no control over.

Doctors can choose to send a patient to another doctor if he feels he is not qualified to treat them.

Business owners can choose to not take on a new client based on the preliminary data.

Banks can refuse to fund a loan based on pretty much anything.

Even a fast food restaurant can refuse to serve customers if they don’t meet basic clothing or hygiene guidelines.

Teachers get zero say in who their “customers” are, yet they are assessed on the outcome regardless.  And while teachers won’t complain about the unique and individual needs of all 20-30+ bodies in their classroom, they would love nothing more than to be celebrated all throughout the year when they are able to teach a child to count to 10, stand up for others’ against bullies, think outside the box to be creative, be kind, be generous, and even know how to tie their own shoes.

These are the things we should be celebrating teacher appreciation for regularly and not just one time of year.

6.  Random acts of appreciation throughout the school year

While just getting some recognition for a job well done would mean the world and something any teacher will love, if someone is really stuck and just needs to give something tangible, filling the staff lounge with crockpots of soup for lunch or printing something positive about the staff in the newspaper “just because” will never be frowned upon.

7.  Donations of classroom supplies, money, or time – or a combination of all 3

Many teachers don’t have extra classroom funds.  In fact, many teachers have zero classroom budgets and are given a room with desks and told to figure it out.  I personally know of teachers who have had to go to the public library on their own time – to check out hundreds of children’s books at one time just to have something for students to read.  Not to mention when a student loses the that book.  Guess who pays for it now?

Donations of classroom school supplies, gift cards, or even time if tangible donations aren’t possible are a way to say thanks throughout the year.

A practical teacher gift such as dry erase markers can even be given with a small free printable gift card holder and is super thoughtful.  Not to mention super popular!

8.  Volunteers who ask how they can help

There are tons of ways parents and caregivers can get involved in the classroom, even if they work.  Roles that can be done from home can help more than you think.  Teachers want to feel supported.  Not to mention, they want to feel connected to you and your child.  By being available, that bond is strengthened and everyone benefits.

Think about having a crew come in to school after all staff has left and put up door decorations for every staff member in the building.  Imagine the smiles from teachers walking in the door the following day.  That would be something wonderful to see.

9.  Caregivers who take time outside of school to model how important learning is 

For teachers, this is hugely important.  When non-educators stress how important education is – the world suddenly becomes aware how important an educator’s role really is.  When parents are reading and creating recipes together, that is wonderful.  Grocery store clerks are explaining unit pricing to students and challenging them to do the math.  Or a person in line for the roller coaster at the amusement park is talking about engineering and physics to the students who are nearby.

Learning should never stop.  When caregivers are modeling that outside of the classroom walls, it becomes second nature.  That is when teachers feel proud of their profession.

10.  Chocolate.  Chocolate is always good.

I’m not sure this one needs more explanation.

Whether you are celebrating teachers on the official Teacher Appreciation Day holiday or on a random Tuesday in January, this super easy Teacher Appreciation Booklet will make any teacher smile.  Knowing you were the person in charge of helping to make that smile happen creates a domino effect.

Making someone else feel wonderful, makes you feel wonderful as well.

Thanks for all you do teachers and feel free to add your additional Teacher Appreciation gift wishes in the comments below too!

~Charity

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