photo courtesy of msr on Flickr

Across the country, many teachers are arriving to work to find banners that say “We Appreciate You,” continental breakfasts laid out in the staff lounge, and “Thank You” cards placed in their mailboxes.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really been ‘into’ Teacher Appreciation Week.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate being appreciated. What I don’t get is the shallow outpouring of Hallmark-style “Thank You’s” that, while a thoughtful gesture, do not really make me feel ‘appreciated.’

Here are some of my thoughts on how to make teachers feel truly appreciated:

  • Have students write letters to their teacher on any random day–maybe when s/he is out sick, or maybe through a publicly placed dropbox for “Letters to My Teacher.”
  • Give teachers a voice in the school—let teachers run events and be involved in planning for instructional and non-instructional initiatives.
  • Give teachers time to collaborate with their peers in meaningful ways, whether that means through structured meetings or peer observations.
  • Ensure that teachers have enough planning time to be prepared for high-quality instruction and assessment.
  • When something new is coming down the line, give teachers plenty of notice to prepare, clarify expectations and ask questions.
  • Trust teachers to be professionals and let their strengths shine every day.
  • Highlight amazing things going on in teachers’ classrooms and share them with the rest of the staff on at least a weekly basis.

As the old adage goes, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Everyone loves a table of goodies and coffee and card, but it’s the actions we do on a regular basis that really make people feel appreciated.

That said, to all of my colleagues out there, I appreciate the hard work that you do, the resources and advice that you share every day and the many times you have helped me get through a tough day and made me smile.

Keep shining!

3 Thoughts on “Thoughts on Teacher Appreciation Week”

  • Hi, Mary Beth –
    I found your blog via Edutopia (via Accomplished Teacher). Great stuff! I am a NBCT elementary school teacher (veteran of 20+ years) and new to the “blogosphere”. I would like to get involved – I am currently working on my doctorate in “Teaching and Learning” while still in the classroom and feel a blog would be a great place to connect with others and keep myself up to date while connecting and commenting on research with practical experience in this sometimes “crazy” world of public ed.

    Given your background and experience, perhaps you could give me some tips on how to get started? Is it possible to approach an established blog, such as, Edutopia, with one’s professional resume in order to start blogging or does one have to have blogging experience first? And if so, what do you suggest for starting up? I would be grateful for any suggestions you could give a neophyte like myself . . .

    Again, thanks for your time and above all,for your thoughts and ideas on your blog – lots of food for thought!

    Best,
    Leslie Young
    Anaheim City School District
    Anaheim, California
    leslie.young@cgu.edu

    P.S. By the way, for Teacher Appreciation Week, this year I sent a letter to all the parents of my students to no longer give me gifts, but instead contribute to a classroom fund through donations on our wish list or with any amount of cash/check. No more coffee mugs or scarves . . . we now have new games for rainy days and I was able to buy some supplies for the students. For the students in the low socio-economic schools I taught in, the parents always cooked the teachers a wonderful lunch – their way of saying “thank you” – as for what the administrators do, more empowerment for us is ALWAYS welcome!! 🙂

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