Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week: How to Get Involved

Every year, the first full week of May marks Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States. It's a time to celebrate and thank educators for their priceless contributions while shaping young lives. 

The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) established this week-long observance in 1984. Teach Appreciation Week is a chance to recognize teachers' dedication, hard work, and impact on their students as they nurture a lifelong love for learning and create a supportive educational environment.

Teacher Appreciation Week also provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of investing in education and ensuring our amazing teachers receive the support they need for professional development and growth. 

One teacher said, "Our passion for teaching is fueled by the love and encouragement we receive from our students and their families." 

Read on to learn more about this observance and how to participate in various activities, events, and gestures of appreciation for our teachers.

Featured in: May - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

Teacher Appreciation Week’s History and Background

A teachers and class
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

Teacher Appreciation Week has its roots in the early 1950s when Eleanor Roosevelt, an ardent advocate for education and former First Lady, persuaded Congress to establish a National Teacher Appreciation Day. 

However, it took until 1984 for the National Parent Teacher Association (National PTA) to officially designate the first whole week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week. This annual event honored teachers' dedication and hard work throughout the United States, recognizing their indispensable impact on students' lives.

Initially, on March 7, 1980, people celebrated National Teacher Day, but it was later moved to May to align with the week-long observance. 

Over the years, the National Education Association (NEA) and its affiliates have been instrumental in promoting and organizing events for Teacher Appreciation Week. 

Each year, the week features different campaigns and themes, such as "Thank a Teacher" and "Teachers Deliver," which express gratitude and highlight educators' tireless efforts. In 2023, the theme is “Teachers Drive the Future.”

As Teacher Appreciation Week gained popularity, it drew support from various organizations, businesses, and distinguished figures. Former US Presidents have even issued proclamations backing this significant celebration, demonstrating the importance of recognizing the nation’s teachers on a national level. 

The Cause and Its Challenges

Teacher and 2 students
Photo by Nery Montenegro on Unsplash

Teacher Appreciation Week celebrates teachers' dedication, while it's also important to acknowledge the numerous and often overlooked professional and personal challenges they face.

One hurdle teachers frequently encounter is low pay2, which affects both their financial stability and job satisfaction. It's not uncommon for educators to work over 50 hours a week, pouring their hearts into crafting the best possible learning experiences for their students. 

Most teachers put tremendous effort into creating lesson plans, coming up with ideas to make the classroom more engaging, and of course, all those hours grading. Coupled with a lack of resources and support in public schools and the constant pressure to improve student performance, stress, and anxiety levels can soar. This contributes to the troubling teacher turnover rate, ultimately impacting the quality of education our schools deliver.

Another area where teachers grapple with is professional development. As classrooms become increasingly diverse, educators must receive ongoing training that equips them to address their students' unique needs. 

Regrettably, many teachers have limited opportunities to grow professionally, making adapting to new teaching methods and strategies challenging. So this week, let us celebrate teachers and take the time to consider how much they do for us and our kids. 

5 Important Facts About Teachers

  • The National Education Association reports a striking fact: teachers spend an average of $459 from their own pockets on classroom supplies each year. This demonstrates their dedication and highlights the financial challenges they face in their roles. 
  • With an alarming teacher shortage in the United States, attracting and retaining qualified educators is crucial. The NEA estimates approximately 300,000 teacher and supporting staff shortages. 
  • Research from economist Raj Chetty reveals that effective teachers1 can boost a student's lifetime earnings by an impressive $250,000. This further underscores the value of appreciating and supporting our educators. 
  • It's disheartening that nearly 50% of teachers consider leaving the profession within five years, as found in a National Center for Education Statistics survey. Reasons cited include low pay, lack of support, and poor working conditions. This statistic drives home the importance of expressing appreciation and support for educators. 
  • Lastly, it's essential to recognize that teacher appreciation and recognition can improve job satisfaction3, retention rates, and student outcomes.

Efforts and Initiatives

Around the world, countless organizations and communities put their hearts into celebrating and supporting the invaluable role of teachers. 

Take UNESCO's World Teachers' Day, for instance. Held on October 5th each year, this worldwide event focuses on expressing gratitude, assessing, and enhancing educators' conditions, all while shining a light on their immense contributions to society. UNESCO's initiative has caught the world's eye, inspiring governments and educational institutions to invest in teacher development and recognize teachers' profound impact on future generations.

Social media, too, has become a potent force for promoting teacher appreciation initiatives in recent years. Campaigns like #ThankATeacher and #TeacherAppreciationWeek are gaining traction. These social media movements heighten awareness about teachers' importance and cultivate strong, positive bonds between educators, students, and their families.

On a local level, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) are pivotal in orchestrating Teacher Appreciation Week events. Likewise, programs like "Adopt a Classroom" allow individuals and businesses to support teachers by bankrolling classroom projects and supplying essential materials. 

One teacher said, "Seeing the community come together to support our efforts is incredibly heartwarming and motivating." These collective endeavors showcase local and global communities' critical role in cherishing and backing teachers.

How to Support Teachers and Schools this Awareness Week

Teacher Appreciation Week is the perfect occasion to honor the exceptional educators who've touched our lives. You can join the celebration and make a real impact by showing gratitude, spreading awareness, volunteering, or fundraising.

Moreover, let's remember the importance of raising awareness about teachers' daily challenges. Share articles, videos, and other social media resources to emphasize teacher appreciation's value. Attend educational events or forums that discuss pressing issues such as limited resources and funding. Educating yourself and your network contribute to a more informed conversation about educators' needs.

Finally, consider offering hands-on support to the cause. Volunteering in your local school can make a tangible difference – whether you're tutoring, organizing events, or providing classroom help. 

Alternatively, you could launch a school supply drive or set up a crowdfunding campaign to support underfunded schools. Your active involvement in these initiatives will help create better educational environments for teachers and students.

With these actions, you can participate in Teacher Appreciation Week in a way that truly matters. Remember, the combined efforts of individuals like you make all the difference for the educators who inspire us to learn and grow.

18 Ways to Show Your Appreciation for Teachers During Teachers Awareness Week

Teaching english
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko.

All teachers deserve recognition this week in May. Whether your child’s teacher or otherwise, the following are easy-to-do acts of recognition we can all do. From simple gift ideas to school supplies contributions, see what appeals to you the most and make teachers feel special this May. 

Handwritten Notes and Cards

1. Write a heartfelt thank-you note for their hard work and dedication.
2. Create a colorful drawing or card that conveys appreciation for specific things the teacher has done.
3. Parents can write a letter on behalf of younger students, sharing stories of their child's growth and progress due to the teacher's efforts.

Classroom Contributions

1. Volunteer to help in the classroom during Teachers Awareness Week.
2. Donate school supplies such as tissues, hand sanitizer, markers, or other materials teachers need throughout the year.
3. Coordinate a classroom clean-up to give their learning environment a fresh, tidy feel.

Thoughtful Gifts

1. Give a small potted plant or bouquet of flowers to brighten their day.
2. Prepare a homemade treat or bring in a favorite snack for the teacher to enjoy during their break.
3. Create a personalized gift, like a photo album or decorated ceramic mug featuring artwork or a message from the student. A massage therapist voucher is also a great idea.

Public Recognition

1. Share words of appreciation on social media, with the school's Facebook page or Instagram, tagging the teacher and providing specific examples of their impact. Invite past students or community members to join in and share the messages. 
2. Write positive reviews for the teacher on websites that evaluate and provide feedback on educational professionals.
3. Submit a letter to the local newspaper explaining why your teacher goes above and beyond to help their students succeed.

Organize Special Events

1. Plan a surprise party or coffee break in the teacher's lounge to give them a moment of relaxation and recognition.
2. Coordinate a potluck-style lunch, where parents bring in dishes to feed the entire staff as a sign of appreciation from the community.
3. Work with the school administration and students to host a small awards ceremony where teachers are honored for their hard work and contributions to the school.

Acts of Kindness

1. Offer to cover a before or after-school duty so the teacher can have a few extra minutes to themselves.
2. Leave a small surprise, like a funny note, tiny treat, or decorative item, on their desk to make them smile throughout the day.
3. Record a video featuring their students sharing what they love about the teacher, then compile and present the clips as a memorable gift.

Related: World Kindness Day: Why It Matters and How To Get Involved.

Door Decorations and Appreciation Displays

1. Decorate teachers' doors or classroom entrances with colorful banners, drawings, and messages of appreciation from students and parents.
2. Create a "Wall of Gratitude" outside the classroom, where everyone can share their thank-you notes, photos, and stories, showing how much they appreciate the teacher's efforts.
3. Collaborate with students to design and create an eye-catching, thematic door display highlighting the teacher's subject, favorite book, or personal interests, making them feel extra special during Teacher Awareness Week.

Conclusion

Teacher Appreciation Week highlights educators' pivotal role in shaping our society's future. 

Most of us reflect fondly on what our favorite teacher contributed to our lives and prospects—inspiring us to be the best. And other teachers nationwide are working tirelessly to make the same impact on our future generations. 

This special week highlights their unwavering commitment and relentless efforts, emphasizing our importance in supporting and lifting these inspiring figures.

As a community, let's pause and express our heartfelt thanks, joining in the festivities that celebrate their far-reaching impact. We all can participate in this meaningful cause by showing our appreciation, sharing inspiring stories, and contributing to initiatives that enhance teachers' lives. Doing so cultivates a flourishing educational environment for teachers and students alike.

Teacher Appreciation Week FAQs

1. When is Teacher Appreciation Week celebrated?

Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated during the first full week of May every year.

2. Why is it important to appreciate teachers?

Teachers play a vital role in shaping the future of our society by educating and preparing the next generation of leaders.

3. How can I show my appreciation for my child's teacher?

You can show your appreciation for your child's teacher by writing a thank-you note, sending a small gift, or volunteering in the classroom.

4. Are there any national initiatives to support Teacher Appreciation Week?

Yes, there are several national initiatives to support Teacher Appreciation Week, including the National PTA's Teacher Appreciation Week and the National Education Association's Teacher Appreciation Day.

5. Can I participate in Teacher Appreciation Week if I am not a teacher or parent?

Yes, everyone can participate in Teacher Appreciation Week by showing their support for teachers and recognizing their hard work and dedication.

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1

Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2014. Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood, American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2633-79

2

Ingersoll, R. M., & May, H. (2012). The Magnitude, Destinations, and Determinants of Mathematics and Science Teacher Turnover. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis.

3

Ingersoll, R. M., Merrill, L., & Stuckey, D. (2014). Seven trends: The transformation of the teaching force (pdf). CPRE Research Reports.

Photo by Katerina Holmes
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