The Best Teacher Appreciation Gift Ever
Showing a teacher appreciation is such a simple thing to do. Yet we often take for granted these champions of our children. This week, in chatting with different friends at different times, I’ve been astounded that so many have been experiencing challenging issues at their schools. With both teacher and parent perspectives represented, I can honestly say how fortunate I feel to NOT be smack in the middle of what they’re respectively going through.
Not to say that I don’t want to hear their struggles. They’re my friends and I’m here for them. I’m here to listen and support and empathize and provide feedback when and where that’s appropriate. But it’s made me think.
Teacher Appreciation Any Time, All the Time
Teachers need to know we appreciate them. They spend their days caring for our children, nurturing their imaginations, challenging their minds. They teach them numbers and letters and how to put them together into words and sentences and stories and equations. They help our kids learn to share and cooperate and solve problems together.
They spend nine months helping our kids gain the skills and knowledge they need to continue growing, to move on to the next grade, to effectively master what they need to know at this stage in their lives. I don’t know how they do it and I know I’m not alone.
We give them teacher appreciation gifts at the end of the year to say thank you. A gift card from the class or a new coffee mug or some plaque with an apple on it. But do we really say thank you? If you have a teacher, or teachers, in your life who have made a difference to you and/or your kids, I think any time is the time to tell them. Let’s start now.
Here’s What I Propose
Get out some paper or get on your computer – wait, you’re already here! – and write a thank you note to a teacher. Bonus points if you write to more than one. Tell them what you appreciate about them. Tell them about the difference they have made in your life. Even if it’s just to pinpoint one time you noticed an extra kindness or that single moment when your kid finally “got it.” Trust me, they don’t hear this often enough.
You don’t have to get fancy; a simple email or Facebook message will do the trick. Or pop a hand-written note in the mail. If you don’t know where to find them or you’re unsure about contacting them directly, try sending a note to your school principal or parent-teacher group to let them know about a special teacher in their midst. Oftentimes, principals only hear the negative, when people are complaining. Give them a chance to see the positive and remember that teaching and being a part of the education system has rewards, too. Who doesn’t love unsolicited praise?
Give the good ones a reason to want to come back year after year and make a difference for the next group of kids. Give your principal a nice note to tuck into a teacher’s file for the next time they get discouraged. Be part of your parent-teacher group’s efforts to support great teachers. And show your kids how important it is to say thank you. I know you’re busy, but in then end, everyone will benefit from you taking a few minutes to write a note.
If you simply can’t make the time to write a letter, send them the link to this story from Scary Mommy. It’s beautifully written and sends a sincere message. But make it from you. Tell them it reminds you of them.
Just Do It
For many of us, I realize the school year has already come to an end. But, really, is there ever a bad time to say thank you? It’s so easy to think of teacher appreciation as the group gift that you hope someone else will coordinate, the token, and sometimes impersonal, note signed by 30 families. I’m sure the teachers appreciate these gestures because acknowledgement in any form always feels good. But think of how much better it would be to get a message of appreciation, out of the blue, when you’re not expecting it. I think it would make their day.
I’m off to write some thank you notes to some awesome teachers. I hope you’ll do the same!