For most teachers, the greatest reward for their job is seeing students thrive and succeed. They just want to know that they’ve helped. Thus, one of the most important things students can do for their teachers is say thank you. Our teacher profiles feature stories of students who return to visit their teachers many years later, and for these teachers, knowing where their students end up instills in them a sense of accomplishment.
Ways to Thank a Teacher
There are many ways to thank a teacher: a note, a card, a kind word. There are also ways to share your gratitude in the hopes that others will recognize your teacher’s impact and maybe honor their own teacher. The New York City Department of Education allows students and parents to thank teachers on their website. USC’s online Master of Arts in Teaching, the MAT@USC, has its weekly “Thank a Teacher Thursday” blog post. The website MyTeacherMyHero.com allows people to record and upload videos in which they speak about their favorite teachers. People like Sean Paul, Kathie Lee Gifford and Star Jones have already thanked their teachers --- have you?
Teacher Appreciation Celebrations
On a nation-wide level, the importance of teacher recognition is also acknowledged and encouraged. On the first Tuesday of the first full week of May, thousands of communities across the country gather to celebrate National Teacher’s Day, to focus on the invaluable contributions of educators. The week encapsulating National Teacher’s Day is also considered Teacher Appreciation Week, and many school districts sponsor events, including special lunches or awards ceremonies, to mark the occasion. National Teacher’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week are opportunities for school administrators to thank the educators who work so hard to make schools a better place. But also, it is a chance for students, parents and communities to give back. It is not uncommon for students and parents to present teachers with gifts of appreciation or for classrooms to come together in little celebrations to honor their teachers during this time of year. National Teacher’s Day was instituted by the National Education Association, which provides resources for planning your own teacher appreciation events here.
Companies Honoring Teachers
Companies and organizations with vested interests in education also play a part in thanking teachers. Office Depot, for instance, has instituted the Star Teacher Program, which provides educators with everyday discounts, a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast and other events. Every year for Teacher Appreciation Day, Staples has in-store events that recognize educators and offers them special benefits. Target, Big Lots, Walmart and Office Max have similar initiatives.
Teacher Appreciation Awards
You can also nominate a teacher for an award to show your appreciation. There are many awards associations that are very stringent with regards to who’s allowed to nominate a teacher, but others, such as the National Teacher’s Hall of Fame, allow students, parents, community members and fellow teachers to nominate candidates. Other teaching awards include:
- Thomas Gale TEAMS Award
- National Association of Special Education Teachers Award
- The Great American Teacher Awards
- PBS Teacher Innovation Awards
- Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Awards
Remember: Appreciating your teacher shouldn’t be limited to a single day or special event. Teachers change lives every day, and it’s important to ensure they know they are appreciated. These awards and events are special ways to do a little something extra to show your gratitude, but what’s important is simply saying thank you.