Working in a school can be a tough job. It is also one of the most important roles in American society. We hope you feel pride in your chosen profession, and although you don’t get the recognition you deserve most of the time, your dedication, caring, and expertise will leave life-affirming legacies in the lives you touch.
Each year in May, the U.S. honors teachers with Teacher Appreciation Week, and World Teachers’ Day is October 5th, but we think these should be renamed to include all those in education who positively touch the lives of all our youth. Your efforts are the foundation on which this nation’s future rests. So, to all of you—teachers, administrators, support staff, volunteers— thank you!
19 Ways to Show YOUR Gratitude
- Send a handwritten note. Include something specific that makes them stand out in your experience. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy, just a nice way to show them you appreciate that they are making a difference in the lives of others.
- Invite your children (or students) to draw a picture, or take their photo and attach it to a note written by the child. Starter ideas could be: “This year you taught me….” Or “Thank you for…,” and don’t forget the principal, secretary, custodian, bus driver, etc.
- Add a form to your school website, and encourage parents and other website visitors to share what they think about their favorite teachers or other school personnel. Make it convenient for people to say “thank you.” You are likely to find that there are a lot of people who would like to show their appreciation but rarely get to it. So, make it convenient, and ask the types of questions on your web form that would encourage them to do so.
- Speaking of your website content, include a way to collect and display comments from alumni. This could also be a handy form on the district website or maybe your high school website.
- Give staff members a call. Yep, on a weekend or in the evening, just call one of the school staff members and tell them how much you appreciate their dedication. Be sure to mention specific examples that exemplify what makes you grateful for them.
- Hire a massage therapist to bring her chair to school and stay for the entire day. Encourage your staff members to come in and get a massage during their prep time, lunch, or before or after school. Chair massages aren’t as intrusive as a full massage, and most of your staff will be very appreciative of this “hands-on” thank you.
- Host an “Appreciation” luncheon or breakfast for your staff. Bring in a catered meal, and hire a handful of subs to cover classes (maybe on a rotating basis) so your faculty and staff can enjoy your thoughtfulness without rushing. Rotating grade levels might also be a great way to actually get to visit with your staff one-on-one.
- Give public praise. One thing teachers certainly don’t get enough of is public praise. Do you let others in your school know what their peers are doing? One teacher we asked said this: “There’s nothing more rewarding than being praised in front of your peers. Teachers live behind closed doors all day long, and we often don’t know what the person next door is doing. If you like what you see, tell the rest of the staff!” We couldn’t agree more. Public praise is a great way to show gratitude and respect to your staff and costs absolutely nothing. Consider using your school social media to provide public praise for your staff, students, and administrators every chance you get.
- To recognize a staff member or in honor of a special occasion (retirement, teaching anniversary, master’s degree, etc.), purchase a special book for the school library. Give the staff member the choice of what book to purchase, and include a special bookplate inside to commemorate the individual.
- Provide donuts or bagels in the morning, just to say “Thank you.”
- Create a spotlight page on your school website as well as your social media to highlight a different staff member every few weeks or each month.
- In your daily announcements, remind students to show appreciation to their teachers in a variety of ways. Provide a stack of notecards and envelopes in the front office where students can pick up a card and write a note to their teachers, or put an online form on the school websites where students can write a note that can be delivered to the staff member via e-mail.
- If you have lost part of your school vacation to snow days, provide some special treats on those makeup days to recognize the extra stress that goes with losing valuable planning days or vacation time.
- Ask your PTA or PTO to help spruce up the teachers’ lounge with some paint, new pictures or curtains, and some new or used furniture to make the space more comfortable and welcoming.
- Use social media to show appreciation during Teacher Appreciation Week. Have classes hold up a thank you sign, take a photo, and post them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Design a Pinterest board, and share collections of photos, quotes, and memories that show all the ways teachers have made a difference in the lives of students (don’t forget to invite alumni to participate).
- Reach out to the local media and send them reminders about Teacher Appreciation Week. Share some of the activities and events your school is participating in to show its appreciation for your staff. A bit of positive school marketing is always a great idea and will benefit your staff as well as your school’s reputation.
- Regularly tell school employees, volunteers, teachers, and administrators that you appreciate them, at meetings, in the hallway, at conferences, whenever you can!
- Express your appreciation on your social media. Be specific and include birthdays and anniversaries. Include a photo of the person being honored and recognize their contributions.
- Sweet treat ideas. Here are some cute ideas for ways to say “thanks” with a note and a sweet token of your appreciation that you can use throughout the year:
- Lifesavers: “Thanks. You are a real LIFESAVER!”
- Pop Rocks, Rock Candy, or Rock Star soft drink: “You ROCK!”
- M&M’s: “Thanks for being a sweet and well-rounded teacher.” (secretary, custodian, crossing guard)
- Almond Joy: “You’re a JOY to have on our staff,” or “Working with you is a real JOY.”
- Mounds: “I appreciate the MOUNDS of work you do!”
- Atomic Fire Balls: “Your classroom was all fired up with enthusiasm for learning. Thank you for being a fire starter.”
- Ding Dongs: “Thanks for working with us DING DONGS.”
- Milky Way Bar: “You are out of this world!”
- Extra Gum: “Thank for being so willing to go the extra mile. I appreciate you!”
- 100 Grand: “You are worth more than a 100 GRAND to us.”
- 3 Musketeers: “One for all, all for one.”
- Chocolate Eggs: “You’re an egg-spert, egg-straordinary educator!”
- Payday Bar: “You deserve an extra Payday.”
- Homemade cookie: “You are one smart cookie.”
- Fortune cookies: “We are fortunate to have you.” (Fill a Chinese takeout box with fortune cookies.)
- Mints: “You were ‘mint’ to be a teacher!”
- A&W Rootbeer: “You are an AW-esome teacher!”
- Fanta: “You are a ‘Fanta’ stic teacher.”
- Favorite soda: “We are ‘Soda’ lighted you work here with us.”
- Tootsie roll: “For the awesome roll you play in helping our students achieve.”
- Reisen candy: “You are the Reisen our students are doing so well!”
- Kit Kat bar: “You deserve a break”
Regardless of how you decide to show thanks to your faculty and staff, the important thing is to implement some way to get that message across. People who feel valued and respected will be more productive and happier in their jobs, which ultimately trickles down to being more effective teachers—which of course, leads to student success.
And, don’t forget that showing appreciation and kindness is the main goal of outstanding school customer service. By enacting positive traditions and encouraging others to do the same, you’ll be building trust, improving staff morale, and creating a fun and supportive team environment. Start small, if necessary, but start today!
Thanks Also to Those Unsung Heroes—School Administrators
We’re quick to recognize our nation’s teachers, and rightfully so. Sadly, most are underpaid and underappreciated. These dedicated people are busy shaping the goals and dreams of our future generations, and they deserve all the honor and accolades we can heap upon them.
However, there is another group of overworked and underappreciated individuals who work tirelessly behind the scenes at every school in this country, seldom, if ever, receiving the recognition they deserve. These are our School Administrators.
School administrators are superintendents, assistant superintendents, business managers, and directors of HR, IT, curriculum, special education, transportation, and others. They are accomplishing amazing tasks for salaries that pale in comparison to their private sector counterparts.
In order to fully support education, we need to appreciate what our school administrators contribute to that process. We need to take a moment and say thank you to these administrators who are probably the first to arrive every morning and the last to leave every night. Many have given up the security of tenured positions for increased challenges and less pay (when compared to their much longer hours).
Effective School Administrators:
- Clear the path of stumbling blocks so teachers reach and then teach their students
- Help teachers develop new skill sets and hone their craft through staff development opportunities
- Support and encourage teachers when parents have unrealistic or unfair expectations for their child or his or her education
- Manage the fiscal and physical resources (of which there is seldom enough) so teachers can stay focused on their primary goals, touching and empowering future generations of learners
To Superintendents for creating an environment that nourishes life-long learning in our children. They:
- Create the vision, establish the goals, and set the course for the district
- Manage and lead our schools in spite of woefully limited budgets
- Comply with ever burgeoning compliance regulations like accounting guidelines, ESSA, Office for Civil Rights directives, federal funding mandates, and special education issues
To Principals for supporting teachers so they can teach in a positive and safe environment where students can learn and teachers can teach. They:
- Assure that curriculum and standards are maintained and teaching methods are effective
- Manage professional development for the teaching staff to ensure continual improvement in instruction
- Provide support for the teachers with discipline issues
To Directors who:
- Provide conscientious stewardship over our tax dollars, maintaining fiscal responsibility with ever-dwindling funds
- Assure that students are safely transported to and from school each day
- Feed our children nutritious and balanced meals
- Hire qualified and dedicated personnel to assure that our students receive the best possible educational opportunities
- Provide for the special needs of students at all age levels
Thank you for your dedication and commitment to our schools, our teachers and staff, and our students! We appreciate your professionalism, compassion, and commitment to your profession!