Teacher Appreciation Week: How To Thank a Teacher Today in Five Minutes or Less

Teacher Appreciation Week: How To Thank a Teacher Today in Five Minutes or Less

I fell for teachers hard—and quickly. In first grade, I remember writing a multi-page story about how much I loved my kindergarten teacher. Thankfully, my first-grade teacher was not offended nor was my kindergarten teacher hurt when I switched allegiances by first quarter.

My second-grade teacher was also special. I memorized her license plate—PFG 598in case I saw her car in the parking lot of our local grocery. Today, I can’t remember where I parked or if I showered but I still remember that.

In sum, I have always loved teachers. My fourth-grade teacher was there for me when I lost the class president contest and quickly gave me a different task to focus on, leading the class play.

Channeling my (often endless) energy was one of my elementary teachers’ strengths. Yes, I got away with a lot, too. My fifth/ sixth-grade teacher has a shirt that was printed to show she survived having my brother and me in her class—back to back to back to back. All the way through college, I’ve loved and stayed in touch with many of my teachers (who I’ll later tag on Facebook when I post this).

Becoming a parent, I have fallen in love with teachers all over again. The most amazing part to me is to see how teachers know how to grow each of my kids individually, even though they couldn’t be more different.


Colin is the quiet, bookish one. His handwriting is sloppy and he likes to finish tests so quickly that he will skip entire questions.

Through his teachers’ encouragement, though, Colin is improving his attention to details and has learned to try many things. He’s playing percussion in the band, and next year he wants to also play the clarinet. He decided to take up baseball at age 11, even though most kids have been playing for years.  His teachers have given him a soft place to land when he falls, and it’s removed his fear of failure for new things in and out of the classroom.

My Graham I’ve mentioned before. He’s my energetic kid who happens to be ADHD-Combined. He tries to stay out of trouble, but he also struggles with how he reacts to, well, just about everything. Yet each day, his teachers are there for him. In fact, it was our intervention specialist who helped me realize he needed testing for behavior issues.

This year, thanks to a lot of hard work on his part (and the right dose of medication, too), Graham has thrived in school. This school year, thanks to great teachers, he no longer needs assistance in reading and received All As last quarter. When he makes mistakes, his teachers help make it a lesson in forgiveness and unconditional acceptance.

And now is the time of year we set aside time to appreciate teachers. And for you parents, I know how hard it can be to keep track of which day to bring what treat, who needs a book for the book drive or which homeroom parent is collecting thank you notes for the staff. I’ve been there. And I’ve been there when different schools weren’t even celebrating the same week.

We’re already juggling spring sports and activities, and then as May rolls on with the endless end-of-year celebrations and banquets. But the teachers are worth our time. Let’s thank them.

Can’t bring a side dish for the PTA Staff Appreciation Lunch? It’s OK. It doesn’t have to be during Teacher Appreciation Week, and it definitely should not be ONLY for Teacher Appreciation Week.

I realize not every teacher seems to be getting through to your kids, or maybe they seem to be hanging on until retirement. But they show up every day, and so we need to show up for them. Here are five easy ways you can thank a teacher—in less than 5 minutes.

  1.    Gift cards

Speaking from experience as a teacher’s kid, teachers treasure the sentimental gifts you give them. But you know what they also love? Gift cards! Fail-safe options are coffee or ice cream shops near the school, grocery or school supply store cards. But try and get to know your child’s teacher so you can know what to give, or ask your PTA if they collect the information.

  1.    Filling out of all the forms

Can’t chaperone? That’s fine. Turn in the forms, though. Teachers have enough paperwork; let’s not ask them to keep track of permission slips, too. I have to admit that as I write this I just returned from bringing a permission waiver to school one hour before today’s community service trip, but I will try again next time!

  1.    Give him/her the benefit of the doubt.

I’m sure your child is very special. Both of mine are. They also have a limited perspective. The instinct to go full-on Mama Bear is very real, but resist the temptation to assume your child is always right and the teacher did something wrong.  As my mom, a first-grade teacher used to tell her parents, “I’ll only believe half of what they say about you as long as you only believe half of what they say about me.”

  1.    Follow their rules.

You expect your child to follow the classroom rules from the teacher, so set an example by doing the same. If your teacher doesn’t want food treats for birthdays, send in Smencils with a smile.

  1.    Say thanks.

It’s so simple but so important. Teachers spend time away from their own kids taking care of yours. I’m not the best with actual notes (because it is 2018), but I try to write small email notes at the moment.  Either way, make it personal.


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