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Showing Your Appreciation

Last week President Obama designated today as National Teacher Appreciation Day, part of Teacher Appreciation Week. You may be thinking about how you can express your gratitude to a teacher this week, or you may even be thinking ahead to the end of the year. Below are some ideas for thoughtful teacher appreciation gifts.

A note of thanks

Personal notes have always been my favorite gifts from students. I particularly like that they are easy to keep and look back on. Cards and letters have lifted my mood on tough days and encouraged me to keep giving my best effort even when I felt worn out. They have also been beloved reminders of past students. Almost every teacher I know has a drawer or box full of such treasured notes from students. If your child is too young to draft a thoughtful composition, drawings or photos also work well.

Coffee or tea

Bring a warm mug of coffee or tea by a favorite teacher’s classroom during morning drop-off this week.

Snacks or meals

Sometimes teachers are too busy to eat or just too busy to eat well. Bringing breakfast, lunch, or snacks by a classroom or faculty room can really lift a teacher’s day. You might also organize parent volunteers to bring pre-cooked dinners in for teachers to take home at night. If you go this route, I recommend doing a little sleuthing to find out about your favorite teacher’s preferred foods.

Volunteer in the classroom

Offer to help out a favorite teacher by giving your time. Teachers frequently have administrative work like photocopying, laminating, cutting, filing, or researching that they could use a hand with. If your school does not have a formal system for volunteer sign-up, you might create and print out a “gift certificate” for your time.

Project help

Almost every teacher has a big project that she would like to tackle. It might be building a better classroom library, creating a reading nook, or repainting furniture. Organize a group of parent and student volunteers to help make your teacher’s classroom DIY goals a reality.

Donate a book to the classroom

Share your child’s favorite book with a teacher and help to grow the classroom library. Personalize the gift with an inscription.

Classroom supplies

If your favorite teacher has a classroom wish list, purchase some items from that list. If she does not have such a list, you might mention that you wish to make a donation of classroom supplies. Encourage your favorite teacher to share a wish list in Google docs or set up an Amazon registry.


Whether from the floral shop or your own garden, bright blooms almost always lift spirits.

Buy a Teachers Pay Teachers gift card

Teachers Pay Teachers is a website that sells lesson plans, worksheets, and other high quality resources for teachers. A TPT gift card lightens your favorite teacher’s load by allowing her to take a break from lesson planning or worksheet creation. Even better, most of the money spent on the site gets paid to other educators.

Donate to charity

Giving money in a teacher’s honor is a gift that acknowledges and amplifies the good that she does in the world.

Small, personal gift

Some families prefer to give something tangible and personal. If this is your preference, there are myriad creative ideas on Pinterest. Get started on your search on my Gifts for Teachers board.


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