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Celebrating Our Educators: 10 Unique Teacher Appreciation Ideas

Updated: May 26, 2023

Teacher appreciation is essential as it recognizes educators' invaluable role in shaping our children's lives. One way to show gratitude is through Teacher Appreciation Week, an annual event celebrating teachers and their impact. In this article, we'll explore the history of Teacher Appreciation Week, share ten unique teacher appreciation ideas, and provide tips on organizing appreciation events, all while answering frequently asked questions about expressing gratitude to teachers.

Kids in Class
Teach in Classroom

History of Teacher Appreciation Week

The history of Teacher Appreciation Week can be traced back to the joint efforts of the National Education Association (NEA) and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). These influential organizations recognized the need to honor and celebrate the vital contributions of educators who work tirelessly to shape the lives of their students. The idea of celebrating teachers emerged in the early 20th century, with various states and communities creating their own versions of a "Teacher's Day." However, it wasn't until the 1940s that the push for a nationally recognized day to celebrate teachers began to gain momentum.

In 1944, an Arkansas teacher named Mattye Whyte Woodridge initiated a letter-writing campaign to political and educational leaders to establish a national day to recognize teachers. Woodridge's efforts eventually caught the attention of Eleanor Roosevelt, who, as the First Lady, lent her support to the cause. In 1953, Mrs. Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day, which was first celebrated on March 7th.

Despite the proclamation, National Teacher Day was not an annual event until 1980, when the NEA and its affiliates voted to establish a week-long observance in May to honor teachers. The NEA and PTA, along with other education-focused organizations, continued to work towards formalizing this recognition. In 1984, the National PTA designated the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week, with Tuesday becoming National Teacher Day.

Since then, Teacher Appreciation Week has become an annual celebration in schools across the United States. It allows students, parents, and school communities to express gratitude for educators' dedication and hard work. Various events and activities are held throughout the week, highlighting teachers' invaluable role in shaping their students' minds and futures.

The establishment of Teacher Appreciation Week has also led to many businesses and organizations offering special deals, discounts, and promotions specifically for teachers during this time. These gestures further recognize the importance of educators' work and demonstrate society's appreciation for their commitment to nurturing young minds. Today, Teacher Appreciation Week continues to be a beloved tradition, reminding us to celebrate and honor the educators who devote their lives to empowering and inspiring the next generation.

10 Unique Teacher Appreciation Ideas - 5 Free & 5 Paid Ideas

Free Ideas

  1. Handwritten Notes: Encourage students and parents to write heartfelt messages expressing gratitude. These personal notes often mean more to teachers than any material gift.

  2. Classroom Makeover: Organize a group of volunteers to redecorate a teacher's classroom. This could include painting, adding decorations, or rearranging furniture.

  3. Social Media Shoutouts: Create a hashtag and encourage the school community to share appreciation posts on social media platforms, tagging their favorite teachers.

  4. Teacher Feature Video: Compile video messages from students and parents expressing their gratitude and admiration for a particular teacher. Share the video during Teacher Appreciation Week.

  5. Acts of Service: Offer to help teachers with grading, organizing, or even providing a much-needed coffee run.

Paid Ideas

  1. Customized Gifts: Personalized items like mugs, tote bags, or stationery can be a thoughtful way to show appreciation. Consider adding the teacher's name or a meaningful quote.

  2. Teacher Appreciation Luncheon: Host a special meal for teachers, allowing them to relax and enjoy a delicious lunch with their colleagues.

  3. Gift Cards: Provide gift cards to local businesses or online retailers, allowing teachers to choose their preferred items.

  4. Subscription Boxes: Curate a themed box of items related to the teacher's interests, such as books, art supplies, or wellness products.

  5. Professional Development Sponsorship: Contribute to a teacher's professional development costs, such as workshops, conferences, or courses, showing your support for their growth and success.

Tips for Organizing Teacher Appreciation Events

Involving the School Community

Collaborate with the PTA/PTO, school administrators, and parents to ensure everyone is involved in planning and executing the event. Encourage student participation and input, as their perspective is vital.

Planning Ahead

Start early to ensure a successful event. Create a timeline and assign responsibilities to avoid last-minute scrambling.

Budgeting and Fundraising

Establish a budget for the event or gifts. Explore fundraising options, such as crowdfunding or partnering with local businesses if necessary. The Appreciation Company is a tech platform that makes collecting funds from parents for group gifts to teachers and staff members easy. With a 100% digital platform, The Appreciation Company simplifies the process and promotes generous giving through expressions of appreciation.

Communicating with Teachers

Coordinate with teachers to ensure their preferences and needs are met. Respect their time and schedules, and avoid burdening them with additional tasks.

Documenting and Sharing the Event

Capture memories through photos and videos, and share highlights on social media or in school newsletters to involve the entire community in celebrating teachers.

Teachers sitting at a table smiling.
Happy Teachers

Additional Resources for Teacher Appreciation Ideas

National Education Association (NEA) Resources

Visit the NEA website for ideas and inspiration related to teacher appreciation.

National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Resources

The National PTA provides resources on teacher appreciation, helping schools plan and execute successful events.

Online Communities and Blogs

Explore forums and blogs dedicated to education and parenting for more ideas and inspiration on unique ways to show gratitude to teachers.


Teacher appreciation should be a regular practice, as it fosters a positive school culture and recognizes educators' vital role in students' lives. Consider incorporating some of these unique ideas not only during Teacher Appreciation Week but throughout the year to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of our teachers continually.

Frequently Asked Questions Online

What do you say to a teacher you appreciate?

Express your gratitude sincerely and highlight the teacher's impact on your or your child's life. For example, "Thank you for your dedication and effort in helping my child succeed. Your patience and encouragement have made a huge difference."

Is Chick-fil-A doing anything for teacher appreciation?

Chick-fil-A may offer promotions or discounts for teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Check with your local Chick-fil-A or visit their website for details.

What is the best message for a teacher?

The best message comes from the heart and acknowledges the teacher's hard work, dedication, and impact on their students.

What do you write on a teacher appreciation card?

In a teacher appreciation card, express your gratitude, share specific examples of how the teacher has helped you or your child, and wish them continued success.

What is an example of a sweet message for a teacher?

"Your passion for teaching and genuine care for your students inspire us daily. Thank you for being such a positive influence in our lives."

What is a short inspirational message for Teachers' Day?

"Your dedication to shaping young minds is truly inspiring. Happy Teachers' Day!"

What are heartwarming words for teachers?

Some heartwarming words for teachers include: inspiring, dedicated, compassionate, patient, and impactful.

What is a simple message for Teachers' Day?

"Happy Teachers' Day! Thank you for all you do to help your students learn and grow."

Here are five companies that offer products or services related to education or teacher appreciation. These companies provide various options for celebrating and supporting teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week and throughout the year.

  1. Erin Condren - Erin Condren offers a wide selection of customizable planners, notebooks, and accessories to help teachers stay organized and motivated. Their Teacher Lesson Planner is a popular choice for educators looking to combine style and functionality in their planning.

  2. The Appreciation Company - As previously mentioned, The Appreciation Company is a tech platform that simplifies collecting funds from parents for group gifts to teachers and staff members. Their 100% digital platform makes it easy to express appreciation and support generous giving for educators.

  3. K-12 Clothing - K-12 Clothing provides spirit wear, team gear, and staff apparel for schools. With no minimum order requirement and direct shipping to parents, K-12 Clothing, created by a PTA Dad, makes it convenient for schools to show their pride and appreciation.

  4. Teachers Pay Teachers - Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where educators can buy and sell original educational materials, resources, and lesson plans. This platform allows teachers to support one another and access high-quality resources to enhance their classrooms.

  5. Bloomz - Bloomz is a communication app that helps teachers connect with parents and share important updates, announcements, and photos. In addition to its communication features, Bloomz offers a "Teacher Appreciation" feature, allowing parents to send virtual thank-you notes and gift cards to educators.

These companies offer a range of options for expressing gratitude and supporting teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week and beyond.

This article was written by K-12 Clothing, a school spirit wear, team gear, and staff apparel company. With no minimum order requirement and direct shipping to parents, K-12 Clothing, created by a PTA Dad, makes it easy for schools to show their pride and appreciation.


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