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Teacher Appreciation Week Activity Ideas

By: National PTA
How can you express appreciation for a teacher who has educated and inspired your child? Here the National PTA offers ideas for parents, students, and schools to say a meaningful "thank you."

Public tributes through PTA

  • Host a special breakfast or lunch for your school's teachers and staff. If space allows, invite parents, school board members, the district superintendent, district personnel, and prominent community leaders to join you at the event in showing appreciation for teachers.
  • Create a giant teacher thank-you card for display in the school community. Place markers by the card so community members can add their words of thanks.
  • Start a "teacher feature" on a school or library bulletin board. Each week or month, profile a different teacher. Include quotes by and about the teacher, as well as the teacher's picture, background, hobbies, and philosophy of education. Alternatively, use the school or PTA newsletter to publish interviews with teachers and stories about teachers' accomplishments. Consider having students conduct the interviews and write the stories. Publish stories throughout the year.
  • Plant trees or flowers in public areas or on school grounds in honor of teachers.
  • Ask each teacher what his or her favorite book is and buy a copy for or have a copy donated to the school library. Include in each book a bookplate with the name of the teacher who chose the book.
  • Present certificates of appreciation to all teachers, as well as to substitute teachers, aides, and other support staff.
  • Take out an ad in the local newspaper to thank the teachers in your school or district.

Expressions of gratitude

  • Put flowers, snacks, and gourmet coffees and teas in the teachers' lounge during Teacher Appreciation Week. Place small gifts in each staff person's mailbox. (For gift ideas, visit the PTA Store.)
  • Ask teachers to fill out a survey regarding their favorite books, colors, flowers, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. Use that knowledge when giving gifts. For example, present each teacher with his or her favorite book, signed by each of his or her students; give each teacher a small bouquet of his or her favorite flower.
  • Give the teachers' lounge a makeover-buy new furniture, reupholster old furniture, or give the walls a new coat of paint.
  • Hire a massage therapist to give 15-minute head, neck, shoulder, hand, or foot massages to the teachers and staff in the teachers' lounge.
  • Coordinate a car wash and invite the school staff and teachers to get their vehicles washed for free.
  • Establish a fund to enable teachers to take part in lectures and workshops at local colleges or to attend special trainings or conferences.
  • Have the students in each class create their own posters thanking their teacher. Take a picture of each student holding his or her sign. Then, put together small photo albums of the thank-you messages for the teachers.
  • Give teachers the gift of time. Use PTA Three for Me to organize volunteers to help out in classrooms throughout the year.

School spirit

  • Have students vote for a Teacher Appreciation Week Teacher of the Week. Collect votes throughout Teacher Appreciation Week and present the honor at a school-wide rally at week's end.
  • Ask each teacher to complete the phrase, "If I had only one wish, it would be…" Provide large sheets of paper and have each class or small group of students illustrate its teacher's wish. Display the paintings and drawings in the school.
  • Work with groups of students to write, direct, and act out skits that portray "a typical day in the life of a teacher" or "what our day would be like without Ms. or Mr." Present the skits in a classroom program or at a school-wide assembly attended by students, parents, and other community members. There are sure to be some original, humorous, and endearing scenes.
  • Make sure students serve on the planning committee for your Teacher Appreciation Week pep rally, assembly, or other events. Encourage the participation of school clubs and groups.

Thanks from parents

  • Tell parents to take time to write personal thank-you notes to their children's teachers. Also encourage parents to say thanks the next time they talk to their children's teachers, or to send a quick e-mail expressing their gratitude.
  • Offer parents ideas for small tokens of appreciation, such as apples, bookmarks, homemade goodies or crafts, "World's Greatest Teacher" mugs, or coffee shop gift cards, to give to teachers at the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week or each day of the week.
  • Suggest that parents contribute classroom materials, such as paper, stickers, chalk, stamps, ink pads, or books, instead of giving knickknacks to their children's teachers. Teachers also appreciate gift certificates that help them purchase the little extras needed in their classrooms.
  • Have parents drop by for a simple coffee reception for teachers.
  • Recruit parent volunteers to supervise classes so teachers can attend the special events planned in their honor.
  • Encourage parents to use Teacher Appreciation Week as a launching point for developing stronger partnerships with teachers. Expressions of appreciation can build mutual respect and open the door to better communication about expectations, student performance, and more.

Straight from the students' mouths

  • Make sure teachers hear the value of their work from the students themselves. Have students share thank-you messages with teachers past and present through notes, artwork, videos, stories, or other means.
  • Invite students to help decorate for Teacher Appreciation Week. Provide them with a long piece of butcher paper and a pack of markers and have them design tablecloths for your teacher appreciation breakfast or luncheon. Ask them to create posters and banners to hang in the school.
  • Organize student contests that will help kids get to know their teachers better. Post teachers' baby pictures and have students guess whose pictures they are. Put together a list of interesting facts about your teachers and have students match the teacher to the fact. Award prizes to the students who get the most correct, and to the teachers who stump the most students.
  • Interview students about their teachers. Ask both serious and funny questions: "What do you appreciate most about your teacher?" "What that your teacher has said has really stuck with you?" "If your teacher were a cartoon character, who would he or she be? Why?" Share the answers at a teacher luncheon or other event.
  • Have students record public service announcements for local radio stations to play.
  • Invite alumni students and their parents to attend an open house at the school. Teachers love to see how their previous students are doing and hear how they made a difference.
  • Work with students to develop a list of five nice things they can do for their teachers. Have each student pledge to do one thing each day during Teacher Appreciation Week. Be sure to help students identify realistic things they can do.

Community support

  • Create an event page on Facebook to spread the word about your Teacher Appreciation Week activities. Join the Thank-A-Teacher Facebook group to share ideas and photos with communities across the country, and encourage your community to join this forum for expressing their gratitude to teachers.
  • Ask local businesses to each adopt a teacher for the week and display students' drawings, cards, and stories about that teacher in a store window.
  • Have community centers, businesses, and families hang signs and banners that give thanks to teachers. Place additional thank-you messages on community and school marquees.
  • Partner with local restaurants, coffee shops, and stores for a "free item for teachers" day during Teacher Appreciation Week.
  • Petition the local municipality to issue a special proclamation honoring teachers and declaring the first full week in May PTA Teacher Appreciation Week.
  • Distribute pin-on buttons that say "Dear Teacher: Thank You!"
  • Place handouts at local businesses to remind everyone to thank a teacher.

Laurels and awards

  • Nominate teachers for awards and other types of recognition at the state and national level.
  • Donate money to a teacher scholarship fund or an education-oriented charity in honor of the teachers at your school.
  • Honor the education profession by presenting your own PTA-sponsored scholarship to a high school student planning a career in teaching.
  • Send out a press release thanking the teachers at your school, highlighting why teachers are so important to our children, and advertising your Teacher Appreciation Week activities.
National Parent Teachers Association (PTA). (2009). PTA Teacher Appreciation Week Activity Ideas. Retrieved April 17, 2009, from http://www.pta.org/documents/TAW_activities_09.pdf. For more teacher appreciation resources, see http://pta.org/teacher_appreciation.asp.

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