Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas for Christian Teachers
When is Teacher Appreciation Week?
Teacher Appreciation Week 2021 is Monday, May 3-Friday, May 7 (here in the US). Teacher Appreciation Week falls on the first full week in May every year.
In case you were wondering, Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated on the Tuesday of the first full week in May (May 4, 2021), as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.
Before becoming a stay-at-home-mom almost 6 years ago, I was a teacher and administrator in private elementary schools for 11 years. My summer job during college was teaching 3-year-olds in a daycare center. Teaching is a huge part of who I am, and I love that it’s a huge part of momming, which is now my full-time job.
I’ve been around other teachers (as most of us have) from the very beginning of my life–we have plenty of teachers in the family, I went to school, etc. But there’s another set of teachers that have always been in my life, and for some reason I never really thought of them as teachers until I became a mother and really see and appreciate all that these people do.
Who am I talking about? The children’s ministry leaders at church. In my church they’re called Sabbath School teachers, in your church they may be called Sunday School teachers or Children’s Church leaders. It doesn’t really matter what we call them, though. They’re teaching our kids about God and the Bible week in and week out, and they are teachers.
No matter what ages your kids are, whether they’re in school or homeschooled, chances are there’s a teacher in your life who’s making a huge difference in your life and community through the lives of your kids.
This year, many kids across the country are still being schooled at home because of social distancing measures and the coronavirus pandemic. But, that doesn’t mean that teachers are taking a break! Nope. They’re working extra long hours to ensure that students learn as much as possible under adverse conditions during a difficult time.
Teacher Appreciation Week is a fabulous time to celebrate those teachers and let them know that you notice and…um…appreciate all the hard work they’re putting into their ministry. (And yes, teaching is a ministry.)
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Why is Teacher Appreciation Week important?
Yes, I have been a teacher, so I’m totally biased. I freely admit that.
They show up, they love our kids, they teach science, math, reading, or Bible lessons. They teach social skills and motor skills. Teachers comfort and counsel our children when they skin their knees or have their feelings hurt. They see our kids at their worst and at their best. When a teacher says, “My kids…” they aren’t usually talking about their biological children–they’re talking about your kids, my kids, all the kids that pass through their doors.
Teachers aren’t perfect. They mess up sometimes. Every once in awhile, they really do lose a paper. Sometimes they have bad days and let it show. Sometimes they forget to do what they said they would. Teachers are people. People who could use a little bit of recognition and appreciation for what they do.
Teacher Appreciation Week is a great opportunity to tell the special teacher/s in your children’s lives that you see them and that you’re grateful for the way they love your kids. You don’t have to go crazy and roll out the red carpet paparazzi over teachers. In fact, most probably don’t want a lot of attention for what they do. But, everyone likes to feel appreciated, and it honestly doesn’t take much to be a support and encouragement to the best teachers in your life!
Here’s the other thing: a big part of discipleship parenting is teaching our kids how to find value in people. All people. But, honestly, it takes practice. Teacher Appreciation Week, for the Christian parent, is a chance to help our kids focus on the best qualities of a person they may or may not take for granted. Let’s teach our children how to pour back into someone who has poured into them.
Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas
There are plenty of things you can do for teacher appreciation week that don’t involve giving gifts. Here are some ideas that can help you give special teachers the extra oomph they need to keep up the good work through the end of the school year:
- write a sincere note. This, hands down, is the best gift you can give a teacher. Honestly, you don’t even need to read the rest of this post, because this is the pinnacle of Teacher Appreciation Week ideas. It might sound too easy or maybe too sappy, but I don’t know a single teacher who would be disappointed by receiving a sincere note of thanks or appreciation from a student (or a student’s parent, for that matter). Kind, thoughtful and honest cards or letters, or even anonymous notes are treasures and can easily make a positive difference in a teacher’s life (and yes, I mean their whole life). Tip: If your child is too young to write, have them speak and transcribe what they say, even if it goes a little wacky. Nudge them back to the topic, but don’t put words in their mouths. Sincerity is key, and the love kids have for their teachers will come out in what they say, even if it’s also kind of funny.
- help. Volunteer for a field trip, or ask the teacher if they’d like a hand with a special project. Help prep art supplies or reorganize the bookshelves. Ask them what they need help with, and help with that thing! If you can’t actually help, because work or skill set or whatever, offer to make the phone calls or write the emails to find someone who can.
- an award nomination. This one doesn’t apply to most preschool or Sabbath/Sunday School teachers. But, if there’s a classroom teacher in your life who’s just doing amazing things, you might consider nominating her or him for a teaching award. Whether or not they end up winning, it would be a great confidence boost, encouragement, and sign of support. Here’s a list of some national (US) teaching awards (Check the requirements to make sure your teacher is eligible!).
- a social media shoutout. Right now, it’s all about social media. Give those teachers a shoutout! Make a little video, write up a little note of gratitude, take a cute picture of your child with a picture they’ve drawn for their teacher. Be creative! Let people in your sphere of influence know how great your child’s teacher is and how thankful you are that they do what they do!
Teacher Appreciation Gifts
The above suggestions above are my favorites, but if you really feel that you’d like to give a physical gift to a teacher, check out this list for inspiration for awesome teacher gifts!
Gifts for Teachers
You and your child can gift any kind of teacher with:
- a grocery, bookstore, or gasoline gift card. Everyone needs groceries and gasoline, and any amount will be a thoughtful gesture of appreciation for the teacher who receives it. Most teachers spend a lot on books, too, so a little money toward your local book store or, even better, your local Christian book store is a great idea. Gift cards can be personalized with thoughtful notes from you and your child.
If gift cards aren’t your thing, check these out:
- school supplies. Yes, I said it. In many cases, teachers buy a lot (if not all) of their own school supplies as well as many for the students to use. Teachers can always use more dry erase markers, great pens, a good marker board eraser (magnetic ones are nice), great stickers (even my junior high students loved it when I put stickers on their papers), and even plain old paper. Does your teacher provide recess supplies for the class? Gift some new balls. Feel free to jazz these gifts up with cute (and FREE) printable gift tags by putting them in a great bag (durability is more important than cuteness for a teacher’s bag-but BOTH is the jackpot). This stuff is useful, and it tells the teacher that you see and understand what they do!
- candy and treats. Edible treats are a great (and totally consumable) gift that any teacher would love to receive. You can keep it super frugal (but still delicious) with some home-baked goods, or what-have-you. Or, you can go the fast and easy route and pick something up at the local bakery. Let’s be honest, for most people, if you buy a Snickers bar from the checkout line at the gas station, you’ll be set. The key here is to know your audience: Is the teacher vegan? gluten-free? diabetic? Does he or she have food allergies?
- meals. Teachers gotta eat, so you can order a lunch for them (they may need some prior notice), you could make ahead and freeze a lasagna for his or her family and take it to them so they don’t have to make dinner, or you could give a restaurant gift card. When I taught in a tiny school, a parent once took me out to dinner to show her appreciation. If you’re friends with a child’s teacher, you could consider doing that (when social distancing is over), or inviting the teacher (and his or her family) over to your house to share a meal. (Again, check to see if there are any special diets, food allergies or intolerances in play.)
- quirky signature items. Not all teachers have these, but if there’s some funny little thing that your child’s teacher collects or wears all the time, add to the collection! I’m not talking about just assuming because there are a few apple knickknacks around that you need to get another, but if they’re REALLY into something, go for it! For example, I always had fun socks. I know teachers who collect sand from different beaches, old readers, wacky pencils, or crazy holiday vests. If you’re in doubt, don’t buy it. There’s nothing like receiving a million of something that you never said you liked!
Which leads us to another issue:
What Not to Give Teachers
Let me preface this section by saying that the teacher you’re shopping for will likely be glad for anything you give, because they love your child. But there are two things that teachers just don’t need in vast quantities (yet millions of people give these things to teachers every year. I have no stats to back this up, but it’s an educated guess). Here they are:
- mugs. Now, I have nothing against mugs. I love them (and have way too many), but if I had kept every “Teaching is a work of heart” mug that I’ve ever received it would be problematic. Everyone gives teachers mugs, and mugs are fab, but it reaches a point that they have too many of them, even if they use mugs to store all their pens, pencils, rulers, markers, and whatever else they have sitting on their desks. Because I love mugs, I will grant two exceptions to this: 1) It’s okay to buy a teacher a mug if mugs are the teacher’s quirky signature item, and 2) It’s okay to buy a mug if the mug is really, really clever or absolutely perfect for the teacher (Here’s a fun one.)
- candles. Candles are the universal “I couldn’t think of anything else to get you” gift (for women, at least). Some people LOVE candles, and if you know your child’s teacher is one of those people, go for it. BUT, most (female) teachers probably receive more candles than they have relax time to burn them.
Now, if you find a candle IN a teacher mug, get it! Just kidding, don’t.
Should I give my child’s Sabbath School (or Sunday School) teacher a gift?
Well, that’s up to you, of course. Here’s why I’m going to do a little something to celebrate my kids’ Sabbath School teachers: Sabbath School is one of the highlights of my kids’ lives. Yes, my husband and I do our best to help our kids connect with Jesus, but the Sabbath School teachers are amazing partners in that endeavor. They receive no pay, they are under no obligation to accept the role, but they minister to my kids (and all the other church kids, too) week after week. Make no mistake, these teachers spend a lot of time and energy on their programs outside of the one hour we see every weekend, especially right now when they spend a lot of time making the videos for our home church experience each weekend during this time. I am thankful for them, so I will thank them and I intend teach my kids to thank them, too.
They’ll probably be a bit surprised, because I’m not sure how many people include Sabbath School/Sunday School teachers on their teacher appreciation lists, but that’s okay. It’ll be fun to put a smile on their faces, and give back a little to people who have invested themselves into my kids.
What should I give a Sabbath School or Sunday School teacher?
Easy! Anything in the lists above will work (except probably the thing about the award nominations). Adapt the school supplies slightly to include whatever supplies are used in the Sabbath School room, and you’re golden!
Teachers don’t expect gifts.
You do not need to feel pressure to buy gifts for teachers, because they honestly don’t expect gifts during Teacher Appreciation Week. They’re (usually) pretty happy just to be doing a job that they love. But, if teachers are doing good work with our kids, going a little bit out of the way to show appreciation would just be a nice thing to do.
If you don’t have money to spend, don’t spend anything! There are free options on the list above that are every bit (and even more) meaningful than anything you could buy. The point of Teacher Appreciation Week is not to add one more thing to your shopping list in May, but to honor a person who is making a positive and meaningful difference in the life of your child. Don’t do anything because you feel obligated. Do it because you want to encourage them in doing what they’re doing.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!
You don’t need to go wild in celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week, just do something! If you’re so busy that you can’t get a note together, you can take a moment after school (or Sabbath School, or Sunday School) to tell him or her how much you appreciate the hard work they do with your child. Just say what’s on your heart.
My hope is that after reading this post you’ll feel motivated to celebrate a special teacher, and that you’ve been inspired with an idea that works for your schedule and budget.
Perhaps you’re feeling like it’s too late to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. Well, it’s not. Even if you’re swamped and you can’t get anything together during May 3-7, it’s okay! Almost all of these teacher gift ideas will work any time of the year, and, honestly, it’s extra exciting to receive a gift when it’s not a special occasion, right? Expressing appreciation for a valued person never goes out of style.
How do you celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week?
I’d love to know how you encourage the teachers in your life! Let me know in the comments.
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