Last Updated on April 22, 2022 by Luke Feldbrugge
Showing teacher appreciation has always been a good idea. But in the wake of the pandemic and all the new requirements that teachers have had to live with, showing appreciation for our educators is no longer simply a good idea–it is vital to supporting a profession that sustains our communities. In the wake of all of these new pressures, and the loss of so many teachers who could not do it anymore, our nation is humbled in the light of their sacrifices.
Many of the heroes we at Homes for Heroes celebrate are admired for their willingness to protect us from crime, ill health, fires and even larger threats. Teachers can be in a position to do those things. They do protect, but their primary drive is to build. They build better communities and a better nation by building a future for our young people and their families.
Building our future – think about that.
Then think about the favorite teachers in your life that you remember, the ones that made a difference in your education and development. We all have them, and we are all likely to remember them throughout our entire life. You probably think sometimes that you didn’t do enough to show your teacher appreciation.
Put away your regrets and take action to show appreciation to the teachers in your life.
Here are some concrete opportunities to support the educators in your community.
National Teacher Day
The unofficial start to National Teacher Day started in the 1950’s, when Eleanor Roosevelt asked Congress to set aside a day to honor teachers. While Congress did not officially adopt a national teacher appreciation day, several states started to celebrate teachers in their own way. It wasn’t until 1980, with the help of the National Education Association, that an official Day was recognized in March.
It later moved to the first Tuesday in May, but it also expanded to include a whole week.
At Homes for Heroes, we thank educators by helping them buy and sell their homes.
“I was so excited to be part of Homes for Heroes. I feel grateful this program is available. I have saved so much money. I not only bought a home with Homes for Heroes, but I also sold two homes as well. I can’t believe this program exists and, during this time of COVID, recognizing us that care for the community was such a beautiful addition. Being a teacher, every little bit helps. – Linda G. bought a home in Washington
Teacher Appreciation Week (May)
National Teacher Day blossomed into national Teacher Appreciation Week, encompassing the whole first week of May. Expanding this national appreciation to a whole week was an important step in showing the level of gratitude we felt for the educators in our community. National Teacher Day is still the centerpiece for the week.
By growing this to a full week, it will give you and your communities more opportunities to show how you feel about your amazing teachers. If you forget on the first day, there will be plenty of reminders throughout the week to show your thanks to teachers in your life.
And if a week isn’t enough…
May is Unofficially Teacher Appreciation Month
Educators for Excellence is currently working on establishing a Teacher Appreciation Month. In 2019, the organization hosted more than 175 events across the country involving more than 5,000 teachers. If you want to show appreciation to a teacher anytime in May on social media, the hashtag #showteacherslove is being used by Educators for Excellence.
World Teachers’ Day (Oct)
World Teachers’ Day was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1994 and it happens every October 5th. The proclamation sought to create standards for international educators in terms of policy, recruitment, and initial training. In addition, it focuses on “appreciating, assessing and improving the educators of the world.”
UNESCO creates a theme every year for the event and seeks to promote it through private partnerships and exposure in the media.
Many countries have their own Teachers’ Days and some of them coincide with World Teacher’s Day.
We’ve talked about the “why” and “when” of teacher appreciation, but the most important thing is the “how,” and that means figuring out how to make your thanks actionable.
Teacher Appreciation Ideas
There are a number of ways to go when you are trying to show appreciation to teachers and educators. And there are countless lists of things you should do, and a few you shouldn’t do, when sending teacher appreciation gifts. They tend to fall into categories:
- Simple Thanks: are inexpensive or free ways to show your gratitude with a card, note, sticker, post on social media, etc.
- Thank You Gifts: are substantive ways to say thank you with coffee cards, movie cards, flowers, books, etc.
- Group Efforts: when a community comes together to thank teachers, the effort is noticed. For example, if the whole district agrees to post “thank you teachers” yard signs for the entirety of Teacher Appreciation Week (or even the whole month), that tells educators of the community’s gratitude.
The Toolkit – Let’s begin with the toolkit from the PTA. This is a quite impressive collection of digital thank-you cards, certificates, flyers, web ads, virtual stickers and social media graphics that express appreciation for teachers and educators. They issue a new one every year, so get your printer ready. If you post any of the social media graphics on your accounts, use the hashtag #ThankATeacher.
PTA Collaboration – Individual efforts are great, but a collaborative team effort to express gratitude can send a powerful message. Planning a celebration for the teachers in your school with your PTA can send a clear message that you support your educators. There’s even a great example of simply organizing appreciation using only your mobile phones.
Gift Cards – There is so much written about the art of giving gift cards that it deserves a semester in an economics curriculum (Gift Card Theory 101). Don’t let it intimidate you. Let’s split gift cards into three categories:
- Generic Gift Cards: These are Amazon cards, Starbucks cards, grocery gift cards or gift cards for local restaurants. We all need stuff, caffeine and food, so these cards will be appreciated and, more importantly, they will get used.
- Specific Gift Cards: If you know anything about the interests of the teacher, getting a gift card specific to that interest will show that you are paying attention. If, for example, the physics teacher is a Star Wars fan, a gift card to a specialty store featuring the Star Wars universe would be fun. Likewise, if the teacher is known to be an accomplished artist, an Etsy gift card would be a good gift. Talk to your kids about this one. They probably know their teacher’s preferences quite well.
- Inappropriate Gift Cards: Some of these might include liquor store gift cards, Victoria’s Secret gift cards, massage gift cards, etc. If you find yourself asking “is this too personal?”, go with a generic card.
Flowers – As universally-welcomed gifts go, flowers are near the top of the list. Teachers love them. And bringing some beauty into the classroom is also a plus, because the students can appreciate them too.
A Pencil Sharpener? – This one took us by surprise. Apparently there are pencil sharpeners that teachers want and hold in high regard. Noise is an issue. There are camps who believe that electric sharpeners are inferior to simply mechanical sharpeners. This is what we might call inside baseball, but if you deliver the “right” pencil sharpener to your teacher, your street cred will go way up. It also communicates that you understand the challenges teachers face.
A Book – Books and schools typically go together, and you have to expect that most teachers are pro-book, not just in education but in their personal life. This is another case of knowing a bit about their interests? Are they a cook? Do they only read mysteries? Gift cards from a place like Powell’s Books might be particularly appreciated by book-loving teachers.
Notes – A sincere thank you note still makes an impression. Some gifts might not be appropriate as your students progress through the grades, e.g. stickers for your daughter’s Chemistry professor, but notes always work. No matter what the student’s grade in school, a hand-written note from a parent will communicate appreciation in a way few other things can.
Social Media – Posting your appreciation for particular teachers–or teachers in general–in May helps in two ways (maybe three). First it shows how you feel about the educators in your family’s life. Second, if you post early in Teacher Appreciation Week, it will remind all your followers that they, too, can take some time and post their gratitude. That’s one way to get the ball rolling. Thirdly, using hashtags in your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts helps tie all the gratitude together. Here are some to use:
E-cards – Most of the e-card services have free trial periods, so you can jump on and send an e-card to the teachers on your appreciation list. The benefit of e-cards is you can customize them somewhat and add video, audio and other effects.
Homes for Heroes helps educators at all levels, both teachers and administrators. And sometimes we hear back from them.
“As teachers in the state of Iowa, my husband and I felt very thankful and very honored to be a part of this wonderful program. Thank you so much! We have been and will continue to discuss this program with our friends and family!” – Bob and Deb F. bought a home in Iowa
Thank You Teachers for Doing the Hard Work
As you are tailoring your thanks and choosing appropriate gifts for the teachers on your list, it’s important to remember the differences and challenges of each group. Some core characteristics are common to all teachers, such as a commitment to education. However, the characteristics that make a strong preschool teacher may not be the best for a secondary education professional. It’s good to show your favorite teacher your appreciation for who they are as a person. But, do not leave out the importance of how well your favorite teacher does the work their job requires. It’s hard work, and to assist with some of the common responsibilities for different levels of education, here’s a field guide.
Preschool and Kindergarten Teachers
These teachers work with children between two and six years of age. Core personality traits include:
- High energy
As you might guess, working with that age group, patience was put in the first position for a reason. These teachers deal with discipline on a whole different level. They have to be comfortable with a certain level of chaos, and they need to have a great deal of energy. Their ability to redirect energy into learning activities makes them exceptional educators. They also help children make the transition from home to school. We owe them all the gratitude we can deliver.
Primary/Elementary Education Teachers
These teachers cover grades 1 through 5, depending on the state. They are at the beginning of the formal education process where students will be in school full time. Core characteristics for primary school teachers include:
- Talent Scout
- Confidence Building
- Sense of Humor
Patience tops the charts again for teachers working with this young population of students. Being a good talent scout means being able to figure out what particular students are good at and where to channel their energy. It also means being able to spot the academically gifted early and make sure they are challenged. Likewise, they need to find those who are having trouble with traditional learning models and helping them build confidence to succeed. If you are thanking a primary school teacher, remember to mention some of these traits.
At Homes for Heroes our thanks to our teacher heroes comes in the form of a check when they buy or sell their homes.
“What an awesome program. As an elementary teacher with not a lot of extra cash to spare, this program was so wonderful–to have help buying my first home. It allowed me to purchase some things when I moved in, and I am so grateful for the support!” — Mackenzie R. bought a home in Washington
Middle School Teachers
Teachers in middle school handle grades 6 through 8, so they are deep in the swamp of adolescent development. As you might guess, the skill set for these folks is very different.
- Developmentally responsive
While primary school teachers deal with a lot of energy, middle school teachers have to work with a lot of emotions in their student population. Challenging the minds of young adults is also on the agenda. Empowerment is also important as these students wrestle with the transition from young person to young adult. When thanking this group of teachers, notes and gift cards are going to have the most impact.
High School Teachers
Dealing with high school students in grades 9 through 12 presents its own challenges. In addition to high profile events like sports and dances, teachers in high school also need to prepare their students for college or life. That turns the heat up considerably. The core characteristics of high school teachers are:
We can, of course, empathize with these educators, and that empathy should factor into your appreciation of them. They are preparing our kids for the next big leap in their life, whether to the world of work or into a more rigorous academic experience in college. They need all the support, and thanks, we can give them.
Post-Secondary Teachers and Professors
Handling the education of full adults is a whole different ball game. Knowing your subject as a high school teacher is important, but it’s vital for the college teacher to be the expert in the subject being taught. The discipline of college scholarship will help students learn how to think, not just what to think. Instructors and professors need to help students teach themselves how to learn, how to research subjects and how to communicate clearly. The core characteristics of college educators include:
- Stimulating Teaching Style
- Communicate Clearly
- Prepared and Organized
- Command of the Subject Matter
- Encourages Critical Thinking
- Personal Interest in Students
- Dialogue and discussion skills
The relationship between parents and college educators is often a strained one. Professors want academic independence and parents, especially helicopter parents, want to monitor and give feedback on what’s going on. The one thing these educators don’t get a lot of is appreciation and acknowledgement for what they are trying to accomplish. That’s too bad. Let’s change that. Drop them a note about the great work they are doing. You could even read something they’ve published and comment on that. Don’t wait until the graduation ceremony to thank faculty.
Teachers don’t choose their career path because they need appreciation. Instead, it is because they love young people and want to work with them. They all share a passion for educating our kids, and they work long hours, at all levels, to build a future for their students. It’s almost impossible to over-thank these heroes of education.
“Thank you so much for this program. It is so nice to feel appreciated. As a teacher, it definitely helped me to buy much needed items for my home.” – Marybeth H. bought a home in Ohio.
Helping Teachers Save on Home is Our Way to Say Thank You
Homes for Heroes wants to help every teacher and other heroes in the education field when they buy, sell, or refinance a home. When teachers choose to work with local Homes for Heroes real estate and mortgage specialists to buy, sell or refinance, they can save an average of $2,400 after closing. There are no hidden fees, no extra paperwork, and no complicated process to receive your Hero Rewards savings. Simply sign up to speak with our local specialist. Work with our specialist to complete your home transaction and you’ll receive a check after closing. It’s that simple.