What Teachers Really Want for Teacher Appreciation Day

Why a thank you note means more than anything else.

Still of note of appreciation what teachers want for teacher appreciation day

May is here. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and people across the country are thinking of ways they can show thanks and appreciation for teachers. 

Friends of mine who work in the private sector get cash bonuses, trips, fancy dinners, expense accounts, company cars, and office parties with top-shelf liquor as a thank-you for their hard work.

By contrast, in past years for Teacher Appreciation Week, I’ve received pencils with “Awesome Teacher” in gold letters, mugs with catchy phrases like “The Goodest Teecher,” and candles. I definitely appreciate the effort, especially if it’s coming from the hearts of kids and parents. However, this is what teachers really want for Teacher Appreciation Day.

We want to hear from our students and former students.

Letter of appreciation from student to teacher.

A handwritten note would be great, but we would be just as thrilled with an email. We want kids popping their heads into our room between classes, telling us we’re awesome. Or that we made them realize how wonderful it is to escape into a good book. Or how our classes have made them want to go out and fight for justice in an unjust world.

We want to hear positive things from parents.

We want to hear from the parents of our students as well, so they can tell us how far their children have come under our tutelage. We’d love to hear those little stories or examples of ways we made a difference that we probably didn’t even know about. Are your kids confident, happy, and excited for school now? Tell us, please!

We want to be recognized by our administration.


We want a faculty meeting that lasts only two minutes. “Thank you all for coming today,” the principal will say. “I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how amazing you are. You have one of the most challenging and most meaningful jobs in the world. Each day you help kids navigate the path to adulthood and shape them in ways that often go unappreciated. So, I want you to know how much we appreciate you. Now, get out of here and go enjoy the beautiful spring day. Don’t forget to grab your Starbucks gift card on the way out!”

[See more teacher appreciation ideas for principals and school leaders here.]

We want people to stop making rude comments.

Still of Emilia Clarke from Game of Thrones teachers meme

Source: @weareteachers

We want people to stop making poorly veiled, resentful comments about how nice it must be to have the summer off or to finish the workday at 3:00 in the afternoon. Teacher Appreciation Week coincides with the time of year when the whole population starts talking about summer. Just once we would like to hear, “You must be exhausted from such an intense school year. I hope you get some time to rejuvenate over the summer.”

We want to be treated like adults.

One of the ways this can happen is to let us dress how we want. If you’re on #teamjeans, then you’ll definitely agree with this article. Even if you don’t agree with the right to wear jeans daily, it is nice to be able to have flexibility.

We want supplies.

As teachers across the country strike for better funding, we can all connect with the idea of shortages in our classroom. I can’t think of many other professions where highly skilled employees are required to dip into their own money to purchase the items necessary to do their job well. Books for a classroom library, arts and craft supplies, lumber and labor for a new playground …

We want free coffee.

Most businesses consider it a forgone conclusion that there will be coffee available for tired workers. Donations of coffee, gift cards, and Keurig cups would be most welcome.

[And in the meantime, check out our list of teacher appreciation deals here.]

We want smaller classes.

We understand how important this is and what statistics show, so let’s keep up the good fight on this one. Keep spreading the word!

We want a secure school budget.

It’s scary to think about the future of education and not having enough money for supplies, raises, and other essentials. We all became teachers because we’re passionate about the job, so let’s give teachers a little security that they’ll have what they need to make this a lifelong career.

If you really want to give us something, we want gift cards.

If people don’t have time for all of this, we want a gift card. Cash is welcome, but most people think that is a tad gauche. Those plastic cards are prettier. Yes, we want that unexpected spending money for coffee, or iTunes, or dinner out. We do not want gift cards for school supplies.

So Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, everyone. I hope your inbox is filled with messages from nearly forgotten students telling you how much your influence still shapes their life today. I wish that your administration comes out of their offices to personally thank you for all you do. I’m crossing my fingers that parents write you letters and send copies to your bosses, praising you for the hard work you do each day.

And I hope your gift cards come in large denominations.

Anything else you would add to our list of what teachers really want for Teacher Appreciation? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, what to do with your teacher mug collection.

What Teachers Really Want for Teacher Appreciation Day