2024 Teacher Appreciation Week Celebration Ideas

When is it and what to plan?

A pile of handwritten thank you notes for US teacher appreciation week
@raptor.keyclub via Instagram

We’re firm believers that teachers deserve appreciation all year long. And we’ll take it in the form of higher salaries and stronger laws to make schools safer for everyone. But we’re fans of the official Teacher Appreciation Day and U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week too. Here’s more about Teacher Appreciation Week and ideas for celebrating it.

When Is Teacher Appreciation Week?

U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week runs from May 6 to May 10, 2024, and Teacher Appreciation Day is May 7, 2024.

Since 1984, Teacher Appreciation Week always takes place the first full week of May. Teacher Appreciation Day, on the other hand, takes place on the first Tuesday in May in the United States. (World Teachers Day takes place each year in October—here’s more about that holiday.)

Many businesses offer teacher discounts and deals during Teacher Appreciation Week to celebrate and honor teachers. Find the Best Teacher Appreciation Discounts and Deals here.

Jump to:

History of Teacher Appreciation Week

Eleanor Roosevelt was actually the first to convince Congress that we needed a dedicated time to thank teachers for their hard work in the 1950s. The first lady had an excellent understanding of what it really means to be a teacher.


“The teachers are, of course, among the most important people in our nation,” she wrote in 1953. “Day in and day out they are at work preparing the future citizens of the U.S. … I have always felt that we did not give an honorable enough place in our communities to the teachers. Next to parents they are the most important people in our communities.”

"I have always felt that we did not give an honorable enough place in our communities to the teachers." —Eleanor Roosevelt

Roosevelt continued: “It is quite impossible to give teachers monetary compensation alone that will repay for their devotion to the job and the love that must go to each and every child. But I think we could compensate a little more adequately the teachers in our communities if we were conscious of their importance.”

The 81st Congress declared a National Teacher Day for 1953 at Roosevelt’s urging. The holiday didn’t catch on right away, though. In 1980, Congress declared March 7 National Teacher Day, but it was only for that year. It wasn’t until 1985 that the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week in the first full week of May, with Teacher Appreciation Day held on Tuesday of that week.

What do teachers really want for Teacher Appreciation Week?

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: What teachers really want is to be valued, paid fairly, and supported in their jobs. They want a safe teaching environment and reasonable class sizes, with quality resources to serve every student’s needs. Teachers want equipment that works; texts that are up-to-date, relevant, and diverse; and plentiful classroom supplies that they don’t have to pay for out of their own pockets.

Most of all, teachers want respect. They want to be recognized for the professional, hardworking, dedicated, responsible, and educated workers they are. Teachers want the trust and freedom to make decisions about what they teach and how they teach it, because they are trained experts in their fields. They want administrators who support their decisions and provide the professional development they need to stay on top of their game.

Many of these are things that come automatically in other professions. But for some reason, teachers constantly have to beg for supplies, better pay, support, respect, and recognition. The best way you can really help teachers is to use Teacher Appreciation Week to advocate for what they really want and need, in and out of the classroom.

Use Teacher Appreciation Week to advocate for fair compensation, smaller class sizes, quality educational resources, and the respect and trust educators have earned.

20 U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas for 2024

That being said, teachers also want to be recognized for all their hard work, and this week is the perfect time to do it! By the end of a long school year, teachers have given their all every single day. So take this week to show them some love. These teacher appreciation ideas are a great way to start.

1. Collect thank-you notes

A pile of handwritten thank you notes for US teacher appreciation week
@raptor.keyclub via Instagram

Meaningful teacher thank-you notes are always appreciated, as these examples can attest. Send a request home to students and families requesting they fill out a form or write a letter to help show appreciation for their teacher. Supply prompts or questions to make things a little easier, such as:

  • Why do you like your teacher?
  • What’s something cool your teacher taught you this year?
  • What makes your teacher special?
  • Share a special story about your teacher.

Don’t forget to give a deadline for returning the letters, and make it easy for families to respond any way that works best (collection box in the office, email, snail mail, etc.).

2. Record thank-you videos

Set up a Flip page for your school (or one for each teacher) and invite students and families to record a quick thank-you video. This way, others can see and celebrate your educators too.

3. Cover daily duties

Ask parents, administrators, and school board members to volunteer their time to cover recess or lunch duty, so teachers can get a much-needed break. Parent volunteers can also handle tasks like making copies, assembling supplies for a project, or organizing classroom bookshelves.

4. Pass out coupons for the future

Give teachers some flexibility by providing them with coupons they can trade for help in the future. (Be sure you’re not tasking other teachers with covering for them, though. Instead, arrange for administrators or parents to step in as needed.) Some possible ideas:

  • Cover a duty (lunch, drop-off/pickup, etc.)
  • Early leave/late arrival
  • Long lunch
  • Lend a hand (Be a second pair of hands and eyes in the classroom.)

5. Create collaborative art

One principal says she takes over art class for one week and works with students to create a big art piece specifically for their teacher. It’s a cooperative and visual way to say thanks for all that they do. See our favorite collaborative art projects here.

6. Decorate their doors

Classroom door decorated with a campfire and marshmallows. Text reads "We need s'more teachers like you."
@adventuresofmssmith via Instagram

Loudly and proudly celebrate your teachers by decorating their doors. This costs very little. You just need some time and parent volunteers to pull it off. One principal turns his teachers into superheroes, complete with large face cutouts and capes!

7. Write messages in sidewalk chalk

This is a fun and easy way to welcome teachers to their day. Invite families to create the art the night before (check the weather for rain) or to come in early before school.

8. Let baristas make your teachers coffee

Set up your own hallway Starbucks, making delicious caffeine-filled treats for your teachers. This one will take some help from amazing volunteers, but if you pull it off, teachers will be talking about it for a long time.

9. Create collaborative bouquets

One principal asked each student to bring in a single flower, then created bouquets. This is a really sweet and inexpensive way to let families contribute, especially in areas where everyone has their own backyard garden.

10. Wash teachers’ cars

We heard from one principal who said they coordinate with their coaches and athletic department to set up a car-washing station during Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s free for all teachers, and it gets students involved too. So creative!

11. Buy them lunch

This is a standard Teacher Appreciation event, but one that’s always appreciated. Let teachers vote to choose a place, and place their orders in advance so every teacher gets what they want. (If possible, offer several places that teachers can pick from when they order.) Then, make sure their lunchtime is actually long enough (and stress-free enough!) to enjoy their meal.

12. Host a cookout

Teachers eating lunch outdoors at colorful tables for Teacher Appreciation Week
@mhs_tomorrowsteachers via Instagram

Invite parent or community volunteers to throw a cookout during lunch. Set up tables and chairs outside, with food available all through teacher lunch hours. They can swing by when their lunch break arrives, grab some BBQ, and relax with their coworkers in the sun!

13. Bring in a food truck or ice cream truck

This one will be oh-so popular, but it might take a little more cash. Cut costs by asking food trucks to donate or give you a discount. (You never know.) If that’s not possible, have an open call for donations from school families or select members of the community.

14. Offer room service

Put a note on teachers’ doors offering them room service. List treats like coffee, water, chocolate, fruit, etc. Ask them to select one or two items and then hang their request on their door by a certain time. Collect the notes, then stop by and leave the teachers’ requested items before the end of the day. This gives administrators a chance to get face time with each and every educator too!

15. Rent an ice cream machine for the week

You can give your teachers ice cream all Teacher Appreciation Week long through the magic of a rental. Set it up so your teachers can have ice cream anytime they want. (You can also rent a popcorn machine, snow cone machine, etc.) So sweet!

16. Offer massages with a mini spa

Want to help teachers relax? A massage might be the ticket! If you’re on a budget, ask the local massage schools if they have students who’d be willing to volunteer. You can also send an email to parents asking if anyone is a massage therapist. Have a sign-up sheet for teachers to get massages, then set everything up in an empty classroom that has soft music, aromatherapy, and other treats.

17. Ask local businesses to offer freebies or discounts

Visit local stores and restaurants to see if they’d be willing to give your teachers a discount or free item during Teacher Appreciation Week. They can provide items to give teachers at school, or invite teachers to stop by in person to get their discount or freebie.

18. Roll out the red carpet

Giant Hollywood-themed balloon arch with a paper "red carpet" covered in gold stars
@confetewithme via Instagram

Ask a local company if they’ll donate a red carpet rental, or just make one yourself out of paper. Then, give each teacher a star on the walk of fame, and line the carpet with students and administrators to cheer them on!

19. Give them a gift

Teachers always appreciate a thoughtful gift, although frankly, they already have enough mugs, water bottles, and candles. Instead, take a look at these teacher gift ideas, with options in every price range.

20. Even better, give them a gift card

This is the number-one teacher gift educators ask for, since it allows them to choose what they really want. See their top gift card picks here. Tip: Pair them with one of these free printable teacher thank-you cards.

Want to ask other educators for their thoughts on teacher appreciation? Join the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Also check out Our Favorite Thank-You Quotes for Teachers.

This year, U.S. Teacher Appreciation Day is on May 7 and Teacher Appreciation Week is May 6-10, 2024. Here's how to celebrate!