Each October, we celebrate World Teachers Day. But what exactly is this holiday, and how is it different from Teacher Appreciation Day? Learn all about this special day, and find ideas for celebrating World Teachers Day 2023.
When is World Teachers Day?
World Teachers Day is held each year on October 5. It commemorates the 1966 signing of the International Labour Organization (ILO)-United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. This important document set international standards for the treatment of teachers, including recruitment, training, continuing education, and labor conditions.
Note that some countries celebrate World Teachers Day on a different date, depending on their local school calendars and customs. For instance, India celebrates on September 5, while Australia holds it on the last Friday in October.
What is World Teachers Day?
First celebrated in 1994, World Teachers Day was created by UNESCO and Education International (EI). It’s an international holiday, one that’s meant to recognize the importance of teachers across the globe.
You might be wondering how World Teachers Day is different from Teacher Appreciation Day or Week. Teacher Appreciation Day/Week is a U.S. holiday, held toward the end of each school year in May. Its purpose is to give students, parents, and the community a chance to thank teachers for all their hard work throughout the year.
World Teachers Day has a somewhat loftier goal. While this is definitely a day to show teacher appreciation, it’s also a time to consider bigger issues related to teaching and education. Each year, UNESCO and EI partner to create a theme. They then use World Teachers Day as a springboard to draw community and media attention to this theme, starting conversations on topics that matter to teachers. Past themes have included Teacher Empowerment (2017) and The Transformation of Education Begins With Teachers (2022).
What’s the theme for World Teachers Day 2023?
For 2023, UNESCO/EI have declared the theme to be: “The Teachers We Need for the Education We Want: The Global Imperative to Reverse the Teacher Shortage.”
Educators everywhere know just how timely 2023’s theme is. Statistics show that 55% of teachers now expect to leave the profession earlier than they had planned, with 35% expecting to quit in the next two years. Nearly half of BIPOC teachers say they’re unlikely to stay in the classroom in the years to come. (Learn more about these teacher shortage statistics here.)
In many states and communities, teaching becomes more challenging every day. New laws regularly restrict what and how educators teach. Cuts in funding strip away vital education resources and lower teacher salaries. We’re facing a dangerous time when even schools with plenty of funding still may not be able to find qualified teachers willing to stay in the classroom.
Focusing the World Teachers Day 2023 theme on reversing the global teacher shortage may help bring this issue front and center, forcing communities to face the startling facts about this looming crisis.
How can we celebrate World Teachers Day?
Schools and communities can (and should) take several approaches to celebrating World Teachers Day 2023. First, spend the day appreciating teachers, publicly and privately, for their hard work. We’ve got some fun ideas to try below.
But even more importantly, take the opportunity to bring wider attention to major teacher issues, including 2023’s teacher shortage theme. If we want to show teachers we truly appreciate them, we need to actually support them in and out of the classroom. Appreciation gifts and thank-you notes are lovely, but what teachers really want is recognition of the issues they face, financial and administrative support of their actions, and respect for their skill and expertise. We have suggestions for how schools and communities can do that too.
World Teachers Day: Teacher Appreciation and Recognition Ideas
- Thank a teacher. Encourage students, parents, and the community to write thank-you notes to teachers in their lives. Heartfelt messages really do mean a lot, as these teachers can attest.
- Find ways to make their jobs easier that day. Administrators and support staff might take over classrooms for an hour, giving teachers a few much-needed minutes to catch up.
- Ask local businesses to join in. Encourage them to offer teacher discounts or freebies on October 5, or to contribute treats or beverages for the teacher’s lounge that day.
- Fulfill their wishes. Have teachers create Amazon Wish Lists or DonorsChoose campaigns, or conduct surveys to find out what they need for their classrooms. Engage the community in helping to make these wishes a reality.
- Give them a token of appreciation. Truly thoughtful teacher gifts are always appreciated. Get lots of ideas here.
- Buy them lunch—and give them time to actually eat it. Provide a delicious meal (remember to accommodate dietary restrictions), and ensure they get the chance to enjoy it. Consider asking parents to step in and cover extra-long lunches that day.
World Teachers Day: Ways to Support Teachers on the Wider Stage
- Amplify their voices. Use school social media channels to share articles about World Teachers Day and the 2023 theme. Post follow-up articles about teacher shortages to start community conversation, and share thought-provoking quotes from local teachers and those around the world (see below).
- Hold a community town hall. Invite parents and other community members to a constructive dialogue about ways to tackle your school’s major teacher issues.
- Fight for teachers. Mount a letter-writing campaign to local or state government regarding teacher issues. Get students and parents involved, and push for real, meaningful change.
- Listen to teachers. School administration can use World Teachers Day as a chance to sincerely solicit teacher thoughts and opinions. Welcome their feedback, and look for concrete changes your school can make to support teacher efforts.
- Participate in planned activities. Bookmark UNESCO’s World Teachers Day page to find out what they have planned for October 5, 2023.