Teacher appreciation — Too much or too little?

If your school’s schedule is anything like ours, Teacher Appreciation Week should be popping up any time now.

Our school had it last week, and I know lots of other districts did too. Our school goes all out for our teachers. The PTA puts out a schedule of events that the whole school follows. (I heard they had to start mandating what was done because room moms went crazy trying to outdo each other. Another friend said that wasn’t true. They weren’t competing. They just felt bad if their teacher didn’t get treated as well as another.)

This year:

Monday was thank you notes sent in by the kids and put into a decorative presentation by the room moms. (My co-room mom went crazy and had the thank yous interspersed into floral arrangements for the teacher and para-pro.)

Tuesday was wear your teacher’s favorite color day. (We had wanted to order our teacher personalized M&Ms and thought this was a good chance to do it. We ordered them in her favorite color and wrote “We love you!” and her name on them)

Wednesday was a school-wide potluck luncheon. God bless the poor woman that coordinated that thing! You wouldn’t have believed the emails flying around trying to get it organized. You would have thought the queen or the president were coming to town!  There were almost 50 room mom names on the note.  Besides each class donating a main, side and dessert, we had volunteers come in to man the luncheon and the classroom so the teacher could have a slightly longer lunch. (I got to be with our class, which was actually really fun!)

Thursday was donate a new or gently used book to your classroom. (That was easy enough.)

Friday was bring in gifts for your teacher and para-pro.  The parents in the class donated money that we used for the gifts. We got our main teacher a $25 gift card to the movies and $40 (I think) gift card to her favorite restaurant. We got the para-pro a $25 gift card to the movies also. My co-room mom got cute popcorn buckets and put the gift cards in with their favorite candy.

My only complaint about Teacher Appreciation Week is that I think they need to schedule it for February when nothing else is going on! It’s very hard to pull off that much stuff at the end of the year. Plus, it’s not the last week of school so I don’t feel like that should count as her end-of-the year present.

A good friend of mine who teaches at a different Gwinnett County school commented that “Believe me, my room mothers didn’t go out of their way this week.” They told her they were bringing her in lunch. So she didn’t bring in lunch that day, and no one ever came in.

How does your school handle Teacher Appreciation Week? Is it a week, is it day? Are the classes on their own to pick celebrations? Does the school set a schedule for the school to follow? Do the parents participate? Do they send in what they’re asked to do? Do you think it’s reasonable, appropriate or necessary to do an Appreciation Week?

71 comments Add your comment


May 12th, 2009
8:59 pm

HB…your point is well taken. The reason I am opposed to the whooping out loud is because THERE IS NO TIME TO PAUSE FOR A FEW SECONDS and then the noisy folks hollering drown out the names of the children whose parents are using their manners.

Do the math, how long does it take to call off 700 names for a ceremony…it is a NON stop clip and then many parents DO NOT even hear their own child’s name called….would you be fine with it if the row in front of you ( at the CIVIC CENTER…can you get a visual) had folks standing and screaming their heads off so that you could not even see nor hear your own child? I realize that many folks outside of Gwinnett County cannot even fathom that you only get 7 or 8 tickets for folks to attend graduation, due to the enormous size of the classes.
If there were time, the jubilation might be workable but THERE IS NO TIME and it ruins it for others.


May 12th, 2009
9:03 pm

Do you hoot and hollar at your wedding? Graduation is a CEREMONY you share with hundreds of others. If you want to raise h3ll, do it at home.

On TA week: we have only about 5 active PTA members from a school of 630. We have a very modest luncheon provided (rush in rush out, no time to eat there). One of the nicest things they ever did was to sponsor theluncheon AND provide one hour subs so we could eat slowly and talk. Hey, one day out of 180. We also had a dessert provided one day. The banks in town do something, like give us cups (with their names on them) or pens. No one that I am aware of gets a card or gift at all. We appreciate what is done for us, however. Teachers treasure the verbal bouquets we get at the most unexpected times.

Happened to me a couple of months ago. I ran into a former student who now has a responsible position. I taught him when he was 5. Now I work with a different group of kids, and he was asking me about it. Then he said, “Well, I am glad you did not do some other group when it was my time in kindergarten.” I left in tears, my heart pounding.

32 Years In

May 12th, 2009
9:03 pm

As a long time teacher, I’ve always appreciated anything that parents have done to show their appreciation for my hard work. I’ve never expected anything, but sincere notes from the students were always special. My current school is in a middle to low-middle class neighborhood, and our PTA does a nice job with a welcome back lunch during our preplanning week, and lunch during Teacher Appreciation week. With regards to the PTA organizing Teacher Appreciation Week, I think this is something that is sponsored nationally by the PTA organization. I always work hard to have a good rapport with my parents and students, consequently my parents have usually been very generous. I’ve always found it interesting that the student that usually requires the most attention (academically, behaviorally, school supplies, etc) comes from the family that does not support PTA membership or attend school functions. Yes, I agree that teachers collect a monthly paycheck and should not expect anything more beyond that, but it’s always nice to feel like your efforts are appreciated. Teaching is not an 8 to 3 job, and like motherjanegoose said, some teachers do worry about their students and wake up worrying about them. I think you would be surprised about how many do just that!
Also, JJ, while you are whooping and hollering for your graduate, the name announced after your child won’t be heard. This child may have worked just as hard as yours or more so… not really fair to that child’s family. This happened to my child at her high school and college graduation. We FINALLY had the pleasure of hearing her name during her hooding ceremony for her Master’s degree.


May 12th, 2009
10:23 pm

MJG – major dress code at graduation, here. Under their gowns, boys wear uniform shirt and tie (thank GOD they don’t have to wear the blazer), khaki pants and dress shoes, girls wear a black dress or black skirt and black top (can wear sundress, but no strapless, halter or spaghetti straps, straps minimum 2-fingers wide) and dress shoes. Flip flops or tennis shoes would be cause for not being allowed to walk. And yes, the school would know ahead of time, because there’s a class breakfast at 7:30 am before graduation at 9. It is a ceremony and is treated as such. (But yeah, they do toss their caps at the end – and everyone ducks, because those sharp corners can bruise!)

Whoop and holler after EVERYONE has received their diploma and had their moment to shine. Your kid knows you’re there, they know you’re proud, and you can sit there and cry happily and it will be just as meaningful. Everyone else in there is just as proud, happy and relieved as you are.

We will have 20 family members in attendance, as there is a family reunion the next afternoon. I’m SO glad we don’t have to worry about tickets!


May 12th, 2009
10:26 pm

For JJ- Congratulations to you and your daughter. It is a HUGE milestone for both of you. Enjoy your special day!

the smiling sub

May 12th, 2009
10:31 pm

My favorite teacher appreciation gift for my son’s teachers has always been to purchase books/gift certificates at the school’s book fair. In elementary school the teachers had book requests, and my son enjoyed chosing from his teacher’s list. Now that he is in middle school, few teachers had requests, but the book fair had gift certificates available. This way my son knows his teachers will like their gifts; it fits our budget; it comes at a monetarily convenient time of year; the school benefits from the book fair sales; the teachers are suprised and seem truly delighted.


May 12th, 2009
11:52 pm

MJG, I figure 700 names will take about 1/3 less time than it took to call out 1000+ names in Arts & Sciences when I graduated from Emory. They made sure to have a great loud sound system (I’m sure a Civic Center would have the needed equipment), people had a brief moment for a quick cheer (not a huge break between names, but not rapid fire), and I heard no complaints from anyone after. Had they called names at a faster clip, they may have shaved half an hour off, but what’s more important –20 more minutes once a year to give each grad a nice little moment or getting out as fast as possible? I guess I just don’t understand the need to be somber and don’t see a graduation ceremony as being similar to a traditional wedding ceremony. In my experience having graduated 3 times, the rules-laden, please-be-quiet-and-dignified-on-this-solemn-occasion high school ceremony was the least enjoyable. The other two ceremonies had a lighter, but not chaotic feel, and were more fun, yet still felt like very special and dignified events.


May 13th, 2009
12:40 am

Kati, many nurses (fill in the blank) share you same sentiments re: 3:57pm post.

I personally don’t need (and certainly rarely receive) gifts from my patients or employers. I know I do the best job I can possibly do. I do it for the right reasons too. Sure it would be nice. I am just happy when I get the occasional patient or family member that acknowledges my compassion. That’s all I need. Nothing monetary.

KC, the world needs more teachers like you! I think I worked with someone just like you when I was a school nurse. She was also a special ed. teacher. Thanks for all you do!


May 13th, 2009
6:58 am

Practicing the Golden Rule is not a sacrifice; it is an investment.


May 13th, 2009
10:57 am

Any ideas for middle school teachers? We have had so many this year. I don’t want to break my bank account, but would like to get each one somthing. (roughly 10-12 if you count PE, Band, Art, etc.)


May 13th, 2009
11:13 am

JJ…I can appreciate you are a proud parent and have went through #@!! to get your daughter to graduation day. However, I think there are more appropriate ways to convey your enthusiasm and excitement to your daughter and to the world….like speaking well of her accomplishments, hard work and effort. Those words will last a lifetime. If every parent displayed the behavior of yelling and whistling the graduation ceremony would take on the atmosphere of a pep rally. Every parent is proud to see their child graduate, some more so than others. I would never consider taking away another parent’s privilege of hearing their child’s name called. For the record, my daughter almost did not graduate. She was critically injured in a car wreck her Senior year and had a 5% chance of survival. By the grace of God she made it, but not without a lot of work behind the scenes…constant at home care, home schooling to catch up and stay current, etc. I was not only proud to see her walk, I was proud to have her with us after beating the odds.


May 13th, 2009
12:00 pm

N&M, have your child write a thank you note to each teacher, finding at least one thing to say that they enjoyed about that teacher’s class. That’s all any teacher (and really, any of us) really wants — to be acknowledged and thanked for their efforts. (And for the English teacher’s sake, at least, make sure the grammar and punctuation is correct!) No teacher needs another $10 tsotske piece of clutter. If you insist, go by Costco and buy movie theatre tickets, and give one to each teacher with the thank you note (two if you’re splurging). Or a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble or Borders. Or to the School Box, or something like that.


May 13th, 2009
12:04 pm

BTW, can I put in a shout-out for the librarians of the world? Librarians spend so much time helping kids with research, choosing books, planning readings, author visits, etc., etc., and very few of them get the acknowledged at all. When you are thinking about thanking school folks, don’t forget the librarian!

(And at our school, the PTA had a committee that also provided treats for the facilities staff every month. Anyone who has had to clean up after one kid can probably appreciate the effort required for cleaning up after 500!)


May 13th, 2009
12:36 pm

Melissa, thank you for your comments, and I do understand. I tend to get overly excited about stuff like this.

Chances are, I won’t hoot and holler due to my upbringing, and consideration of others. I do WANT to hear my child’s name, and I know every other parent does too…….

It’s like when they were little in elementary school, and did a play or choir performance. I always got annoyed with the parent in the front row who stood up to video their child, interrupting MY video of MY child. I have more videos of the back of other parents heads, than I do of my child performing…….LOL..


May 13th, 2009
4:15 pm

Melissa…great contribution and I am so happy you have your precious daughter. Your thoughts were wonderful and I think we all learned something here…which is what is so great bout this blog…we agree to disagree and every once in a while we learn something too!

DB…Amen about the clutter…most teachers have way too many! I LOVE coffee mugs but I have so many that the cabinet is overflowing and many are from former students….LOL.
I bought my movie tickets yesterday at Costco….about $7.50 each….for the H.S. teachers.
I think Bruster’s gift cards are fun too ….$5 will get you a waffle cone and teachers may need a cool chocolate treat….LOL!

mr nice guy

May 13th, 2009
10:45 pm

This is very important article. As you can see, many teachers are not properly recognized in many countries of the world. Teacher appreciation should be partnered by many people to have a well-defined community

mr nice guy

May 13th, 2009
10:47 pm

great article


May 14th, 2009
4:17 pm

We fundraise as the “Parent’s club” and during Teacher Appecaition, we spend some of the money on the teachers. My kids go to a religious school, and the teachers don’t make as mucha s hey could in Public schools, so we try to make them feel really good about their decision to stay with us!! We do a breakfast one day, a dessert assortment (mostly home-baked by volunteer moms), a gift of a plant another day, and the best thing – we had a masseuse come in and give 15 minute spa treatments. The teachers could choose what they were comfortable with – some went with a hand massage, but most choose a shoulder and neck massage. They loved it!!! One teacher had the day off (she is a PT art teacher) and she came in on her day off to get her massage!


May 15th, 2009
7:37 am

maria….loved the massage idea…how clever!

In Higher Edu

May 15th, 2009
3:48 pm


I see you tried to backtrack, BUT if you plan to hoop and holler for a child who barely made it, how would you have behaved if she made the top 10% of her class? All of us are proud of our kids and remember, WE should be our girls role models!! And the graduation is really a COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY…it is formal and we need to display our manners in that setting.


May 15th, 2009
7:06 pm

Suggestions for a middle school teacher? Cute Post It notes, a package or two of pens/pencils, KleenexKleenexKleenex—kids these days always have a cold!! I keep Kleenex on a Roll (toilet paper) in my room….can’t afford all the tissue it would take. Bottle of Germ-X, cleaning wipes, markers, highlighters….

I teach in a poor school and often spend a fortune each year for supplies….a box of manilla folders (1/3 or 1/5 cut, please) would send me into ecstasy!

A gift card to Staples or some similar store….Wal-Mart, etc.

The smallest things add up when we are buying them regularly….

And a card with a sincere note is wonderful!!