Disclosure: Human Rights Careers may be compensated by course providers.

20 Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week

Education is a human right, and teachers play an essential role in ensuring that right is respected. Several holidays honor teachers, but Teacher Appreciation Week takes place every year in the first full week of May. It’s recognized in the United States, but many countries honor the work and commitment of their teachers. Here are 20 ways students, parents, schools, businesses, and nonprofits can celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week:

# Item
1 Thank you notes
2 Gift cards
3 Office supplies
4 Volunteer
5 School supply drive
6 Awards
7 Thank you videos
8 Field trip
9 Appreciation party
10 Teacher’s lounge treats
11 Recognition of long-serving teachers
12 Professional development
13 Teachers unions
14 Discounts
15 Catered meal
16 Book donations
17 Monetary donations
18 Classroom upgrades
19 Fundraiser
20 Increased understanding

#1. Write thank you notes

Thank you notes are a simple, but powerful way for students and parents to show their appreciation to teachers. Start with a list of your teachers’ names, stationery, and writing tools. If a child is old enough to write notes on their own, parents can add their own thank you to the note or write a separate card if they want. Young students will need some help from their parents, but knowing a student took the time to sign their names means a lot to teachers.

#2. Give out gift cards

Gifts are a great way to celebrate teachers, but they often get flooded with candy and coffee mugs. Generic gift cards to online retailers, your teacher’s favorite local businesses, or even just prepaid debit cards give people more flexibility to buy exactly what they want and need. If you worry these feel too impersonal, add a note.

#3. Give office supplies

Teachers constantly go through pens, pencils, highlighters, and other basic office products. Because school budgets are very tight, teachers often pay for their own supplies. For Teacher Appreciation Week, you can give supplies as presents. Many teachers share the supplies they have with students, but if you want them to have something nicer just for themselves, buy some higher-end products and add a note suggesting they use it for grading papers or other outside-the-classroom tasks.

#4. Volunteer in the classroom

Teachers often need volunteers to help with classroom setup, classroom management, technology support, and more. While teachers often turn to the pool of parents at a school, other members of the community can volunteer, too! There are certain requirements, such as passing a background check. Volunteers are important partners in the school system as they make life easier for teachers while serving as positive role models for students.

#5. Hold a school supply drive

Teachers earn fairly low salaries, but they often need to pay for school supplies from their own pockets. According to Education Week, teachers earning between $35,000-$50,000 in the United States spend about $715 of their own money every year on school supplies. A school supply drive helps teachers and students. Many schools hold their own drives you can give to, but you can also create your own and promote it on social media and in your community.

#6. Nominate a teacher for an award

Schools, education agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations offer teacher awards. Parents, students, colleagues, administrators, and others can often nominate teachers, depending on the specific award. Nominations may open at different times, but it’s a great way to recognize an exceptional teacher in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.

#7. Make a thank you video

Individuals, schools, businesses, and nonprofits can make thank-you videos that recognize specific teachers, schools, or teachers in general. The filmmaker can contact different community members, like students, and ask what their teachers mean to them. Videos are also a great project for students interested in filmmaking. The final product can be posted on social media and played for schools.

There are lots of video production tools available for people who aren’t experts. Here are 10 tools that work well for small NGOs.

#8. Help with a field trip

Students benefit greatly from field trips, but they’re expensive and hard to organize. Teachers get overwhelmed with all the associated tasks. Community members can offer to help with organizing, costs, or chaperoning. If you have connections to an appropriate field trip location, like a museum, see if you can leverage those connections to get discounts, special activities, or other perks.

#9. Host an appreciation party

Schools can show appreciation to their teachers by organizing a party. It can take place during lunch or after school hours, depending on what makes the most sense and is most convenient for everyone. Teachers have enough to do during the week, so they should not have to plan anything related to their own appreciation party. It can be an event where students are welcome or it can be something reserved for adults.

#10. Put special treats in the teacher’s lounge

To honor all the hard work teachers do, school districts can supply the teacher’s area with special items like high-quality coffee, tea, new snacks, and small gifts. If there’s an area of the lounge that’s old or boring, the administration can also upgrade that section.

#11. Recognize long-serving teachers

Teacher Appreciation Week is a great time to honor the teachers who have been serving students the longest. Students, parents, and administrators can work together to organize a recognition ceremony, awards, refreshments, and anything else that may be needed. If any teachers are leaving or retiring after the school year, they should be recognized, as well.

#12. Offer professional development opportunities

Like any professional, teachers want to strengthen their skills, leadership, and career prospects. Schools can provide opportunities for development through workshops, seminars, courses, and more. The school should always pay for opportunities or at least offer a significant discount. Teachers should ideally not have to pay for their own professional development.

#13. Learn what teacher unions are doing

Teacher unions have a long history in places like the United States. As collective bargaining groups, they represent the needs of teachers regarding pay, benefits, work conditions, and more. If you’re interested in what teachers are fighting for, research the unions in your area and see what issues they’re currently working on.

#14. Offer discounts on products and services

Businesses like restaurants and coffee shops can celebrate teachers in the community through special discounts. They can cut a certain percentage off of purchased items, offer special deals on gift cards, give free products with purchases, and more. Teachers typically need to show a faculty ID. Some places let teachers collect deals all week while others offer one-time deals. Certain businesses offer teacher discounts all year long!

#15. Pay for a catered meal

Individuals and organizations can connect with a school and organize a catered meal for all the teachers and faculty. Restaurants can offer to cater for free, while other entities (like businesses, community groups, and religious organizations) can simply pick up the tab. Any allergies, food sensitivities, and cultural restrictions should be accommodated.

#16. Donate books to school libraries

Buying books is a complicated process for many schools. According to Education Week, 35 states in the United States don’t provide direct aid for school libraries. These schools have to pull from district funds or state funds that aren’t specifically earmarked for books. Many schools don’t even have a librarian. For those that do, librarians often have to use their own money to update their shelves. Book donations, specifically new books that teachers actually want, can help. Always ask before you stop by with a box of books and understand that every book has to be evaluated.

#17. Donate money to schools

Every teacher deserves a well-funded school. Unfortunately, education is overlooked in many places, which leaves teachers scrambling to meet the needs of their students. For Teacher Appreciation Week, individuals, businesses, and nonprofits can make donations to local schools. There’s typically a process you need to follow where the school board can either accept or reject a donation. You can also donate through nonprofits such as DonorsChoose, which lets individuals give to American public school classroom projects.

#18. Pay for teachers to upgrade their classrooms

Teachers spend a lot of time setting up their classrooms. The learning environment is crucial to student success, but if teachers don’t have the funds they need, they’re left with dull, uninspiring rooms. If they want a brighter, motivating space, they often need to spend their own money. Individuals, businesses, and nonprofits can help by offering to pay for upgrades. That can include new seating, supplies, new rugs, new technology, and more.

#19. Host a fundraiser

Fundraisers are a great way to raise money for teachers, build community, and raise awareness of the challenges facing schools. Before Teacher Appreciation Week, fundraiser hosts should talk to schools and teachers to identify their needs, establish clear goals, and discuss strategies. When the fundraiser begins, hosts can market it far and wide with social media, local TV and radio, flyers, and other platforms.

#20. Learn what teachers need from the community

Teacher Appreciation Week lasts just a few days, but teachers need support all year round. To celebrate the teachers of the world, everyone should learn what challenges teachers face, what they need to do their jobs, and how individuals, nonprofits, governments, and others can help. Depending on the area, teachers are often underpaid and overworked. They can even face threats to their lives in places where education is under attack. To truly celebrate teachers, the world needs to understand what they go through.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.