30 Ways to Thank a Teacher for a Great Year of Learning

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Photo Credit: https://flic.kr/p/aVmeYp

Last week, I had the good fortune to be in schools that did a commendable job of helping teachers feel very much appreciated. I watched as friends were honored at various luncheons, as they received clever gifts, and as their eyes watered up in response to kindnesses their students extended.

The year isn’t quite over yet, though. In fact, there is still plenty of time to thank a teacher you know for a great year of learning. Something more: saying thanks doesn’t have to cost you a fortune, either. In fact, many of the teachers I know said that they would be very grateful to be recognized in one of these fairly frugal but very meaningful ways:

1. Write a few letters

Write your favorite teacher a letter that expresses your gratitude, but don’t stop there. Write one to the teacher’s administrators as well. Write to the board of education. Make sure that those in charge of supporting this teacher’s endeavors and growth know how much you value his or her work.

2. Go viral

Express your gratitude inside of your social networks, where others in your community can see it. Then, invite your friends to like, retweet, or share.

3. Donate to a favorite charity

Make a donation to the teacher’s favorite charity: cash, talent, or time.

4. Gift cards are easy

Choose thoughtfully, and if you can, bring a group of people together to purchase a bookstore card that’s worth a significant amount. Treat your favorite teacher to a shopping spree at their favorite supply store. Chip in for a massage.

5. Nominate your teacher

Investigate local, state, national, or global competitions that you can nominate your teacher for. Once your recommendation is sent, be sure to share a copy with your teacher as well.

6. Classroom cleanup

Offer to clean the classroom from top to bottom. Dust, vacuum, scrub the floors and desks and doors.

7. Offer your services

Do you know how to do something that your teacher might benefit from? Offer your services.

8. Like her page and leave a shout out

Does your teacher have a LinkedIn page, a class website, or an about.me page? Visit, like, and leave your positive feedback behind in the comments.

9. Arrange a favorite author visit, Skype, or note

When I opened the WNY Young Writer’s Studio, a former student gave me the nicest gift: a handwritten letter from Georgia Heard, one of my favorite authors and teachers of writing. I don’t know how she found her, I don’t know how she persuaded her to write to me, and I don’t know how long it took for her to get a response. I do know that this letter is framed and sitting on the top shelf of the desk I’m working at right this minute because it is one of my favorite things.

10. End of year tear-down

The end of the year is a very stressful time for teachers. Many have to tear down their classrooms, pack up all of their teaching tools, and even cart things home. Offer to help.

11. A scrapbook of favorite moments

Ask each of the students to use various media to record their favorite memories of the teacher. Create a scrapbook (on or offline).

12. Library help

Offer to organize the classroom library. Check in books, put them in a meaningful order, and identify those in need of repair. Fix them. Offer to cover paperbacks in clear contact paper to extend wear.

13. Hand picked flowers

Make a bouquet of blooms that you select yourself.

14. A thoughtful scavenger hunt

Lead your teacher on a quick scavenger hunt through the school. Create a great surprise for the end.

15. Secret student

Many are familiar with Secret Santa, but have you ever had a secret student? Fun.

16. Rolls of quarters

Vending machines require quarters, and teachers require snacks. I rue the day my change purse is empty.

17. Door decoration

Decorate your favorite teacher’s door with notes, photos, and things that show your gratitude.

18. Mailbox full of love

Ask the entire class to write letters, and stuff them in his mailbox.

19. Serenade

Can you sing? Do that. Invite company too.

20. Make an announcement

Ask if you can have a minute on the mic during morning announcements, and use it to share your gratitude for your teacher.

21. Write a poem

Yes, you can.

22. Make a dedication

Are you soon to be recognized for something yourself? Don’t forget to thank your teacher when you accept your award.

23. Repair, replace, retool

Notice what’s broken, missing, or failing to perform to its potential. Fix it, replace it, retool it.

24. Donate your tech tools

Every time you upgrade a device, think about a teacher who might make great use of the one you’re leaving behind.

25. Donate your time or talent

Can you bake? Paint? Garden? Design? Are you social media savvy? Donate your time or your talent, and support your teacher’s projects.

26. Send a note home

This is one of my favorite ideas: write a note to your teacher’s spouse and/or family, thanking them for what they sacrifice. Share your gratitude for them and for your teacher, and be specific about how your teacher has made your life better.

27. Ice packs and Popsicles

Give your teacher a bunch on the warmest day of the year.

28. Write a letter to be opened by next year’s class

Write a letter to next year’s class, letting them know how wonderful your teacher is and advising them to make the most of their year. Give it to your teacher on the last day of school, and ask him not to open it until the fall.

29. Show up

Is your teacher winning an award? Performing in a musical? Playing drums at an all ages gig on Friday night? Show up. Clap. Let your teacher know how proud you are.

30. Put a twist on “I wish my teacher knew…”

Rather than making the prompt about your needs, use it as an opportunity to share what you’re most appreciative of.

What would you add to this list of ideas?

Which parents and kids will you share it with?

Better yet, what can you do for a fellow teacher? I’ve blogged about twenty ways to make a colleague’s day previously, and I’m looking forward to launching my eBook: The Teach Kindness Project: 52 Ways to Make a Colleague’s Day very, very soon.

By the way, you can get the book free, delivered to your inbox. Just use the sign-up form below.


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A former English teacher, Angela Stockman is the founder of the WNY Young Writer's Studio, a community of writers and teachers of writing in Buffalo, New York. She is also an education consultant with expertise in curriculum design, instructional coaching, and assessment. Read more from Angela at Angelastockman.com.

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