National Teacher Appreciation Week 2020: How to Celebrate Virtually

They inspire curiosity and a lifelong love of learning. They’re experts at boosting confidence through the right mix of motivation and instruction. They serve alternately as student-squabble mediator, supportive listener, and all-around problem fixer. And now they’re doing it all remotely, as schools across the country have closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Teacher Appreciation Week is a chance to thank educators for all they do to ensure that students succeed in school and in life.

When Is Teacher Appreciation Week in 2020?

This year it takes place from Monday, May 4, through Friday, May 8.

The week-long celebration is the culmination of a 40-year push to establish a National Teacher Day. According to the National Education Association (NEA), a Wisconsin teacher named Ryan Krug began writing to political leaders around 1944 about the need for a national day to recognize teachers for their hard work and dedication to students. Arkansas teacher Mattie Whyte Woodridge took up the cause. She wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, who in 1953 convinced Congress to proclaim a National Teachers Day.

“I have always felt that we did not give an honorable enough place in our communities to the teachers,” Roosevelt wrote in her newspaper column, “My Day,” after Congress designated the first Tuesday of March as National Teachers Day. “Next to parents they are the most important people in our communities.”

In 1985, the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week. The NEA then voted to mark National Teachers Day on the Tuesday that begins Appreciation Week.

Check out our ideas for celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week during the COVID-19 crisis.

National Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas for Students and Staff

Know any teachers with serious tech skills? How about teachers who always know how to put a smile on your face? Join HMH in honoring them on social media with one of these shout-outs: Most Tech Savvy; Most Likely to Brighten Your Day; Biggest Student Champion; First-Rate Leader. Use the hashtag #HeroesAtHome.

Below you'll find more ideas on how administrators, parents, students, and even teachers can show their appreciation for educators—this week and all year long.

Ways Administrators Can Thank Teachers

Show Your Support

Saying you support your teachers is great. Demonstrating your support is even more powerful. Here are some ideas:

  • Don't have the budget for a gift card to help teachers get the resources they need for a class project? Offer to write a grant to fund the project through DonorsChoose.
  • Give teachers a break. Take over a teacher’s virtual lesson for one class period. Or, hold a town hall meeting with the class to gauge how kids are doing, how their school work is going, and what changes might improve their learning experience.
  • Start a fund to help pay for teachers to attend workshops and conferences.
  • Hold a virtual town hall with teachers. Ask them to share challenges they face, how they are working to overcome them, and what you might do to lighten their load.

Launch a Thank-You Campaign

Start a video campaign to thank teachers in your school or district. Begin by posting a call for “thank-you” videos on your school’s website, Facebook page, or Instagram or Twitter account. Your invitation might read something like this: Have a teacher who inspires you? It’s time to let that person know. Record yourself or your child thanking a teacher. Use these prompts if you’re having trouble getting started:

  • Thank you, (Teacher’s Name), for ______ .
  • (Teacher’s Name) made a big difference in my life by ______ .
  • Thanks to (Teacher’s Name), I’m now able to ______ .

Ask those submitting videos to include the hashtag #ThankATeacher when posting their video to social media.

Ways Parents and Students Can Thank Teachers

Give Teachers a Shout-Out

The COVID-19 pandemic has given caregivers everywhere an up-close look at the relentless and often thankless job of educators. Take a cue from TV and film writer Shonda Rhimes, who showed her appreciation for educators in this tweet:

Let your children’s teachers know you recognize their hard work. Give them a shout-out on the school’s Facebook page or on another social media platform. Your message could point out something you admire about teachers and their work from home, or it might describe one way the teacher has helped your child.

Write a Thank-You Note, Poem, or Song

Talk with your children about teachers. Ask: Why do we need teachers? How do they help us? What makes their job difficult? Why do you think someone might choose to become a teacher? Then have them think about a particularly inspirational teacher. Ask: What makes this teacher inspirational? How did he or she inspire you? What could you thank this teacher for?

Have younger students complete the sentence: Thank you, (Teacher’s Name), for _______. Then draw a picture to accompany the note. You could post a photo of the note (or your child holding up the note) on social media or mail it to the teacher.

Older students could write a thank-you letter, poem, or song. If they need help getting started, answering these questions might help:

  • What is one way your teacher has helped or inspired you?
  • What are you now able to do thanks to your teacher’s help or inspiration?
  • What do you wish for your teacher’s future?

Ways Teachers Can Celebrate Each Other

Pass It On

That classroom management trick that works every time? That simple strategy for helping students understand fractions? Teachers aren’t reinventing the wheel. They’re borrowing best practices from each other. Why not share the best tip or advice you ever got from a fellow teacher on social media?

Honor Your Favorite Teacher

Which teachers from your childhood sparked your curiosity, made you love math, supported your interests, or listened to your concerns? Track those teachers down and send an email or letter describing how they impacted your life. If you can’t find an address, give them a shout-out on social media using the hashtag #ThankATeacher.

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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Join HMH in our celebration of teachers. Give them a shout-out on social media that spotlights their particular talents: Most Tech Savvy; Most Likely to Brighten Your Day; Biggest Student Champion; First-Rate Leader. Use the hashtag #HeroesAtHome.

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