Happy World Teachers’ Day: Why and How to Celebrate

World Teacher Day 2021 Update Hero

No matter where you are in the world, chances are that you’ve had a teacher that you still remember for the positive impact that they made in your life—someone that helped you finally grasp a challenging concept or experience a learning moment that defined your classroom experience.

Every year on October 5, we celebrate World Teachers’ Day. It is a time to remember those special educators who supported us when we were students, and show gratitude to those who inspired us in the classroom. Not only that, but it’s also a day for you to realize how you may now impact students in the same way!

World Teachers’ Day is an annual celebration across the globe. But what does this day represent?

What Is the Importance of World Teachers’ Day?

Let’s start with a bit of background. In 1966, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, passed the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. The Recommendation established benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers. It set standards for their training and continuing education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions.

Now, UNESCO honors the anniversary of the Recommendation by celebrating World Teachers’ Day in partnership with UNICEF, UNDP, the International Labour Organization, and Education International. Around the world, you can celebrate the protection of the rights and status of teachers while attracting newcomers to the field. The day also honors teachers in light of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, which defines access to education, and quality teachers, as crucial to fulfilling the UN’s Education 2030 agenda.

This is an opportunity for you and your students to reflect on the role that educators have played in your life, and to consider ways to continue inspiring your own K–12 students each and every day in the classroom.

When Is World Teachers’ Day in 2021?

It’s been held every year on October 5 since 1994. In 2021, October 5 falls on a Tuesday.

What Is This Year's Teachers' Day Theme?

This year's World Teachers’ Day theme has not yet been announced. Last year’s theme was "Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future."

How Is World Teachers’ Day Celebrated?

Last year, UNESCO honored World Teachers’ Day with a week of virtual events, including an opening ceremony and the awarding of the 6th UNESCO Hamdan Prize for the Effectiveness of Teachers. UNESCO and its co-convening partners also featured national, regional, and global virtual events tied to the 2020 theme throughout the week to celebrate educators worldwide, share their achievements, and ensure their voices were heard. The week wrapped up with a virtual closing ceremony on October 12.

Although plans for 2021 World Teachers’ Day celebrations have yet to be announced at the time of this writing, you can follow updates and announcements on UNESCO’s website.

How Can I Celebrate World Teachers’ Day?

Now that you know all about World Teachers’ Day, let’s take a look at how you can celebrate yourself. Aside from seeking out virtual seminars or webinars that explore relevant K–12 issues, you can also hear teacher stories on podcasts like Teachers in America, dedicated to introducing you to creative and innovative American educators from countries that include Mexico, India, and Nicaragua.

After finding new teacher content to explore, think back to the moment you realized you wanted to be a teacher. Was there anybody in particular who served as your inspiration? If possible, consider reaching out and letting them know they had a powerful effect on your life and career choice.

You can also ask your own students to think back to their favorite teacher—besides you, of course—and let that teacher know why their past interactions were so meaningful. See if they can get creative, maybe by creating and designing a personal card or writing a poem expressing their gratitude. Even a simple "thank you" can make a teacher’s day.

Administrators may also want to come up with World Teachers’ Day ideas to celebrate their staff. Education leaders can, for example, encourage students and their families to create videos expressing their gratitude for teachers and post them on social media, or hold a virtual town hall to better understand the challenges they face. Alternatively, administration can take inspiration from teacher holidays like Teacher Appreciation Week to get some ideas for how to honor their staff.

By taking some time this October to thank the educators that have worked so hard throughout the challenges of these last few years, we can honor those teachers that invested in us, and in some cases, changed the course of our lives.

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Want to hear more great teacher stories? Check out the Teachers in America podcast to hear from some inspiring educators that are making a difference today. If you think that you or someone you know would make a good guest for the podcast, reach out to us at shaped@hmhco.com.

This blog post was updated in August 2020 and again in August 2021.

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