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Top 3 Teacher Appreciation Gifts—According to Teachers

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Interviews with teachers reveal what teachers really want to receive to feel appreciated

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Top 3 Teacher Appreciation Gifts to Give Teachers—Straight From Teachers Themselves

Each year during the first full week of May, students and parents around the country honor dedicated educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. Started in 1980 as “National Teacher Day,” the effort grew until the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) officially set aside Teacher Appreciation Week in 1985. (National Teacher Day is still celebrated on the Tuesday during Teacher Appreciation Week.)

Additionally, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) proclaimed October 5 to be World Teachers’ Day in 1994. World Teacher Day is celebrated by over 100 countries each year.

We all know that teachers sacrifice their time, energy, and often financial resources to create supportive learning environments for the children they are entrusted with each day and that they deserve to be honored and celebrated.

What do teachers really want to feel appreciated?

How can students and parents best communicate their gratitude for all that these amazing men and women do for our children?

To find out, we polled teachers and asked what they’d like to receive in order to feel appreciated. Below are the top three gifts to give teachers according to teachers themselves. (Note: Teachers sometimes mentioned multiple ideas, so percentages add up to more than 100%.)

A thank you note.

An overwhelming eighty-eight percent (88%) of teachers expressed that what they really loved to receive most was a personal note. Repeatedly, teachers shared that they’d kept all the notes they’d ever been given by students and parents. Tiffany, a preschool teacher, said, “I have saved every single note I ever got over the last 30 years of teaching! Other stuff is nice, however those personalized notes especially from parents who have difficult children are my most prized uplifting things I could get!”

Blakeney, a middle school history teacher, added that personalized notes from students can make the challenging days of teaching a little brighter. She explained:

“My favorite thing is a note from a student, I’ve kept every note I’ve received from my students and have used them to buoy my spirits during hard days.”

Heather, an elementary school teacher, shared a meaningful gift/note combo she once received. “One mother gave me a small bottle of lotion and a hand-written note which said, ‘Something to soften the hands of the teacher who holds my son’s heart.’ It meant the absolute world to me.”

The always-appropriate gift card.

Fifty percent (50%) of teachers said they’d love a gift card, even one for just a few dollars at a local restaurant or spa. “Something where the teacher will spend it on themselves rather than school supplies,” explained Courtney, an elementary school special education teacher. 

One high school teacher admitted that she usually lost the gift cards she received, so finding out what stores or restaurants your teacher frequents may help increase the chance of your gift card actually being used.

A personalized gift of appreciation.

Twenty percent (20%) of teachers that we interviewed said they’d love a small gift showing how much they were appreciated, especially if the gift was something personal. “I really appreciate when students have paid attention to things I love, whether it’s my favorite drink or snack or pen,” shared Blakeney.

“Gifts don’t need to be expensive or glamorous; it’s all about the thoughtfulness.”

Teachers also mentioned treats, lotion, or tickets to local shows as fun gifts they’d received.

One thing is for certain. Like all of us, teachers appreciate being appreciated. So, make sure to take the time and effort to express gratitude to the teachers who impact your life and the lives of children you love.

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