As promised, here's part two!

To quickly refresh - I was curious as to what makes a teacher feel appreciated. I did some research on the topic by asking several teachers about appreciation and got some great feedback.

Rachel is entering her 8th year of teaching. When I asked her what grade and subject she taught, she had a great response: “I teach kids, not subjects." And she has legitimately taught nearly a dozen subjects ranging from Spanish to Science to Special Education. Rachel is working with 5th graders this year.

Here's what Rachel had to say about appreciation:

My favorite gift of ALL time was a project that the Freshman Focus class did at Germantown High School in Madison, Mississippi. As a culmination to a unit the students were studying, their teacher taught them how to write a formal business letter and gave them an assignment. The assignment was to write a letter to a teacher who made a significant impact in their lives and why. I was overwhelmed by the sweet student letters I received. Students who rarely spoke in the class wrote the most eloquent appreciation letters. On the other hand, my sweet students who were not so slow to speak out during lessons also wrote precious words that made me feel validated as an educator. -Rachel

I do think the best way to show appreciation is by small random acts of kindness. A short email of encouragement, a note to the principal letting them know what an impact the teacher is making on your child, the teacher’s favorite Sonic drink in the morning, volunteering to be room mom, or watching the students so the teacher can attend luncheons (depending on the age/school). -Rachel

Teachers love what they do and are simple creatures to please. Showing appreciation doesn't have to cost a lot of money or take tons of time. It just takes a little effort to acknowledge that educators are on the front line. We not only teach our students how to read and write, but we also teach them life skills that they will take with them the rest of their lives. We listen to hurts, put band-aids on boo-boos, and get excited when our students grow and achieve. Feeling appreciated gives a dog-tired teacher a little pep in her step and helps her with the task of developing the next generation of productive Americans. P.S. - If all else fails, Starbucks gift certificates are awesome, too. -Rachel

I REALLY like the idea of sharing a note with the principal on the teacher’s impact - something I hadn't thought of at all! Thank you, Rachel! These are great ideas.

Sarah has been teaching for five years. She's a High School Math teacher (and cheer coach).

Here's what Sarah had to say:

Teaching high schoolers, I don't get a lot of gifts from students and when I do it's usually Visa gift cards or cash from my cheerleaders around special occasions (like the end of year banquet, Christmas or competition season). I think the best thing that shows appreciation is a personalized note. Some of my students will leave me letters or cards randomly telling me how much I've helped them or inspired them, and that means the most to me. -Sarah

We seem to do so much for our teachers during the student's younger years, but less as the student gets older. Maybe it's because parents are usually the driving force behind the thoughtfulness in younger years?

When Sarah said she didn't get many gifts, it made me a little sad. It's probably not a huge deal to her, and she's probably happy with the appreciation she receives. Plus, it would probably be odd to have high school students create thumbprint art as a gift? It did make me think of those challenging high school years (and what it would be like to be on the other side of the desk).

I am quite far from having a teenager in high school, so I have no idea what factors (or hormones) are at play. I won't even pretend to know anything about raising a teen. What I do want to strive for is making sure my kids grow up with a sense of gratitude. Not sure how that will manifest itself in their day-to-day life, but that's what we'll work to achieve. I don't want a kid that's a "suck-up," but I do want a kid that is grateful and recognizes when to verbalize that feeling.

This is a great topic for further exploration, just need to find more high school teachers.

Shannon is entering her 17th year teaching elementary (Kindergarten, 1st Grade and now 2nd Grade)

Some of my favorite appreciation gifts have been class made. They hang in my kitchen or are things I use. I love my pottery pieces the kids have made me. -Shannon

For everyday appreciation, just a simple sonic drink, Starbucks, or a text asking what I might want for lunch are the best. Teachers don’t always get to go out for lunch. One of my favorite gifts to get (and to give my sons' teachers) is a complete meal. I've given a casserole, with a salad and dessert. It is so nice to leave school and know that dinner is almost ready. -Shannon

Volunteering in the classroom or offering to do something at home is wonderful. I love when parents can sort graded papers into mailboxes, run copies, or take workbooks home and tear out pages. These are all very helpful! -Shannon

Notes of thanks (not necessarily at predictable times such as holidays) are always nice. Often, we only hear from parents when they have concerns. It's nice to hear a thank you for doing little things. I had a family one year ask me what I wanted for Christmas. I joked and told them construction paper. They bought me a large box with a rainbow of colors. That was so much better than the Starbucks gift card (not that they are not appreciated, but we get A LOT of those). The most appreciated I have ever felt was when my daughter and I had the flu. The parents in my class arranged to bring meals to my house, and I had a family send me flowers at home. That was so thoughtful. -Shannon

The meal idea is a very cool! Also really love the construction paper example. And I can also see how notes not necessarily predictable times would be welcome. Thanks, Shannon!

I’ve learned a lot through this exercise and I want to thank my teacher friends for sharing.

To summarize (part one and part two):
  • Making a teacher feel appreciated doesn’t have to cost money.
    • Positive communication is always welcome, and they don’t get it nearly enough.
    • Random notes of appreciation are awesome.
    • Send a note to the principal regarding the positive impact the teacher is making on your child.

  • Be involved, whether that’s volunteering to help the teacher or simply partnering with them in the education of your child:
    • Note: If you work full-time and can’t help in the classroom during the day, ask if you can help with something after 5 pm.

  • Regarding physical tokens of appreciation - thoughtful and/or sentimental gifts are the best. Examples:
    • Their favorite Sonic drink.
    • A prepared dinner.
    • Classroom supplies they need (and would possibly have to pay for out-of-pocket).
    • Starbucks gift card.
    • The gift made by the entire class (pottery, art, etc.).

I hope you find this helpful. I know it’s changed my perspective on the topic.

And if you have other ideas, please share in the comment section below!