Inside: Teacher Appreciation during distance learning and the quarantine can still be meaningful with these social distancing- safe ideas.
I joke that I’m a recovering elementary school teacher.
Other teachers usually chuckle when they hear it because they know.
Being a teacher is amazing, and uplifting, and rewarding.
But it’s also exhausting and thankless (usually) and overwhelming.
So every year, parents and PTAs spend the first week of May showering our teachers with love and appreciation.
We host potluck lunches and send in a hand-picked flower from our yard and gifts showing our gratitude.
But now that we’re all quarantined, we’ve all come to have a deeper understanding and a much deeper appreciation for all our teachers do for our children daily.
Teachers are incredible on a good day.
But now we’re all distance learning. Teachers send virtual lesson plans and prep zoom calls or record videos of themselves reading or being silly or trying to connect with our kids in meaningful ways… all while trying to homeschool their own kids.
Teachers are superheroes.
So just because we can’t do our normal Teacher Appreciation activities, doesn’t mean we should skip Teacher Appreciation Week altogether.
In fact, because of distance learning and everything our teachers have done for our kids to keep this as normal as possible for them, we should double down our displays of gratitude and go big this May for Teacher Appreciation Week, all while maintaining social distancing.
You don’t have to give teachers all your toilet paper or send them wine or your last bottle of coveted hand sanitizer (although I’m sure all of those things would be eagerly received).
But there are simple ways our kids can thank their teachers during our social distancing quarantining, even if our kids aren’t in the classroom with them.
Why Appreciating our Teachers Is So Important:
The first full week in May is Teacher Appreciation Week. And every year, parents around the world band together to make sure our teachers feel loved and appreciated.
Kids usually draw notes and bring in thoughtful gifts and flowers.
It’s a small way to thank our teachers for all their hard work and dedication.
Spending time to be grateful and show gratitude towards others is essential to helping our kids realize how we are interconnected. And science has proven time and time again that grateful people are happier people.
So if we’re going to spend time being grateful, we should throw some of that gratitude towards or incredible educators.
Teacher Appreciation During Distance Learning Ideas:
The “normal” ways of thanking teachers won’t work anymore since we’re no longer in “normal” times. With distance learning and quarantining during the Covid-19 Pandemic, it’s important for us to find new ways to appreciate our teachers, while maintaining our social distancing so we all stay safe and healthy.
1. Draw a picture, make a poster, write a letter
Your kids can draw a picture of them and their teacher during a Zoom or they can reminisce to when they were back in class together. Or go big and instead of a small picture, they can make a poster.
Older kids can write them a letter sharing why they love their teacher or younger kids can dictate the letter for you to write down.
How do you get these drawings and cards and posters to them during social distancing? Take a picture of the card or letter and email it to their teacher. Or mail it to them if they’re comfortable giving you their home address.
2. Make them a craft project
A craft present does double duty. It shows appreciation and it gives your child a meaningful activity to do that doesn’t involve screens.
Your students can make them this flower craft about what they love about their teacher.
3. Find out your teacher’s favorite color and have the whole class wear that color on their next zoom call.
Have your child ask their teacher what their favorite color is. Then send an email or message to all the parents in your class encouraging kids to wear that color during a Zoom call with their teacher during the first week of May for Teacher Appreciation Week.
When your teacher logs on and sees the gallery view, they’ll notice that a sea of their favorite color staring back at them. It’s a small, but mighty, message that everyone was thinking of them.
4. Send them a digital gift card
Teachers LOVE gift cards as gifts. It’s actually the #1 most requested and appreciated gift teachers receive.
So many stores allow you to send virtual gift cards so you don’t have to go to the store and buy it and then you won’t have to mail it.
You can send them a virtual gift card to Amazon or Target or Starbucks or your local grocery store.
On Amazon, you can make your gift card animated and in any amount.
5. Donate to a virtual food drive in their name.
With schools being closed, so many teachers worry that their students will not eat nutritious meals. 13 million children in the US (1 in 6 kids) are food insecure which means they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
You can donate to a local food bank in your teacher’s name… which is easy with virtual food drives. Here are a few to choose from OR google “virtual food drive” and your town to get a more regional food drive.
6. Send their family dinner through Grub Hub or Doordash.
If you have a good relationship with your child’s teacher, you can reach out and ask them what their favorite restaurant is and send them dinner through a delivery service. This only works if your child’s teacher is comfortable giving you their home address. If that’s too personal for them or for you, you can also send them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
7. Head to the school and chalk a parking spot for them with thank you messages and encouraging notes…then ask them to drive by and check it out.
If you have sidewalk chalk, head to school and decorate a parking spot for them.
Or you can collaborate with other families in your class and stagger the decorating time so different families go at different times.
Then ask your teacher to head to the school to see it. If your teacher is unable to, take a picture or video of your decorations and send it to them.
If it snows where you live, then do this instead of chalk to leave them a message.
8. Purchase them a gift for their classroom or for their virtual background
Help spread even more kindness by gifting your teacher with these Kindness Classroom ePosters. They can print them out and hang them in their virtual background or they can save them for when everyone is back in school.
9. Host a Class Parade in their honor
There are birthday parades and goodbye parades and say ‘hi’ to grandpa parades.
Teachers are doing parades for their students, so why not flip it and do one for them for Teacher Appreciation Week?
Ask your teacher to head to the school parking lot and park there at a specific time. If the school parking lot is closed or unusable, pick a safe street corner and ask them to park their car there or use a church or temple parking lot.
Ask the students in your class to meet around the corner with decorated cars and signs thanking their teacher then head towards your waiting teacher honking and waving sings. Just make sure you have someone record it and then send it to your teacher.
Big or small, coordinated event or a simple thank you letter…it really doesn’t matter as long as we take the time to focus on teacher appreciation during distance learning.
Teachers are usually good with a simple “thank you for everything you do.” As long as it’s heartfelt.
Because when we take the time to appreciate our teachers, to really let them know how much they mean to us, we’re doing more than just showing our kids’ teachers we value them.
We’re also showing our kids that we value both their teacher and their education.
Even if school buildings are closed and we can only see our teachers remotely and we can’t bring them a hand-picked flower from our yard.