An alum of mine posted a picture of drinks on my Facebook wall for Teacher Appreciation Week.  She told me I was awesome and said she’d buy me “tea,” but she suspected she’d put something else in the tea.  I wonder if she thought I needed it.

The absolute best part wasn’t the appreciation–it was that this student was a school hater in her day.  She’s now working on her second degree raising a family.  That’s what teachers do when we make relationships and let kids follow passions.  It’s often impossible to realize the impact of that in real time.

That’s why it’s Teacher Appreciation Week.

I don’t know what genius put Teacher Appreciation Week in the middle of Standardized Testing Month, but it must’ve been someone with his own HBO Comedy special ready to release.

We’ll have to take on the issue of appreciation ourselves.

Top Ways to Show Yourself Appreciation on a Budget

  1. Use your personal day.  Many teachers get “personal days,” and never use them.  Use yours–but don’t do laundry, clean, or correct papers.  Do something you like to do that you don’t usually get around to.
  2. Pack yourself a special lunch.  You know those days when you grab five apples on the way out the door thinking, “I’ll eat these,” and you’re disappointed at lunch time?  Pack something good.  If you’re in a city, order out with a coupon.
  3. Put a new plant in your room.  Make sure it’s not illegal like peyote or poisonous like a poinsettia or something that’ll kill small children, and that it’s hearty enough to defend itself from the masses.  I like cacti.
  4. Hide some chocolate in your desk.  Chocolate has been scientifically proven to cure most things.  You need more.  Don’t keep a jar on your desk, because then you’ll have to share with the world.  Teacher Appreciation Week is about you.
  5. Play YOUR music all day.  No kid songs, no generational music.  You.  If you listen to Frank Sinatra, play it loud.  Ozzy,  Floyd,  80’s or 90’s Pop–God forbid, classical or jazz (“Miss, what’s THAT?” “Brahms 3.”  “Ewwww…)…Play what you want.  Sing.

Top Ways to Show Appreciation to Other Teachers on That Same Budget

  1. Bring them a cup of coffee.  I sometimes make cups of tea and coffee and deliver them.  I have those fancy overpriced restaurant cups that I budget under “mental health” and “sharing.”
  2. Better yet, have a cup of coffee with them–but do not talk about anything stressful.  Talk about spring–which means summer’s around the corner.
  3. Help them plow through a stack of papers.  The truth is you can correct papers even if they’re not yours.  Get the down low on the rubric or grading system and help a teacher who looks like they’re drowning.  If you don’t understand their grading system, just give kids an A.  Students need a little appreciation, too.
  4. Get together for a meal.  Time is a premium in education, and I realize how infrequently I see some of my colleagues who are really fun.  Sit for something real-world and pleasant, like a meal, a matinée, or some other fun activity–with our without families.
  5. Leave notes and cards.  Do this in secret, “You’re amazing” or do it purposefully–a nice personal card or email to someone you truly appreciate.  Tell them why, then wish them a happy Teacher Appreciation Week.  I have a few Dunkin Donuts gift cards left from Christmas–I keep them around for emergencies.  I may slip a few of those into cards as well.

Napoleon Bonaparte said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”  Appreciation works!  A little goes a long way, and it doesn’t have to cost a dime.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week.  May you feel your value, both today, and as each student walks out your doors into the world.