While the month of May has become a time to celebrate and honor the vital work educators do with both Teacher Appreciation Week and Provider Appreciation Day, many families, colleagues, and communities understand the importance of showing teachers appreciation throughout the year.
The value of appreciation
Erika Winter, director at Commerce Children’s Center in Boulder, Colorado, notes that teachers can feel isolated. “Sometimes we’re working so hard that it’s like we have blinders on. Teacher Appreciation Week and Provider Appreciation Day make teachers look up and see that what they are doing matters to others, and it gives them a chance to see some of the wonderful things that their colleagues are doing as well."
What teachers are doing for each other
Some early childhood centers are finding innovative ways to encourage and recognize their own staff. Winter says that she and her staff have been getting better at showing appreciation for each other, not just during Teacher Appreciation Week, but all year long.
Recently, two teachers stepped up to help in the kitchen. To show their thanks, the staff and children honored them with a gift certificate for lunch and handmade thank you notes. Winter says, “Feeling appreciated makes for a nice work environment, and the kids were so excited to show the teachers how much they appreciated what they did for them.”
Appreciation all year long
At Blue Skies for Children, Inc., in Oakland, California, parents organize “surprise days” throughout the year. Every few months teachers arrive at work to find bagels and coffee. Center director Lisa Hale suggests that the best way to thank a teacher is with a simple note, such as: You helped me (or my child) by doing this, or I learned this from you. Hale says, “For a teacher to know that something that they did helped a family…well, you just can’t hear that enough.”
For Teacher Appreciation Week
Staff members at Commerce Children’s Center in Boulder, will write three complimentary qualities about their colleagues and put them in a box. Winter will then make a bulletin board display of the compliments and create a bookmark for each teacher. Winter says, “Teachers shine when they’re recognized by their coworkers. It’s important for administrators to recognize their staff, but it means even more when it comes from colleagues.”
At Blue Grass Head Start in Frankfort, Kentucky, local businesses will donate food so staff can have a special dinner, and the Early Childhood Counsel in the county is giving each staff member a t-shirt proclaiming, “I work in childcare… for all the little reasons.”
Parents at the Early Childhood Center in Scituate, Massachusetts, will show their appreciation by hosting a special lunch each day of the week, culminating with a dessert day on Friday that center director Judy Norton describes as “decadent.”
At the Jenkins Elementary School, also in Scituate, children have been writing notes to their teachers on cutouts of small sharks (the school mascot). First-grade teacher Jen Farwell shares that she feels most appreciated when students recount fond memories of their time in her class.
How does your program show teachers appreciation? What’s the most meaningful way a colleague, parent, family member, or child has shown you they value what you do? Share your thoughts and ideas here.