Teacher Appreciation Week Is a Time to Honor Yourself
Written and reported by: Stephanie Behring Contributing Writer
Teaching can be a tough profession, so it’s only appropriate that teachers are honored with their own day and week. The National Education Association (NEA) and the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) promote this special time. This year, National Teacher Appreciation Day is May 3 and the week-long celebration is May 2-8.
Teaching has never been an easy profession. Teachers are frequently asked to go above and beyond to reach their students, keep their classrooms stocked, engage their communities, and more. When broader issues such as school district budget cuts, community disasters, national crises, political reform, or policy changes affect classrooms, teachers are frontline responders.
They’re responsible for giving students a quality education no matter the circumstances. Teacher Appreciation Week is a great opportunity for parents, students, administrators, and the whole community to give thanks for this hard work.
Teachers are frequently asked to go above and beyond to reach their students, keep their classrooms stocked, engage their communities, and more.
“Appreciating teachers makes teachers better teachers,” says Kathleen Scott, a math instructional leader with Springfield Public Schools in Massachusetts. “The reward of teaching is seeing students succeed, but having others recognize and appreciate it is affirming and makes teachers want to continue the journey of educating so many young minds year after year.”
Ways to Celebrate Your Work and Your Profession
Teacher appreciation week is a great time to honor teachers, but you don’t have to wait for the week to treat yourself. You can attend a conference, apply for a grant, enter a contest, get a discount, or take time for yourself when it works for you.
Attend a Conference
Conferences can be a fun way to advance your career, learn new teaching techniques, make connections, and earn continuing education credits. There are conferences all over the country covering just about every subject and grade level. You can travel to attend a conference, or attend online. Here’s a sampling of what’s happening this year.
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference—This year’s ISTE conference is dedicated to technology in the classroom and will be held virtually and live in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 26-29.
The National Rural Education Association Conference— This annual conference focuses on issues facing educators in rural areas. It will be held Oct. 20-21 virtually and in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Apply for a Grant or Enter a Contest
There are many grants available to help teachers obtain funds for their schools and classroom supplies. Grants often are large enough to make a significant difference in your classroom or school. Here are five to consider. There are more grants for teachers in this guide.
Fund for Teachers awards between $5,000 and $10,000 to teachers for personal educational or professional development goals
Super Teacher Worksheets is a worksheet website for teachers. It holds a monthly drawing that teachers can enter by providing their name and email. Winners receive classroom supplies. Previous winners have received items such as books, microscopes, building sets, calculators, and other learning tools.
Grab a Freebie or Discount
You don’t have to wait until May to receive an education discount. There are businesses that offer discounts for teachers throughout the year. You’ll find discount programs available at many clothing brands and other retailers.
Discounts are available on larger purchases too. For example, teachers can receive 60% off Adobe software products and a discount on new vehicles through GM.
Social media can help you connect with teachers beyond your local community. It’s a great way to share stories, classroom ideas, successes, frustrations, and more with educators around the world. Teachers are talking on platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok.
You can join in by searching hashtags such as:
During Teacher Appreciation Week, you can celebrate with the hashtag #teachersweek.
Encourage Community Support
Schools are essential to the communities they serve, and so is active community support for schools to be successful. Family involvement can make a big difference in student success. Community support can ensure teachers are better equipped to deliver quality education and that students are ready to receive it.
Unfortunately, teachers often find it difficult to get much-needed support. Busy parents and caregivers might not know how to pitch in, and teachers might not know how to ask for help.
Family involvement can make a huge difference in student success, and community support can ensure teachers are better equipped to deliver quality education and that students are ready to receive it.
Experts suggest that starting small can make the school year less overwhelming for you and your students’ caregivers. One way to begin is to make a list of supplies you need or tasks family members can do. You can send these lists home with your students, email them out to families, or both. Some tasks families can take on include:
Teachers have a demanding schedule, so it’s no surprise that they often have difficulty making time for themselves. However, self-care is important. It can help you stay healthy and focused and improve your teaching performance.
The Benefits of Mindfulness
There are several resources to help you manage your work-life balance. For instance, the Resilient Educator has a free self-care toolkit for teachers with resources on exercise, wellness, stress management, and more. Similarly, Mindful Teacher offers a self-care library with videos, meditations, articles, and more to help teachers take time for themselves.
For more help with mindfulness, mediation, sleep management, and other relaxation techniques, look into the Headspace app. It’s free for teachers and offers a full range of guided self-care activities.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Taking care of your health is another important aspect of self-care, especially when you’re in a classroom full of kids every day. Teachers are exposed to every sniffle and cough that comes into their classroom. They’re also under the stress of teaching and managing a bunch of children. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stay healthy. You’ve no doubt heard them many times, but it’s hard to overstate how helpful they can be:
Get enough sleep
Eat a balanced diet
Find time to exercise
Drink plenty of water
Wash your hands frequently or carry hand sanitizer
Take the Summer Off (if You Can)
While many people may think of summers off as one of the best perks of being a teacher, you probably know that an actual summer off is rare for many teachers. While students get a break, the NEA says many teachers “spend summers working second jobs, teaching summer school, and taking classes for certification renewal or to advance their careers.”
But if you can, taking the summer off can be a much-needed break and a huge stress reliever. Even taking it slower over the summer can help. And even if you’re working or in school, making time for a vacation can help you recharge for the coming school year.
With professional insight from:
Kathleen Scott Math Instructional Leader, Springfield Public Schools