Teacher Appreciation Week Is a Time to Honor Yourself

stephanie behring

Written and reported by:
Stephanie Behring
Contributing Writer

teacher helps young student with her schoolwork
teacher helps young student with her schoolwork

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.

In Praise of Teachers

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.
  • National Science Teaching Association National Conference—This gathering for STEM teachers will be held in Chicago July 21-24.
  • Digital Pedagogy Lab 2021—This event focuses on digital learning and will be held entirely online Aug. 1-5, 2021.
  • Early Educators Leadership Conference—Early childhood educators will gather Oct. 5-8 for this conference in Orlando, Florida.
  • 2021 Aurora Institute Symposium— This event will focus on innovations in learning and be held virtually Oct. 24-26.
  • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention— You can learn new strategies for teaching English and language arts at this conference, which will be held Nov. 19-21 in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • 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
  • American Family Insurance Dreams Foundation Grant is for schools to use on new programming for students. The largest grants are $10,000.
  • National Endowment for the Arts Educational Grants are as high as $100,000 and are awarded for music, theater, and other arts programming.
  • Fuel Up to Play 60 Grants help sports programs. Schools can be awarded up to $4,000 for sports and athletic equipment.
  • The Literacy Empowerment Foundation (LEF) Book Matching Grant will match up to $20,000 of a school’s expenses for classroom books.
  • The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy. It holds monthly contests with a theme for STEM teachers and awards up to $1,500 to winners.
  • 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.

You can use ID.me Shop to take advantage of thousands of discounts for teachers. You can search for local deals or by category to find teacher-only discounts on everything from travel accommodations to tax software.

Get Social

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:

  • Chaperoning in-school events
  • Chaperoning field trips
  • Reading to students
  • Making copies of worksheets
  • Gathering supplies for art projects
  • Speaking about their careers
  • Tutoring students
  • Sending in baked goods
  • Sending in donations

You can find more ideas for parent engagement from fellow teachers in the NEA’s resource library.

Advance your Credentials

You probably already know there’s a high demand for teachers with advanced degrees. If you don’t have a master’s degree, now could be the right time to look at graduate programs. If your schedule is tight, an online program can offer the flexibility you need to work and study.

If you already have a master’s degree, a certification or endorsement can be a smart next career step. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) offers national certification for teachers in 25 subject areas for K-12 teachers. NBPTS certification shows your professional dedication, and it has the potential to increase your salary and advance your career. 

Take Time for Self-Care

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:

all education schools dot com logo

Kathleen Scott
Math Instructional Leader, Springfield Public Schools