Teacher Appreciation Week: What Teachers Really Want


It’s that time of year, where we as parents shower our teachers with gratitude and lots of apple-themed gifts. It’s Teacher Appreciation Week! This week honors the hard work your child’s teachers do for the entire school year. Some schools’ parent organizations pull out all the stops. Others have special events that are put on by the principals. Whatever your school does, your efforts and generosity are appreciated by your child’s teachers.

But how many apple Christmas ornaments or “Best Teacher” coffee mugs can one person use? As a classroom teacher for 13 years, let me tell you about the gifts and gestures that have meant the most to me over the years. I treasure all of my trinkets and gifts from students over the past several years. However, some things are incredibly thoughtful and personal–and those are my favorites.

A Personal Note Written by Your Child

This costs zero dollars. A note written by your child in his or her own words to them is priceless. I have kept all of my personal notes from students and parents over the years. It is helpful to look back and see all the lives I have touched over the years, especially on those hard days–which, after the last few years, are more and more frequent. I also keep all of the pictures and mementos that students have given me. 

Items with a Purpose

Instead of a “#1 Teacher” plaque or a coffee mug that is just going to get dusty on a shelf, try and think of something that your child’s teacher will use every day. One of my favorite gifts I have gotten was a personalized notepad with my name on it and a custom stamp. These items were thoughtful, practical, and useful. 

Some people frown at the idea of gift cards as being impersonal. But as someone who didn’t pay for Starbucks for almost an entire semester because of parents’ generosity, they’re greatly appreciated. 

As your child gets older and has many teachers, it might be difficult and costly to send gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week. Instead of getting individual gifts, think about taking donuts, bagels, or even a sheet cake to school for the entire staff to enjoy. Food is always welcome in the teacher’s lounge!

A Note to the Principal or Central Administration

Teachers, like their students, like recognition for their hard work. If you have a teacher in your child’s life that goes above and beyond day after day, please take a moment to write a letter or an email to their principal or even the superintendent.

Most of the time, these people are listening to parents criticize teachers. A positive email is a breath of fresh air. This doesn’t cost anything and I promise it is more valuable than any gift you could give them.

Teachers have been through a lot over the past few years. With the pandemic, virtual learning, and now the teacher shortage, a little praise could go a long way to brighten their day or week. 

Don’t worry if you decide to go with a traditional gift of a “#1 Teacher” coffee mug or a sign for them to display in their classroom. I promise you that it will be a gift they appreciate and treasure. These gifts will remind them of your child and all of the growth they have made this school year.

Looking for more teacher appreciation inspiration? Check out Jenny’s list of ways to thank your child’s teacher!


  1. Great ideas! I didn’t think of sending a note to the principal. Our girls’ preschool ” principal ” is awesome! Will send her a note. 😊


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