Teacher Appreciation Week – May 3-7, 2020

May 3–7

Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated in the first full week of May, from May 3 through May 7 in 2021, and is when teachers get the extra credit they deserve. The big day is Teacher Appreciation Day on May 5, but teachers are just so great that they get a whole week to savor our appreciation.  Whether you have a teacher, know a teacher, or are a teacher, there are endless ways to give a little extra support to teachers and teachers organizations. Teaching is known to be a time-consuming and challenging profession, so this week is our chance to say thank you to those that play or have played such a huge role in our lives. Who doesn’t have a fond memory of a teacher who inspired us in some way?

Teaching is one of the oldest professions – in 561BC, the first private teacher in history was one of the most learned men of all time, Confucius. In Ancient Greece, there was huge value placed on educating children, and in the 1600s the Pilgrims also placed a similar emphasis on the practice. 

By the 19th century, politicians began to believe that education was needed for political order, and elementary through college education was widespread and public, and the need for teachers has been growing ever since!

Though the origins of Teacher Appreciation Week are somewhat murky, it’s clear that it was in 1944 that an Arkansas school teacher, Mattye White Woodridge, wrote to politicians and educational professionals about the demand for a day to appreciate teachers. However, it wasn’t for nearly a decade until the idea was introduced to Congress by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1953, she was successful in convincing lawmakers to adopt the day.

After the National Education Association (NEA) and Kansas and Indiana state affiliates lobbied Congress again to create National Teacher Day on March 7, 1980, they continued to observe it yearly even though Congress did not. They did this until 1985 when the Assembly transformed the single day into the first full week of May. 

Teacher Appreciation Day is described by the NEA, which spearheads the weeklong event, as “a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.” Each year they provide social media kits, printable teacher achievement certificates, contests, and gift suggestions to help teachers feel all the appreciation we have for them.

History of Teacher Appreciation Week

Teaching is one of the oldest professions – in 561BC, the first private teacher in history was one of the most learned men of all time, Confucius. In Ancient Greece, there was huge value placed on educating children, and in the 1600s the Pilgrims also placed a similar emphasis on the practice. 

By the 19th century, politicians began to believe that education was needed for political order, and elementary through college education was widespread and public, and the need for teachers has been growing ever since!

Though the origins of Teacher Appreciation Week are somewhat murky, it’s clear that it was in 1944 that an Arkansas school teacher, Mattye White Woodridge, wrote to politicians and educational professionals about the demand for a day to appreciate teachers. However, it wasn’t for nearly a decade until the idea was introduced to Congress by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1953, she was successful in convincing lawmakers to adopt the day.

After the National Education Association (NEA) and Kansas and Indiana state affiliates lobbied Congress again to create National Teacher Day on March 7, 1980, they continued to observe it yearly even though Congress did not. They did this until 1985 when the Assembly transformed the single day into the first full week of May. 

Teacher Appreciation Day is described by the NEA, which spearheads the weeklong event, as “a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.” Each year they provide social media kits, printable teacher achievement certificates, contests, and gift suggestions to help teachers feel all the appreciation we have for them.

Teacher Appreciation Week timeline

1984

A Change of Date

Teacher Appreciation Day was celebrated on March 7 until 1984, when it was moved to its current date in May.

1980

Lobbying for Learning

Though Teacher Appreciation Day and Week had long been in the works, it was 1980 when the National Education Association joined forces with school boards and lobbied Congress for it to become a national holiday.

1953

Classroom Cooperation

Eleanor Roosevelt was able to convince the 81st Congress to create the first Teacher Appreciation Day.

1944

The First Rumblings

It was in 1944 that the first discussions of creating a national day to honor teachers began between politicians and education professionals.

Teacher Appreciation Week FAQs

What do you give a teacher for Appreciation Week?

You could opt for a gift card from places such as Target, Best Buy, or Spafinder. Alternatively, you could make a donation. Some of the best organizations to donate to include the National Education Association Foundation, Teach.com, Donors Choose, and AdoptAClassroom.org. You can also ask your favorite teacher which association they suggest.

Are there any Teacher Appreciation Week deals?

Yes! Supply stores like Office Max and Office Depot run discount specials on printing and classroom supplies. A huge variety of companies, from Barnes and Noble to The Container Store to Caesar’s Palace, offer discounts for teachers on all types of products!

What week is Teacher Appreciation Week?

The first full week in May.

How to Observe Teacher Appreciation Week

  1. Bring a gift to your teacher

    Many associations, like National PTA, offer suggestions for gifts to give to teachers and provide fun printable thank-you notes and flyers. Other great ideas to honor your teacher’s work include gift cards, donations, baked goods, decorating their classroom door or teachers lounge, volunteer in a classroom, or use the official hashtag #ThankATeacher

  2. Reach out to an old teacher

    We all remember at least one old teacher fondly, and chances are they remember you and would love to know what you’re up to. See if they are still teaching at your old school and plan to pay a visit, give a call, or even add them on social media to keep up with them! It’s a great chance to let them know the impact they have had on your life.

  3. Donate to teachers!

    Many associations have made it their mission to support teachers with school supplies and making ends meet. Some of the best organizations to send a little extra to this week include Donors Choose, Fund for Teachers, and the National Education Association Foundation. You can even specifically fund particular subjects, like the arts or math and sciences!

5 Delightful Facts About Teachers

  1. Putting in the Hours

    One study indicated that the average workweek for teachers was 53 hours.

  2. Focusing on What’s Important

    In one survey, teachers made it clear they were not in it for the money - 97% noted that good school leadership was the most important factor for them to stay in their role. Salary didn’t even make the top ten.

  3. Fighting for Our Students

    Teachers are second only to the US Military as the occupation that most heavily contributed to the well-being of society, according to one study.

  4. Cramped Coffers

    Studies show that at some point, 94% of teachers go into their own pockets for classroom purchases.

  5. Banking on Teaching

    The four states with the highest average salaries for teachers are New York, Connecticut, California, and Alaska.

Why We Love Teacher Appreciation Week

  1. Teachers shape our lives!

    From elementary school to university, everyone can think of at least one teacher who pushed us to be our best selves, inspired us, or showed us a new way of thinking that stuck with us. Where would we be without them?

  2. They work SO hard

    Arguably no one works harder than teachers. Presenting material to classes of children is no easy feat and they deserve all the credit for that. Beyond just delivering material, teachers devote countless hours at home to creating lesson plans, grading material, and coming up with fun extras to make the class more engaging.

  3. We can give back

    It’s no secret that schools often don’t have the budget to spend on all the things teachers need to run an engaging classroom. Many teachers have online wish lists of things they need, like colored pencils or tape. If you want to think bigger, consider donating to schools or school districts, so they can afford larger items that more students can use.