It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. What do teachers really want?

Have a teacher like AISD’s Juli Naranjo who you just adore? Make sure to let her know all year long. RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

All across schools in Central Texas, students are arriving with the assigned token item they were supposed to bring for the first day of Teacher Appreciation Day. In our house, we’ve had different things assigned like bring a flower, bring a sweet treat, bring a note, bring a bookmark, etc. As my kids get older, it’s become adopt a teacher, or bring something for the teacher luncheon.

While these teacher tokens of appreciation, I know are appreciated, they are just that, tokens.

What do teachers really want? Here are five things you can give them.

  1. Your support. Active parents who are partners, not skeptics, micro managers, road blocks. Being an active parent means that you read the teacher’s notes. You engage with your child about what they are studying and reinforce it. You read to your child regularly or encourage them to read. You make sure the homework is done, but you don’t do it for them.
  2. Your help. Not everyone can sign up for the field trip or to be room parent, but you can  volunteer to do something at home to bring to the classroom. I remember one teacher needed someone to cut out paper hearts for the next day’s activity. Easy, peasy. I felt good and it was one less thing on that teacher’s to-do list.
  3. Supplies. This is the time of year when schools are running out of everything: pencils, paper, tissues, hand sanitizer. Often, teachers supplement using their own funds, which is wrong. Ask teachers what they are running low on and pick up some the next time you’re at the store. Better yet, let fellow parents know as well and organize a supply drive.
  4. Gift cards. Stock them with gift cards to H-E-B, Target, Walmart. If they do run low on something, even if it’s for next year, they won’t have to use their own funds.
  5. Notes of encouragement all year long. If your child came home filled with knowledge or particularly enjoyed a lesson, let your teacher now. So often our emails to teachers are all about what they aren’t doing or logistics about who is sick, when you’re picking up kids for what activity or how your children are getting home. Wouldn’t it be nice to start their day with a nice note from a parent that wasn’t about all of that?

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week. We appreciate you all year long.