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

All across schools in Central Texas, parents are planning their week around the tokens that their school is suggesting students bring each day to show their appreciation for their teachers … or they are scrambling to bring whatever token they’ve been assigned, the food item for the teachers’ lunch or some other gift.

While these teacher tokens of appreciation, I know are appreciated, they are just that, tokens. And, I hear from teachers that often, it’s all too much — especially when it comes to food and unhealthy food at that.

Instead, the teachers I know talk about getting chocked up every time a student brings her a box of sharpened pencils. Another loves that one of her students brings her some hard-boiled eggs for her snack because she knows she loves hard-boiled eggs.

Kettisha Jones, assistant superintendent with the Pflugerville school district, assists second grade students in Susan Davidson’s classroom at Wieland Elementary with a math lesson in measurement as she helps size their arms.
RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

What do teachers really want? Here are five things you can give them this week, but more importantly throughout the school year.

  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 your kids.
  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. Or gift cards to places that are just for them — a favorite restaurant, a coffee spot, a bookstore.
  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.

Author: Nicole Villalpando

Nicole Villalpando writes about families in the Raising Austin blog and the Raising Austin column on Saturdays. She also offers a weekly and monthly family calendar at austin360.com/raisingaustin. She tweets at @raisingaustin.

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