Teacher Appreciation Ideas: What Teachers Really Want

Teacher Appreciation Ideas: What Teachers Really Want

As the school year draws to a close, I see multiple friends on Facebook and pins on Pinterest dedicated to gifts for teacher appreciation. Ideas range from gift cards to spa packages to candles and candy.

In just this last week, I’ve commented on at least five different statuses of friends or pages I follow asking for help. They want to make sure they get the best gift for a teacher that would be both personal and meaningful.

For eleven years, I taught in a face-to-face high school classroom. I loved my students, and I really and very truly gained so much from the experience of just teaching teenagers. Sometimes, at the end of the year or at the holidays, my students were gracious enough to give me gifts. Did I love the homemade cookies? Oh yes. Did I appreciate the gift cards? Definitely. But did they mean the most to me? Not at all.

The most memorable and meaningful gifts my students ever gave me were simple and hand made. In fact, I just got one from an online student yesterday — and this kid has no idea what it means to me:

thank you text

Teachers become teachers not for the money or for the gifts that may arrive once or twice a year. Most teachers  become teachers because they love kids and teaching and learning.

I chose to become a teacher after I had some of the most awesome teachers on the face of this earth. The experiences they gave me proved to me that school could be both fun and engaging. I could learn through doing rather than just worksheets and quizzes.

High school ended up being the right fit for me, and I am blessed over and over again as my former students find me on Facebook and tell me how much they loved my class. Or, we end up at the grocery store at the same time and they’re excited to introduce me to their fiancees.

One of my absolute favorite gifts is to become true friends with my former students. Some are even so special to me that they end up being a part of my major life events.


When you’re thinking about what to get for a teacher as the end of the school year arrives, keep in mind that we aren’t really expecting much. We appreciate that Pinterest stresses everyone out and pressures everyone to make cutesy gifts with nifty little cards. But, what we’re going to remember more than a little catchy three lines attached to a candy bar is the love and appreciation that you or your child shows us even if it’s through a handmade card, quick note, or precious hug.

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