I think I can speak for 99% of teachers when I say: We aren’t in it for the money.

My childhood was filled with practicing teaching. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was a no-brainer. I wanted to be a teacher. For the longest time, I wanted to teach elementary school. My grade school teachers were phenomenal, and I wanted to emulate them. But as time wore on, I settled on high school and English. This was the perfect fit.

My classroom was always filled with laughter and inside jokes. T-shirts, secret codes, scripts for answering the class phone — talk to one of my former students and there’s bound to be a story or two about my oldest mixed in to their memories.

No, we’re not in it for the money. And honestly, we didn’t become teachers in hopes that at Christmas and Teacher Appreciation week we’d receive candy and gift cards and candles. Sure, those gestures of love are meaningful. We very much appreciate them. But there are a few things we’d really rather have.

What teachers appreciate

I polled some of my fellow teachers. Here’s what teachers really appreciate:

  • I think what I appreciate most are those students who take ownership over their education (KC)
  • I appreciate students who can see the big picture. They are willing to attempt any assignment because they trust the purpose behind it. They don’t whine; they just enjoy the process. (KL)
  • Seeing someone get it, retain it, and do it with success. (MB)
  • Hard working & honest students. Parents that are supportive by paying attention & interested in what their child is doing no matter the age. (LW)
  • I appreciate students who look at me when speaking and use good manners! And I’m glad to say that the majority do! (DB)
  • To try, to play along, to respect one another…if that’s there, everything else can be learned. And parents who hold their children accountable. (LC)
  • I appreciate parents who assume the best. I love kids who can problem solve. I really love the ones who bring me Starbucks occasionally. They are my favorites. (JM)
  • I want them to care and ask if they don’t know. I’d rather be questioned about a grade than have a kid never read my feedback or look back at graded work. (SE)
  • I appreciate good manners and general respect for me, their peers, the classroom, etc. And let’s not forget self-respect! (AO)
  • Students who are proactive. I also appreciate students who HAVE a writing utensil daily. (MP)
  • I really appreciate extra geeky students (like myself) who react enthusiastically about learning. (RH)
  • A sincere thank you from someone. It can be a student, a parent, or a community member who says it, but as long as it is sincere it means the world. (ES)
  • I appreciate it when they laugh with me. I have fun teaching, and I want them to have fun too! (ML)
  • I love the light bulb moments. Those moments where you slowly see it click then boom they light up because they get it and KNOW it. (MA)
  • The willingness to LISTEN to me and to classmates. Not just be quiet and wait their turns. But really listen, and respond intelligently and accordingly. (AG)
  • Students who ask questions and don’t expect you to have the answers – just want you to think about their questions with respect, sincerity and truthful responses. (PB)

and perhaps my favorite

  • Retirement! (JK)

When you’re thinking about gifts you can give your teacher or your child’s teacher, consider this important note: Mostly, we want your kid to be a good person. To come to class prepared. To come to class with an open mind and willingness to learn. To be respectful of himself, his friends, his teachers. To be proactive in their learning. To care.

A simple thank you note goes a long, long way (and hint hint: will likely be kept in a file folder for re-reading later!).

Now go and read from more of my friends who have some Teacher Appreciation to share:

A summer orzo salad from Baking in a Tornado

Easy dollar store wind chimes from Southern Belle Charm

A is for Apple, T is for Teacher from Spatulas on Parade

The Dos and Don’ts of Teacher Appreciation from The Liebers

BWF May 2016 teachers