Teacher Appreciation Week: A Cause to Celebrate Beyond May

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Teachers are the cornerstone of our society. Of course, teachers help us to understand foundational concepts like reading, writing, math, science, history, etc. But they also help us to understand how to solve problems, ask questions, work together, and tap into creativity. They help us to build confidence, think critically, and empower others. And, in many instances, they help us to feel safe, secure, and loved.


Every May, we take the time to acknowledge and honor the critical work of teachers with Teacher Appreciation Week. And while this gratitude can take many forms—hello free coffee vouchers!—we believe the impact of such a week can also have deep lasting effects on both teachers and the communities around them.

The Impact of Gratitude

Recognizing Teachers


Not to state the obvious but everyone deserves to be shown gratitude for their good work. And if you have a teacher in your life, you know they do A LOT of good work. From acting as mentors and confidants to inspiring growth and creativity, teachers cram their days with transformative activities that shape our next generation. Not to mention the grading, paperwork, planning, and professional development that follows those long days of changing the world!


But teachers do not always feel recognized or valued for the work that they do. In a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 47% of teacher respondents indicated that they believe that “most Americans don’t trust teachers much or at all” (Braga, 2024). And if our teachers aren’t feeling trusted, how can we expect them to cram their days (and nights and weekends) with so much work?


While recognizing this work can, and should, come in many different forms, the simplest one we can all put into practice immediately is expressing our gratitude openly and often. And while a “thank you” won’t change the hardships teachers face daily—we’ll need the support of our local leaders and policymakers for that—gratitude might be the key to helping teachers feel more trusted publicly, and we can all do our part to help with that.


 Building Communities


Teachers do more than manage classrooms—they build and shape communities. Many of us have attended the after-school events and weekend outings designed and implemented by teachers. And so many students have participated in the extra-curricular activities sponsored and coached by their educators. STEM Night? Thank a teacher. End-of-School Fair? Thank a teacher. Debate Team? Marching Band? Robotics Club? Athletics? Thank a teacher. 


While teachers should in no way be obligated to spend their often unpaid time planning, hosting, and even coaching, so many of them do so regardless. Because teachers love teaching, inside and outside of the classroom. And these events and activities ultimately help to foster a sense of community for students and families, enriching the neighborhoods they serve.


Beyond building community in the present, this type of work often inspires students to chase their interests and engage in their communities later in life, fostering a generational impact. So many of us have pursued education, careers, and even hobbies thanks to a teacher, and those pursuits have paid dividends not only for ourselves and our families but also for the communities in which we live, work, and thrive.

The Unsung Change-Makers

The work of teachers is complex and critical. Of course they teach us foundational knowledge about many different subjects, but they also teach us how to live and thrive in an ever-changing world. And they do so not only through classroom instruction but also through mentorship, coaching, community events, and so much more.


While we love dedicating a time each year to thank our teachers, we should all consider expressing that gratitude more often and openly throughout the year. Because when we think of change-makers, we think of the classroom.


Braga, D. (2024, April 4). What public K-12 teachers want Americans to know about teaching. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2024/04/04/what-public-k-12-teachers-want-americans-to-know-about-teaching/


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