By Scott Sterling
Although teachers are grateful for any token of appreciation they receive on Teacher Appreciation Week, there is also a sense of “been there, done that.” The week usually consists of the bag of candy in the mailboxes, the breakfast hosted by the PTA, and the annual happy hour. Considering how stressful this year has been for many teachers across the country, it might be time to start thinking outside the box.
Here are some ideas that are not only novel, but won’t break your already-stretched budget.
It’s fairly easy to reserve bowling lanes during the day (at night is another story). Usually, they will even cut you a deal, since they’ll have a large group eating and drinking at their snack bar. Although it’s probably too late to set it up for this appreciation week, keep this idea in your pocket for next year or even the next inservice day as a surprise, leaving them nothing but a vague meeting reminder on their calendars.
Massages for everyone would definitely be a budget-breaker. However, chair massages from massage students solve that problem in two ways. First, they focus on one part of the body, taking less time. Second, students don’t cost as much and are grateful for the real-world practice.
It’s hard to understand how a teacher learning opportunity can be seen as an appreciation gift. After all, you and the district schedule many inservice days and even send some teachers to the occasional conference. This isn’t your typical inservice.
An edcamp is different. Teachers come together to share best practices without having to stick to an agenda. Although this would obviously work on an inservice day, figuring out a way to give the teachers some unscheduled shared planning time (a field or gym day works) is quite another.
Arrange for a speaker
While we’re thinking about spending time with colleagues, let’s move on to faculty meetings. They’re valuable, but have probably also become a little stale.
Instead of bullet points and data study, invite a speaker to give a talk on a topic that could be useful for the teachers, like stress management or personal finance. They’re easier to find than you think and will normally speak for free as long as you let them plug their book or website. You might even want to look into comedians; during the day, they’re inexpensive, as well.
Gift: iTunes gift card
For a little bit more than a bag of candy, you can get something that might actually make a difference in a teacher’s craft. Although we think the district buys all the software a teacher needs, everyone has an app they would love to use but aren’t willing to spend their own money on. They might also be using the free version of something even though the upgrade version would really have an impact on their daily work.