Editor’s note: The following was contributed by Teach For America, where you can apply for jobs as an educator using Handshake!
Here at Teach For America, we know just how crucial a role educators play in all our lives.
That’s why showing educators your appreciation is so important. To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re sharing proactive, practical, and fun ways to support teachers and show them love this week and throughout the year. So, grab a cup of coffee (or your drink of choice), and let’s dive into some creative ideas to brighten up an educator’s day!
Simple, Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week
- Send your favorite teachers this video. Let them know you see, respect, and appreciate them.
- Shout them out. Tag and tweet the teachers in your life and let the world know you value them.
- Send someone a specially curated gift to say thank you gift. You can even filter your options by cause, occasion, or experience!
To keep your appreciation going, here are seven proactive ways to help teachers throughout the year.
Tutoring and Academic Support
Tutoring provides additional support to students, which can benefit teachers. Volunteering a few hours to help students build confidence in a subject matter can promote academic success, reduce teachers’ workload, and cultivate positive relationships with students. Tutoring is especially helpful during the summer to prevent students from falling into the summer slump.
If you have a knack for explaining and coaching people through a specific subject matter, consider the following:
1. Tutor in the classroom. Programs like Ignite, Breakthrough Collaborative, and CityYear will place you in the classrooms to teach or coach students with the greatest need.
2. Volunteer to tutor in the neighborhood. Organizations like Reading Partners, 826 National, and Project Rousseau will help you partner with students in their communities to improve and support their academic success.
3. Tutor at your local library. Sign up for your library’s tutoring program if they have it. If they do not, see if you can host one.
4. If you are a linguistics fanatic, practicing English or a foreign language with students can help them remember the terminology by engaging in active learning, repetition, contextual learning, and creating emotional connections.
Editing and Grading Support
Many teachers struggle with grading and editing, especially when they have a large number of students in their classes. By volunteering to help with this task, you can help lighten the workload for teachers, allowing them to focus on other crucial tasks. Assistance like this is especially helpful in mid-fall and mid-spring when teacher burnout increases.
Do you have strong editing skills, love critical thinking, and value efficiency? Consider grading students’ work. To start, you can:
5. Go to the School of Education at your college or university or student organizations that may have teachers. See if anyone in the program needs help grading papers.
- Visit a local school near you and see if they would let your group of friends volunteer a few days of the month to help teachers grade papers.
- Make the most impact by requesting to help the teachers who need the most support.
Lesson Plan Research
Any teacher will tell you that researching and developing lesson plans takes time, time they often do not have. Researching lesson plans can be a valuable way to support teachers and students. It can help save time, provide diverse and quality resources, encourage a variety of instruction formats, and offer fresh perspectives on the lesson planning process.
If you value different learning styles, geek out about research, and appreciate order, consider researching lesson plans for teachers. Here is how you can help:
6. Connect with local educators, librarians, or community center leaders to identify the subject matters or topics where students need the most support or resources.
- If you can, focus on a subject matter you already know. Identifying and investing in lesson plans is easier when you are familiar with them. For example, if you are a biology major, focus on biology lesson plans.
- When you start your research, save your findings in a format that is easy to access and use, like a Google spreadsheet or even a Pinterest board. Organize your resources by grade or subject so they are easy to find.
- Using websites like PBS LearningMedia, TED-Ed, Khan Academy, or ShareMyLesson can help you curate a variety of content to address students’ different learning styles.
- Share your link with the people you talked to and spend time updating it regularly so teachers have fresh content to pull from.
Leadership and Public Speaking
Speaking in a classroom and sharing personal stories can bring real-world experience and increase topic relevance, motivating students to learn. It provides diverse career perspectives, broadening student understanding and making lessons more concrete. Speaking in a classroom can serve as a valuable way to support teachers and inspire students’ appreciation for education and future careers.
If you take pride in sharing and catalyzing your narrative and teaching others to leverage it in their career journey, consider speaking at a school. You can get involved by:
7. Asking your peers from one or more student organizations if they would visit a corresponding K-12 classroom or club (i.e. Student Council, Theater Club, Environmental Club, etc).
- See if/when your local school has a career or mentor day. If they do, participate! If they do not, see if they would be interested in having you stop by to tell your story.
- Take it further and meet with the club monthly or quarterly to build relationships with the students and offer teachers extra support. Showing up at games, tournaments, and major presentations can make students feel seen, appreciated, and valued.
Teachers play a critical role in shaping the future of our society, and we must find feasible ways to pay it forward. Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week is a perfect opportunity to acknowledge and thank teachers for their tireless efforts.
To hear first-hand accounts of the teacher experience, check out Handshake’s Class Act session as you make plans to support your favorite educator.
Inspired by your teachers and ready to show your appreciation by following in their footsteps? Whether you’re looking to become a teacher, pursuing ways to achieve social justice, or transitioning into a meaningful career, we can help you effectively champion underserved students in the classroom and beyond. Head over to teachforamerica.org to learn more.