Episode 42: 10 ideas for Teacher Appreciation WeekMay 02, 2023
You are incredible, and I SO appreciate the work you do (seen and unseen) every day, week after week with your students!
In this episode, I share 10 ways you can share gratitude for and appreciate the teachers in your building this year! Which is your favorite idea!? Go share on my Instagram post! I can't wait to hear what you try and how it spreads JOY to your colleagues, students and YOU!
Welcome to Teaching la vida loca, a podcast for World Language Teachers seeking inspiration, unapologetic authenticity and guidance in centering joy, and facilitating language acquisition for the people who matter most our students, I'm your host, Annabelle, most people call me la maestra loca. And I'm an educator just like you, and inspiring teachers is. Hello, and welcome to episode 42 of teaching la vida loca, I am so glad you're here. I want to start just by sharing gratitude for you, not just for listening to this podcast and supporting me in that way. But for all the work that you do in your classroom, I so appreciate you. And your students do too, even when they don't show it. They really do. There's nobody who knows them quite like you do. And I'm just so grateful for what you do, seen and unseen every day, in your classroom and outside to.
Teacher Appreciation Week
Today's episode is literally all about Teacher Appreciation Week, we're actually celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week at my school right now. Because our standardized testing for the state is next week. So, my school is honoring and celebrating teachers one week early. And for those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that teacher appreciation week is my favorite week of the year, it really is it's literally my favorite week of the year. I get great joy by honoring and celebrating and appreciating the educators around me. Not just in the online space, but the actual physical teachers that I get to teach with day after day, week after week. And I love being able to shower them with love and appreciation. So, in this episode, I want to share 10 Yes, 10 Oh my God, I know, right? Get your pens out, get your sticky notes, all the things, 10 different ideas that are cheap or free to do for Teacher Appreciation Week. And some of them are like really low lift, some of them are super easy. And some of them require a little bit more thought and time. But all of them are doable. And I promise you, if you try these, it's going to bring you so much joy, seeing the joy and gratitude, and fuzzies it brings another teacher I know that sounds like okay Annabelle, but I'm serious, like yesterday was the first day and it was the big day where I surprise everybody with my main gift, which is gift number 10. So, you're gonna have to stay tuned for the end. And I had people leaving, saying it was one of the highlights of their year, I had a teacher, a few teachers cry, but like, say that I had no idea what this meant to them. And I love creating that for teachers with the help of my students, because my favorite gifts are the ones that I get to co create with students for teachers. So, I'm going to give you some ideas today. And then hopefully you can try some implement them and feel that, that joy within yourself for celebrating other teachers, because the reality is, not all schools do Teacher Appreciation Week really well. In fact, some schools don't do anything. So, if we can bring ourselves joy, by spreading love and appreciation for the other educators in our building, then our impact is even greater than we could possibly imagine, especially in schools that don't do a great job of recognition.
So, let's get started. The first one is handwritten notes of gratitude. And I have like a, like a top tip or a pro tip for you as well. But notes of gratitude goes such a long way. They are free. It doesn't cost you anything to write a note of gratitude. It shows that you took some real thought into writing to this person, for this person, about why you appreciate them or what you see that they do that is special or magical or lights kids up or impacts kids in a real way. Writing that in a note and physically handing it to that person, there's so much power in that and this is a practice that I do weekly. It's something I learned from my previous principal, Miss Wilburn, that I will carry with me forever, because it really does bring me joy every week. And we don't recognize how important it is for our colleagues to just receive these tiny notes of gratitude. Now here's my top tip or my pro tip for you, you can make these on the back of Bitmoji notes. So, what I have is I have a slide deck of cute Bitmojis. And I just put like six on one slide. If you don't know what the emojis are, oh my god, don't worry, I have a blog for you. I'll drop it in the show notes. But it's basically a little mini cartoon version of you. And I dropped six of those into a slide and I have like three different slides. And then I print those out. And then I just cut them up and write on the back of it. So, I'm not even creating or buying stationery, I'm just printing black and white or color, whatever you want. Little bitmoji's and writing on the back. And then it's even more personal, because there's a little cartoon version of me saying up or yay, or I love you or whatever, you know, you can get as as mushy gushy or as weird as you want with those. But you know, also able to include inside jokes that you have with the people. Lots of ideas for that. So that's my first one.
The second one is a take one leave one sticky note idea. So go into a shared space. For example, the community work room or the teacher work room, or the bathroom even, I know the bathroom sounds gross. But if you have a bigger bathroom, like we have teacher bathrooms that are much, quite big. And so, we have like these giant full-length mirrors, if you've seen my like selfie of the day, after the day pictures, that's where I'm talking about. And there's often like a little shelf next to that. And so, I take one, leave one sticky note system, you do the take one part where you write cool affirmations or quotes that inspire like, are thought provoking, and like really cause teachers to reflect on some accomplishments that they've seen with kids this year. Just really fun, joyful quotes. But you write all those affirmations and quotes down, and you just cover the window or the mirror with them, right, or the bulletin board space or wherever you want. And then you leave a stack of sticky notes, and some fun flair pens or sharpies that you label with your name so that they don't get taken. Because we know teachers and our Sharpies and our flare pens. And then they take a sticky note that they love. And then they write one and leave one. And so, it brings them joy for receiving and gives them the gift of giving. I know it's so freakin good. I'm doing that one tomorrow. I'm super excited about it. I don't think any of my current teachers actually listen to, Camille listens to my podcast, but I don't, I think I'm safe. sharing that and then doing it later. On that same note.
Tip number three for Teacher Appreciation Week is dry erase markers on all the mirrors and all the bathrooms. Now the teacher bathrooms, specifically not to student bathrooms. But dry erase marker comes right off of mirrors if you haven't done this before, I'm still gonna run it by my facilities people and my janitors because they do a really good job of taking care of our building and they like it taking care of a very specific way. So, I'm gonna like run it by them and explain that is not Sharpie and explaining that it just wipes right off. But decorating the mirrors with Sharpies about how loved and appreciated they are, and then leaving those dry erase markers for them to do more. Again, it's like that receive and the gift of giving, like really special and super powerful. So dry erase marker on all the mirrors with cool affirmations and fun little doodles, and I appreciate you and whatever you want. That's super fun.
Okay, number four is something that I'm going to try this year because I'm getting better and better at it. And it brings me great joy. But it also makes me super nervous because I'm still very new at it, but I enjoy it. And that is baked something, bake something. When I think of people who are really talented at baking, I think of Heidi TrueHD who makes these amazing cookies and decorates them beautifully. I think of my neighbor who always used to bring over baked goods all the time. I think my mom's current neighbor who is like always bringing goodies and treats by theirs. It's a special way to show love, baking something for someone. So, bring in some baked goods, leave it on the on the work room table with a sweet little note. You could even make it cheesy look up some corny jokes about baking and sharing love, I don't know, but bake something for your colleagues. That's a great idea.
Okay, number five. You can do two different bouquets. Okay, so a bouquet of flowers obviously that's going to cost a little bit more. So, this is a special one. This isn't a for everybody. gratitude or appreciation gift I'm doing. Oh, I can't even tell you. Oh, gosh. See, this is the problem with Camilla listening. Maybe I just tell her please don't listen. I'll just tell her. Please don't listen. I am doing bouquets for my Spanish teacher colleagues because there's four of us at this elementary school. Yes, I just said that, right. There are four Spanish teachers here at this elementary school. It's amazing. But I'm doing bouquets of flowers and chocolates for them on Friday. So, what you could do is you get a regular flower bouquet, but then you can also buy those like barbecue skewers the wooden ones, and tape and attach chocolate bars or candies to the ends of them and intermingle them in the flowers. So, you can have flowers, and then these like, chocolates spread, spread out. And if you know a teacher doesn't like flowers, then you could just do the chocolates or if you know a teacher doesn't like chocolate, you could just do the flowers. But that's a special one. And it does cost a little bit more but it's a really special one because Hello flowers chocolate. Need any more?
Okay, coffee is number six coffee or tea, their favorite beverage, whatever that might be, again, a little bit more expensive, but super thoughtful. And usually just what a teacher needs first thing in the morning. Speaking of that, let me take a sip of mine. I've been recently obsessed with chocolate cream cold brew from Starbucks, but I get like their vanilla cream, their vanilla sweet cream put inside. It's so good. But I'm trying to like cut back on my coffee consumption. But it's Teacher Appreciation Week. So, I got myself one this morning.
Okay, number seven is really impactful. So, make sure you're listening. Student notes of gratitude. I did this on Thursday of last week, because I knew that teacher appreciate was a teacher appreciation week was early. So, the second activity of two that I did with my students were notes of gratitude. I told students they could write to any educator that they had had before. And I told them, I would deliver any that were still in this building. The amount of students in my third and fourth grade who wrote to pre K or kindergarten teachers was incredible. I had students write to interventionists. I had students, tons of students wrote to our enrichment teachers, I had students, literally four or five, sneak letters into my desk, because they wanted one of them. Oh my god, she's so sweet. She said, You're so thoughtful thinking of others. But I thought you deserved one too. Like, weep. But there's something really profound in receiving a note of gratitude from a child, we we all know it, if you've not received one yet, because you're a new teacher or you've just not had that yet. It could be that the students in your life haven't had that modeled for them yet. So why not be that person. Every year, I create a whole class around writing notes of gratitude for our teachers. And this year, I just did a half a class because I did the first activity that I do every year. And then this was the second half and I just I wrote up a sample letter for them that they could use as sentence stems. Very few did, kids had their own things that they wanted to say. But it's really incredibly powerful to deliver notes of gratitude to these teachers from kids along with a little note from you. I, extra tip, for the homeroom teachers, they tend to get a lot, especially if you're an elementary teacher. And then enrighment teachers, I went ahead and put all of those in folders. I spent the money and bought those 40 cent paper folders. And I stuffed them all in there that way teachers weren't seeing some teachers get bigger stacks than others. And then all the rest I hand delivered. So, I told teachers to come to my room because they got a bigger gift as well. And it was just sitting on top of the folders. So that's just a pro tip if you, if you want to. But man, it's really powerful when they open those up, especially when kids really put a lot of thought and time into it. That's what makes, that's what gets them that's what makes them cry. So, student notes of gratitude, take the time and what you're doing when you're modeling that and teaching that is also really impactful. It's something that they will hopefully carry with them into their futures and into their future professions. Again, like I shared with them that I write gratitude notes every week. I also shared with them that I write gratitudes every morning as part of my morning routine and ritual. And it's important that practice of gratitude is an invaluable gift that we can give our kids. So, student notes of gratitude. Okay, are you ready?
Number eight, a Spotify playlist. Now, how many of you? Do y'all remember a lot live wire or Live Wire? Oh my god, I'm revealing. Oh, God, maybe I shouldn't have said that out loud that I did that. Okay. Anyway, do you remember making CDs and cassettes for your friends? I used to make them just for a couple years. And then we switched to CDs and I made I'm dating myself. I used to make my friends. playlists, right? And you would name it all these cheesy things. Y'all making a Spotify playlist and titling it, that teacher's name is the new making your friend to CD. To be clear, you can put the cheesy stuff on there, you can put music that you know, they love to jam too. You can put artists that you want them to listen to on there, and then send them a pretty little link. How special is that? And I don't I mean, I assume you can do it on Apple Music and all those things. But if you're already paying for Spotify every month, that's just included, right? I know. It's frickin brilliant. You're welcome. You are so welcome. Okay, that was number eight.
Number nine is creating a gratitude jar for that teacher to keep in their room. Now, this can be worked in two different ways. You can get those ball jars, they're not very expensive. Especially if you buy like them in bulk. You can go to Walmart or the Dollar Store, Dollar Store has perfect jars to or vases even. And get these jars and decorate them however you want to you can you can razzle dazzle it with feathers and gems and whatever you want. Or you can keep it really simple. And just keep it as a jar with a little red ribbon on top. And label it gratitude jar. Okay. Inside, put some flair pens, because everybody loves a good player pen, and some notes and your gratitude for them. You can tell them to keep it on their desk. So, students can write notes of gratitude to them whenever they want. You can also say that it's for students to share gratitudes for other students and other teachers throughout the year. Again, going back to this idea of not just giving the gift, but giving them the gift of gift giving, the ability for them to read these gratitudes as the role in bringing them micro moments of joy throughout their weeks or throughout the year. And then being able to give the gratitude to another person is huge. So that's simple, and it's pretty cheap.
And now, I will share my favorite. I will tell you, I am only talking about this very short, because I have a whole blog post on how to do this. And I want you to go and read that for the step-by-step guidance and doing this for yourself. But this is the thing that every year blows teachers minds, and makes them like oh my god, how did you find the time this is incredible. This is the best teacher appreciation gift I've ever been given. And it happens literally every year. I've done this for three different school buildings now. Three different sets of teachers that I've worked with. And it all started with one gift that I was given in my second year of teaching. My assistant principal gave me a word cloud and there's all sorts of words in it. In fact, I'm gonna go get it really quick. Okay, got it. I even have a sticker from my own school still in it, which is super fun. This is again, way back when I taught at Skinner Middle School in Denver. But the bigger words were funny, lovely helpful, which means that those were said most about me and then some of the next biggest words were silly, exciting, random, hilarious. goofball, and then the smallest words were cheerful, weird, enthusiastic, favorite tries. Tries, Miley Cyrus, bubbly, hyper, diva, unique. So basically, these were words those colleagues used to describe me. And the bigger the word the more times they said about me. So that ends I heard me from then on to make this a student project. So, remember how I said that was this the second activity I did that day were notes of gratitude. The first activity I did was I spread out all across the room posters of teacher names. And I just had them go at it, I gave everybody a marker. And I said, Okay, go around and write one positive adjective, the first one that pops into your head for each of these educators. And I said, Remember, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. And we talked a lot about like the importance of gratitude and appreciation for this profession, and how incredibly hard it is. So, kids rotated around, they wrote these positive adjectives. And then I had everybody stopped, and I said, Okay, now, go back to the original poster that you wrote on. And circle star, put a checkmark next to the word, another word, somebody else's word that you agree with. So, they were allowed one checkmark or one star per person, and one word per person. If they got to a poster, and the word that they were going to use for that person was already taken. They did two stars next to two different words. Essentially, what I then did is I took those posters and made these beautiful word clouds out of them. This year, I did a basketball for the coach, I did a beautiful music note for the music teacher, I did a color wheel for the art teacher, I did a giant heart for the teacher that was told that she was loving. I did a butterfly for the teacher that I know is loves butterflies. You can make it into any shape. But then the words that are inside these clouds, were adjectives that students use to describe this educator, and went to the dollar store, I bought frames for $1.25, which by the way, the dollar store is not $1 anymore, it is definitely $1.25 inflation, Jiminy Christmas. Anyways, paid $1.25. But 20 frames and put these 20 pictures, these beautiful word clouds into these frames, wrote the teacher's name on it and boom, done. Now you can choose to include the teacher's name in the word cloud and make it really big, or you can write it on I wrote it on this year because it was faster and easier. But there's no, I cannot tell you how special this gift is, and how teachers will treasure it. In fact, teachers at my last school and the school before that I've seen still have it in their classroom, on their desk highlighted as as a favorite gift they've ever received because it was a gift from all of their students. Recognizing the amazing teacher, the amazing educator, they are, through their own words, really, really special.
I'm not giving you a brain break this episode. Because this one was long enough for that last activity on details on how to do it step by step instructions. Please go read my blog. I'm copying it in the show notes for you. And what I want you to do right now is share this with an educator, you don't have to do it with somebody in your building if you don't want to give away all your Teacher Appreciation Week secrets. But share this with a teacher that you talked with before. Let's share the love. Let's spread the love. Let's spread appreciation. Give a friend or an ex-colleague, it doesn't have to be a world language teacher. These ideas are perfect for all teachers, send them this podcast, tell them that you're some of the ideas, your favorite numbers, I'm going to do numbers one, five and eight. I love the idea of a Spotify playlist, share the numbers that you're going to do ask them which ones they're going to do encourage them to listen, encourage them to share appreciation and gratitude for other educators this Teacher Appreciation Week, and spread the love. Let's do this. I'm so grateful for you. And I'm so thankful that you're here listening to this podcast. Some of the conversations I had at CI were really powerful. And one lady in particular came up to me at the end and told me how impactful and powerful the podcast has been for her. And I need those stories so bad. So, if this has been a powerful episode for you, please do share it. And then do me an extra favor if you have the time and go and write a review on Apple. Even if you listened on Spotify, you could go to apple and write a little review. For me. Spotify doesn't allow you to write reviews. It just loves you to do the stars. But I appreciate you so much. And I'm so grateful that you're listening and supporting me in this way. I hope you have a wonderful, happy, incredible teacher appreciation week, and I hope that you feel appreciated in the way that you deserve. Because I certainly do appreciate you. Thank you, teacher. Have a wonderful day or a wonderful evening whenever you're listening to this and until next time, I'll be teaching la vida loca and I'm sure you will be too. Take care.
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