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At the California School of Education (CSOE) at Alliant International University, we appreciate teachers all year long. But we’re excited for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8–May 12) where we give extra thanks for the people who do one of the most challenging jobs in the world. The idea started in 1944 by Arkansas school teacher, Mattye White Woodridge. But it took decades of lobbying Congress before they created an official National Teacher’s Day on March 7, 1980. Thanks to continued efforts by the NEA and the National PTA, Teacher Appreciation Day transformed into a full week of recognition in 1985 which we celebrate every May.

Showing appreciation for teachers is a no-brainer, but is there any gift that can truly honor and thank them? We went straight to the source and asked teachers what they want most (aside from an all-expenses paid vacation) and what to avoid (mugs…definitely, no mugs!).


Buy supplies from their class wish list.

Teachers shouldn’t have to pay for their own classroom supplies, yet they often do. Giving them a break on this expense means more money in their pockets while helping their students.


Give a gift card from a local shop or restaurant.

Not only is it a great way to say thank you but it supports local businesses. Plus, it shows you did your research to find out what he or she likes. Teachers love that!


Get them flowers or a beautiful plant.

Everyone loves receiving flowers. A floral arrangement or even a beautiful plant can brighten up the classroom and boost your teacher’s mood and concentration.


Treat them to a spa day.

Kids are wonderful. But after teaching dozens of them, five days a week for nine months, a spa day is essential self-care. Help them melt the stress away!


Pay for a night at a local hotel.

A vacation might not be feasible but even one “staycation” day at a hotel can bring a nice  change of scenery and a little rejuvenation. Don’t forget to include room service!


Get personal.

If you can’t afford to buy anything, go the heartfelt route. A personal note of thanks can really make a teacher feel seen for all their hard work, and this personal effort goes a long way.


Create something one-of-a-kind.

Personalized stationery, notepads, or anything with their name on it shows you took the extra step to give them something unique.


Gift cards, part two.

If you don’t know a local place, gift cards from bigger chain stores are just as welcome. Amazon and Target are among the top choices, but retailers like Patagonia for the outdoor enthusiast, are also great!


Lunch is on you.

We’re not saying cafeteria food is bad, but delivering a catered lunch to the teachers’ lounge is sure to earn you a gold star. Make it a group gift with other parents to share the costs.


Christmas in May

One teacher said that some parents give her Christmas ornaments. Every year when she decorates her tree, she gets a beautiful reminder of the students she’s taught.


And don’t limit it to current educators. Teacher Appreciation Week is the perfect time to reach out to your former teachers and let them know how they inspired you, pushed you to be better, and helped shape your life.

Need more ideas?

Many national chain stores and restaurants offer special deals and discounts for teachers at this time of year. Check out this link for a full list. For more resources, visit the National PTA website or the Teacher Appreciation Week page at the National Education Association (NEA) website. And if you’re giving shoutouts to your teachers on social media, include the #ThankATeacher and #TeacherAppreciationDay hashtags. You can also donate to an educational organization such as the National Education Association Foundation,, Donors Choose, Fund for Teachers, or

We all know that the hours are long, the work is hard, and the pay should be higher. The best teachers choose this career because they love it. We hope this inspires you to show some love to the amazing teachers in your life.

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