Celebrating Teachers at a Distance

Communities across America will celebrate their teachers during National Teacher Appreciation Week May 4–8, with a focused celebration on May 5 for National Teacher Day. Principals often lead the charge, but the current circumstances make some traditional activities a bit more challenging to execute. So, we asked a group of principals how they are celebrating their teachers next week. Unsurprisingly, you’ve gotten creative with socially distant yet thoughtful celebrations:

(Identifying information has been removed in some cases—we don’t want to spoil any surprises!)

  • Yard signs like these in Ankeny, IA, remain a popular celebration. Nothing about the COVID-19 virus prevents a school from planting a sign in a teacher’s front yard. Too late to order a sign? Ask your students to make them or volunteer to chalk-art the sidewalk of a teacher who lives close by.
  • Grab-n-go bags are also popular. The National Honor Society at Canyon Ridge High School in Idaho took an extra step by attaching a raffle ticket to each bag for an additional surprise.

  • Friendly words are a great way to express gratitude. Compile a video using clips of students offering kind words to and about their teachers, or identify students to create a video for each day of the week.
  • Here’s a gift that will keep giving—for the coming months at least: locally sewn safety face masks in school colors and with the school logo for each teacher. Teachers can wear them at events, model safe habits, and help promote the school.
  • Can’t decide on one celebration? Do several of them. Principal Derrick Lawson worked with his 34 fellow principals in the Desert Sands Unified School District in California to coordinate a weeklong series of activities. These are driven by students, easy to execute, and deeply valued by teachers. Sometimes, students just need an occasion to share a word of thanks with their teachers.
  • There’s no way 2019 NASSP National Assistant Principal of the Year Meghan Redmond was going to let her Chief Ivan Blunka School teachers in New Stuyahok, AK, miss out on their planned ice cream social. So each teacher will receive a quart of ice cream to enjoy at home during a no-contact Zoom ice cream celebration.

Have a plan for celebrating teachers next week? Share in the comments below and post your pictures on Twitter next week with #ThankATeacher.

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