8 Innovative Ways to Kickstart Teacher Appreciation This School Year

Back to School Teacher Appreciation Ideas

Despite the ever-changing way we navigate the new norms of teaching, the passion and love that are put into ensuring the school year begins smoothly remains constant. The inclusion of community building activities for students and staff can not only motivate, but also relieve some of the anxiety that comes with a new beginning.

Instead of another typical icebreaker, check out eight innovative ways to welcome staff back to the classroom this year to foster teacher appreciation and make learning fun.

1. Let Formality Go

It’s mid-August. It’s still hot outside. Many teachers may think they should dress formally to start the school year. Instead, try a more relaxed approach. For example, allowing your teachers to wear shorts can help start the school year in a laid-back manner.

2. Make the First Day a Fun Day

Elementary schools often have field days and fun outdoor days at the end of the school year and teacher appreciation activities in the spring. Reverse this, and have a field day or fun day on the first day of school as a way to welcome back students and teachers. It sets the mood for the year early, and you can reinforce this throughout the year with more unique student and teacher activities.

3. Creative Theme Week

Much like a fun day on the first day, have a theme week during the start of school. Teachers can play on the theme with their lessons. Mascots, trending characters, movies, school colors, fun lunches, bright decorations, and a fun atmosphere can help everyone see that returning to school doesn’t have to be stressful. Check out this great list of theme ideas from Brain Ninjas for even more theme ideas!

4. Treats in the Break Room

Food on the first day is a welcome sight. Teachers love coffee! For breakfast, consider getting coffee delivered and having pastries, fruit, and even some breakfast sandwiches available. Lunch is easy: pizza or sandwiches. You can even send out a quick Google form to ask teachers their preferences for breakfast and lunch treats. Personalize teacher appreciation by celebrating all of their efforts with food and drinks they love! 

5. Create Fun Routines

Teachers try to make learning fun for their students. Similarly, you can make routines fun for teachers. Change the routine every once in a while. Rather than have a bell announce times of day, use music instead. Send wacky morning announcements via TV, email, text message, or traditional paper. Instead of boring classroom doors, decorate them with bright colors, paints, and decorations that make your teachers smile.

On the first day or even the first week, alter the routine a bit more by welcoming teachers back to school. Do this in both a group setting and individually. Let them know they are a valuable asset to the school and that you are there for them throughout the year.

6. Make the Rounds

Perhaps the most important thing you can do on Day One of the new school year is to be present. Make the rounds through the school. Duck your head in on the classrooms to say hello. Wear a wacky hat that makes kids laugh. Teachers will appreciate your efforts and subtle way of checking in on them if they need any help. Sometimes, an extra hand at the appropriate moment can help get teachers through the day successfully and without stress.

7. Personalized Thank You Notes & Customized Planners

When was the last time you wrote a formal note by hand instead of on a computer? Think about when you write a thank-you note to someone special or add your message to a greeting card.

In the same way, write a note by hand to each teacher. Make it personal to them. It doesn’t have to be too long, maybe three or four paragraphs of two to three sentences each. Each note should be heartfelt, genuine, and meaningful for each staffer who reads their message on the first day.

Another great way to show teacher appreciation is to gift them customized teacher planners. You can include a personalized note to your staff, pick and choose content that would be relevant just for them, and even have them contribute to the design by letting teachers vote on a cover design! With so many different options, a customized teacher planner is an excellent way show teacher appreciation. Explore customizable teacher planner options here!

8. Letters to Teachers From Parents

Principals and teachers often send notes to parents before the school year starts. Why not have parents send notes to teachers along with their kids? Notes can ask questions, convey teacher appreciation, or help teachers learn more about the precious kids in their care.

Notes on paper can make an emotional and powerful connection between people. Letters are physical and tangible, and can be saved to read anytime. In this world of email and text messages, a handwritten note can leave a lasting impression on people who write and receive them.