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5 Social Distancing Approved Teacher Appreciation Ideas

Just because school’s not in session due to social distancing or stay at home measures, doesn’t mean that you have to forgo letting teachers know how much you appreciate them!

Teacher Appreciation Week is the first full week of May, and this year it’s May 3-9.

This year, most schools won’t be in session and will be closed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Here are some easy and safe ways to express your gratitude and appreciation to your school’s teachers!

Goodness knows they deserve a little extra for how quickly they pivoted from in classroom education to distance learning!

Create a Video

Put together a short video starring your kids!

Record them saying thank you or we miss you or something similar.

Or have them draw some signs showing their appreciation for their teachers and school and take pictures:

  • A far back picture of your child holding each sign
  • A close up of your child holding each sign
  • 3 Close ups of the signs, all at different angles

Head to YouTube, and grab one of the free to use songs from their Audio Library.

Pro tip: Choose music that doesn’t require attribution. This way, you won’t have to worry about giving credit to the musician, which adds a step to the video creation process.

If you have an iPhone, open iMovie and create your video!

Follow the specific steps outlined here.

If you don’t have an iPhone, find a video creator app (I hear FilmoraGo is a good one) to make your video.

Once you have the video all done, post on your PTO’s Facebook Page, Instagram profile or email the video link to your teachers.

Send a Picture

If you’re less tech-savvy, simplify your expression of gratitude.

Take a pictures of your kids smiling, doing homework, holding a sign, note or card and send them to your teachers.

Write a Note

Have your kids write a note of thanks to their teachers.

Better yet, you personally write a note to them!

Keep in mind that most teachers aren’t in the school buildings and are working from home so you’ll need to hang on to the note until school has re-opened.

But in the meantime, you can snap a picture of it and email it to her.

Or send a message in your school’s messaging app (Class Dojo, etc.).

Make it a Group Effort

Make it easy for other families to hop aboard the appreciation train!

First, create a hashtag for all families to use on their (public) Facebook and Instagram posts thanking teachers.

Next, Let all families know about this and give them a list of possible ideas (or, just tell them to check out this post!) and the date to begin posting.

Once you’ve settled on a hashtag, let your Principal know and ask that she spread the word to school staff and teachers.

Also let her know the date messages will begin and make sure you have some queued up to begin the first day!

Creating the appreciation feed is a fun and no cost way for families to get involved.

And after the event, you’ll have some great pictures to use for future PTO publicity!

Plan a Social Media Campaign

Get the community involved by scheduling out some social media prompts to help families express their appreciation.

Here are some ideas to get you inspired:

  • What do you love most about your teacher?
  • What’s the funniest thing your teacher said?
  • What do you miss about seeing your teacher every day?
  • What will you say to your teacher when you next see her?
  • What’s something fun in your teacher’s classroom?

Include eye catching graphics

To help your prompt posts stand out, add cute graphics!

You can grab a set of colorful graphics to do just that here.

Send a Gift Card

Instead of giving a physical gift, why not send a gift card instead?

If you’re sending a gift card from your family to your children’s teachers, this option is a lovely idea that teacher will be grateful for.

This idea has the added bonus of supporting businesses right now when they really need it.

Choose a local business to support to make the biggest community impact!

Ideas for gift cards teachers will love (but know that they’ll love anything!):

  • Starbucks / local coffee house
  • Target
  • Local gift shop
  • Local bagel shop
  • Your teacher’s favorite lunch spot
  • Local ice cream shop
  • Local bakery
  • Etsy
  • Teachers Pay Teachers

Wait, aren’t gift cards against the rules for PTO/PTAs to give?

There’s no written rule against giving gift cards to teachers, even if your PTO a 501c3.

There are some issues with gift cards that you should be aware of.

One issue is that the gift card creates a taxable event in the eyes of the IRS.

And that means the value of the gift card counts as income that the teachers should declare.

Another issue is that there’s no accountability for how the gift cards are used, and are a potential opportunity for fraud.

And a third issue is that compensating teachers with gift cards somehow invokes an employee-employer relationship between the teacher and the PTO.

As a practical matter, this last issue holds the least amount of water, especially given the nature of the current pandemic.

The fact that the amount of the gift card is likely to be relatively low, and our inability to recognize teachers in a normal or practical fashion means that giving your teachers a gift card from the PTO is probably ok.

Of course, you should check with your group’s attorney for their final word on the matter or decide on a different option if you’re not comfortable with the gift card option.

Read more on whether PTOs can legally give gift cards here.

Announce your Appreciation

If you’re not restricted to your home, you can set up lawn signs announcing your appreciation for teachers.

If you are restricted, you can always et up the signs in your own yard.

Either way, make sure to snap a few pictures to share of the signs and send to school staff.

The best thing about this idea is that these signs are reusable year over year!

These reusable teacher appreciation lawn signs are so cute!

What an eye catcher that your entire staff will love!

Another great teacher appreciation lawn sign set!

Love the polka dot letters!

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And here’s another version of clever lawn signs for staff appreciation.

These wouldn’t take long to set up, and are a great way to start the day for your teachers and staff.

Watch this!

Social Distance Approved Teacher Appreciation Ideas

Over to you!

How are you tweaking Teacher Appreciation plans this year?

I’d love to hear about this in the comments!

Recommended Reading

This posts is one in a series of running your PTO during this pandemic.

Also make sure to read about how to finish out this school year and handle officer elections.

I’m a participant in the Etsy and Amazon Services LLC Associates Programs, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com or Etsy.com.  This means that when you click and make a purchase at a site via a link I have provided, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products that I personally use and genuinely recommend. I always have my readers’ best interests in mind.

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Another great tool for zeroing in on what teachers would really love is to ask directly! This Teacher Favorites printable is a great way to do that!

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