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Thank a Teacher

Updated on May 13, 2014

How to thank the great teacher in your life

I was raised by a teacher, who was also raised by a teacher. My brother was a teacher, and between them, my 3 kids have had dozens of teachers over their school careers. In my own personal experience, a handful of exceptional teachers turned my self-image around as a kid and helped me reach my learning potential. To me, of all the factors that go into the quality of a child's education, nothing touches teacher quality. That's why it's so important to explicitly thank teachers who are giving their all, rather than assuming they know how we feel.

It's easy to thank a teacher, if you keep 3 simple rules in mind.

(photo: sheriffmitchell via photopin cc) ~ cropped for shape)

1. Be specific

"You're a great teacher" is wonderful, Even better is thanking a teacher for something more specific that he or she brought to the learning experience:

> "That Underground Railroad simulation you did with the class last week was amazing! Kevin never talks about school at dinner, but he did that night!"

> "The morning meetings are really helping Rachel. She was so proud of getting up the courage to put a problem into the box, and so grateful to hear ideas from classmates on how to solve it."

> "Alex was struggling so much with writing, but when you took the time to work on his pencil grip, that made such a difference!"

> "Jenna says it was your idea to call on her first in each book discussion, so she could get answering over with and enjoy the rest of the discussion without anxiety. Thanks so much for 'getting' my shy kid!"

Specific thank yous reinforce what a teacher is doing well, which enriches the experience for all students. And they carry more meaning than a vague statement.

2. Be authentic

Great teachers deserve praise and thanks -- but inevitably, kids will get at least one teacher over their school career who isn't all that great. That's a shame, but unless the problems are egregious, it's good practice for life. (They're going to have a not-so-great boss someday, or college professor, or roommate, or employee ..... so it's good to be prepared.)

Taking the mediocre (or worse) teacher in stride, though, doesn't mean you have to thank him or her as you would an excellent teacher. This is the time to trot out your mom's "if you don't have anything nice to say..." advice. Just keep mum unless the non-great teacher surprises you with a sudden burst of excellence. In that case, send a specific word of thanks asap, as it may inspire more good stuff!

Bottom line: Say what you mean, and don't say what you don't mean. It always shows.

3. Be consistent

Winter break and year-end are great times to say thank you with a teacher gift or group teacher gift. But don't let those be the only times you express gratitude.

Our natural tendency as parents is to stay quiet while things are going well, then get in touch only when there's a problem. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but think of it from a teacher's perspective: All I get is negative feedback. It presents a skewed view of how families really feel.

To combat that, try sending a short -- like a line or two -- email every 3-4 weeks, mentioning something specific (see tip 1) the teacher is doing or has done that you appreciate. Not only will this reinforce his or her best practices, but it also softens the blow, should you have a problem to bring up down the road. Problem solving in partnership with the teacher is easier if you've done some positive relationship building first, and a few short, quick emails can do just that.

~~Help your kid thank a teacher!~~~

Make it fun -- and easy -- with personalized fill-in notes

Writing teacher thank you notes is an important skill for kids, but a blank page can be intimidating. These cute stationery designs featuring children's art can be personalized with your child's name, and they provide writing prompts or "starters" that make it a breeze to craft a great note.

More teacher thank you resources...

> Teacher Appreciation Quotes and Sayings (from quotegarden.com)

> National Day of Listening: Thank Your Teacher (from npr.com)

> Teacher Poems (from poemsource.com)

How do you thank a teacher?

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    • CampingmanNW profile image

      CampingmanNW 5 years ago

      Interesting lens. I dare say....anyone who states they never had a teacher that affected their lives is either kidding themselves or paid no attention in school anyway. mine was a fourth grade teacher who attempted everything to teach me how to spell properly and when all else failed? She went to the local stationary store and purchased a dictionary with her own money. She then drove to our home, introduced herself to my Mother and proceeded to explain her visit and my new assignment for the year. I was to start at the beginning of the dictionary and write down ten (10) words a day. I was to show the spelling and pronunciation of each. A death sentence to a 9 year old. My Mother was on board with the program. No counseling from the school or school board, just one teacher and one Mother getting together to help a wayward student. To be honest, within a couple of weeks, I had the routine down pat and by the end of the school year I had completed that dictionary and was an excellent speller. I maintained contact with that teacher until her passing when I was in my 40's. I would even stop in and talk to her class when invited. A lasting impression was made upon me by that teacher to learn to speak and spell properly. Her adage: "You will be judged throughout your life on how well you speak, spell and write." can you guress? She was correct.

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