- Education and Science
Thank a Teacher
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.
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
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...
How do you thank a teacher?