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Things Not to Do for Teacher Appreciation Week

Things Not to Do for Teacher Appreciation Week


Believe it or not, Teacher Appreciation Week is not a time that most teachers look forward to. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most teachers wouldn’t mind if it would go away completely. It’s not that we don’t want to be appreciated because there is a serious lack of appreciation in our career field! We would just rather not have to endure the added activities or burdens the week tends to put on us. 

Many schools give out a calendar for Teacher Appreciation Week of “suggested activities” for students and staff to engage in. They tend to be exceedingly lame, like “Give your favorite teacher a high five!” (isn’t that how COVID started), or “Write a letter of appreciation for a favorite co-worker!” (ain’t nobody got time for that!) 

But the worst is the mandatory additional activities teachers must pay for and/or participate in and the awkward and downright insulting “gifts” we get from administration. How awkward and crappy are these gifts, you might ask? Well, how about a single Q-tip? Yeah, it really is that bad. 

Condescending “Gifts” from Admin

Some school administrators just can’t seem to stop themselves from teaching some kind of lesson when it comes to celebrating teachers. One administrator, for example, gave the staff a cake with a lovely rainbow on it, but it also had the number “793” written on it. Next to the cake was a pictorial slip of paper explaining that staff had been absent 793 times that school year. It also pointed out the most absences were on Fridays, implying that teachers were not sick but merely taking a three-day weekend. One staff member was so insulted they smashed their fist right into the middle of the adorable sun at the end of the cake rainbow. 

Another insulting and ridiculous gift from admin. was a single Q-Tip taped to a slip of paper that said, “Quit Taking It Personally.” It goes on to explain that “this time of year, we are all tired and tend to let things bother us more easily. Just Q-TIP!” I know that for me, when a student calls me a stupid b*tch, this little nugget of wisdom will help me to stop taking things like that so personally. It is sure to roll right off of me!

One superintendent who makes $235K a year sent an email to all staff with the subject line “Pay isn’t everything.” The body of the email included a link to an article titled “Why Teachers Are Turning Down Lucrative Offers to Stay at This School.” 

One administrator sent out the “prompt for your end of year evaluation” as a celebration of the teachers, while another put a large piece of red felt outside the front door and told everyone he had “rolled out the red carpet for them!”

A group of administrators thanked themselves for their hard work on the district’s social media accounts, while another gave out succulent plants with a card that said “Succ it up!”

Baffling Nuggets of “Wisdom” from Admin.

One year later, I still can’t tell you what this means. There was a piece of paper with three happy faces and the words “Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!” but then it read, “Don’t forget to treat yourself and your teacher friends by unlocking the bathroom door.” Is this supposed to be a remind not to lock the door as you leave so people aren’t locked out, mixed with an appreciation message? Or is the special treat getting to see each other pee? The world may never know. 

A principal sent an email that said, “Let’s Give Our Teachers a Standing O!” Then, under a few clapping emojis it said, “Today’s assignment: Virtual Applause Parade.” No one knew if they were actually supposed to do something since it said “assignment” or if the email was some kind of gift. 

Supply Closet Junk

Another superintendent gave each teacher a Ziploc bag with a handful of paperclips and a slip of paper that said, “Thank you for holding it together.” That lame gift was a bit too much, as many teachers quit not long after. Teachers were also given a box of paper clips at a different school with the message, “It’s amazing how you keep it together.” 

One roll of 2-ply toilet paper was provided for the entire staff, along with a poster that said, “Life is rough enough. Enjoy this 2-ply roll on us!” Another person had the brilliant idea to stock the women’s bathroom with sanitary napkins and tampons with the message, “Teachers are the best. Period.” Classy. 

Shockingly, one school gave their staff a card with the suicide hotline number on it and a pencil that said, “Your best is good enough!” Even more baffling was the gift of one single sock with a card that said, “Dobby was given a sock. Dobby was free. So are you. Enjoy your weekend.” 

Here’s some more “gifts” that came directly out of the supply closet:

  • A pack of printer paper
  • Two pencil erasers
  • One highlighter
  • Hammers (the principal said he found them deep in the supply closet and thought they might be useful… yeah… and dangerous!)
  • A calendar from 2014
  • An unwrapped straw
  • A mug and a t-shirt that was so old the school had a different name
  • One plastic spoon

Calendar of Crap

Since Teacher Appreciation goes on for a whole week, some schools feel compelled to make some kind of activity for each day of the week. The problem is the activity is usually crap. For example, one school had “a visit from central office!” as a special treat on one of those days. If you know anything about schools, this is something that causes diarrhea rather than elation. 

Another activity included blood pressure screening, which is very useful as a teacher but also just a reminder of what the job is doing to our health. Sometimes the activity will be a small as “high five your teacher today,” so get your hand sanitizer ready or an email with an “inspirational thought” from some administrator… no thanks. 

A Bad Time for Bad News

Last year, one school district used Teacher Appreciation Week to let all of the employees know they had made a payroll mistake and would be deducting a significant amount of money from their paycheck for the rest of the year. Great timing. 

Another district choose this week to let teachers know about rising insurance costs, while another announced massive layoffs. 

The Worst Puns You Will Ever Hear in Your Life

What is it about schools that think teachers love puns so much? Instead of saying “Thanks for puddin’ our students first!” just gimme the damn pudding cup and leave me alone! What am I supposed to do with a fake golden key that leads to nowhere except marvel at the cheesy pun that reads, “You are the key to our student’s success.” (Ironically, the teachers at the school are not allowed keys to the staff bathroom.)

One group of teachers got a box of tissues with the message “Everyone nose what a great teacher you are” while another bunch of confused teachers got a package of salt with a slip of paper that said, “Thank you for being so sweet and adding your own flavor to teaching.” Maybe they thought it was sugar? 

What is probably one of the worst pun gifts I have ever heard of is the post-it pad with a googly eye and a stick that said it was an “iPad.” Get it? 

Beyond Random

  • Boxes of ointments with an expiration date of the following month
  • Staff lunch of three pieces of broccoli and the tiniest piece of grilled chicken in the universe
  • Taco seasoning
  • A tiny box of raisins
  • Nacho cheese
  • The tiniest bottle of bubbles
  • An avocado in a paper bag

Stuff You Have to Pay For/Do Yourself

It is common to have teachers donate money to a raffle for each other. Sometimes the prize is a gift card, sometimes it’s a gift basket full of junk. Teachers are often asked to write notes of appreciation to each other. 

The Gift of Nothing

One teacher shared that she won a Panera gift card in a raffle during Teacher Appreciation so she went there for lunch and found out it was empty. 

Need some good ideas for what to get for teachers? Check out this article on the good, the bad, and the worst or if you need more awful gifts to laugh at that are specifically from admin. click here!

If you have a teacher you really appreciate who happens to have an excellent sense of humor, check out!

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Jane Morris

Jane Morris is the pen name of an ex-teacher who would really like to tell you more about herself but is worried awful administrators will come after her for spilling their dirty little secrets. Jane has taught English for over 15 years in a major American city. She received her B.A. in English and Secondary Education from a well-known university and her M.A. in Writing and Literature from an even fancier (and more expensive) university. As a professional queen of commiseration turned published author, Jane’s foremost passion in life is to make people laugh through the tears.

She has written several highly acclaimed books unpacking the reality of teaching and life inside the school system. You can view her full library of works here.