There was a time where I wouldn’t have been the one starting a conversation about random acts of kindess for teachers. I haven’t always been kind or charitable towards my kids’ teachers. That sounds terrible, right? I used to be that parent who’d be annoyingly sweet to the teacher’s face while getting in a passive-aggressive dig about copious amounts of homework, standardized testing or how ridiculous I thought the 100 Days of School project was.
I was that person. I’m not proud of that.
I can’t really tell you when my “aha” moment came. I don’t think it was one single instance. Volunteering at my kids’ school has given me an insight into the “behind the scenes” aspect of being a teacher. One of my kids has really struggled with reading and through the process of pinpointing the best way to help him, I saw how much the teachers and the administrators really cared about my child.
Newsflash: public school teachers don’t make a large salary and although I’m sure there are exceptions, the vast majority of teachers are teachers because they care about the education of our children.
I used to be that parent who gave elaborate teacher gifts every Christmas. I used to be that parent who gave a large donation to fund the Teacher Appreciation Week gift. And you know what? I’m sure those gifts were appreciated and valued.
And you know what else? I’m sure my largess had something to do with the fact that I felt guilty for being that jerk of a parent the teachers probably hated to deal with.
13 Random Acts of Kindness Activities for Your Child’s Teacher
I’m not saying teachers don’t like gifts. But, the next time you think about teacher gifts, why not turn your thoughts to kindness acts? Sure a random act of kindness might involve a purchase sometimes but when we put genuine kindness behind the consumer aspect of gift-giving, something awesome happens. I’m not saying I had a two-sizes-too-small heart or anything like that but showing my kids’ teachers kindness is addictive and contagious. Try some of these things and you’ll see.
Here are 13 Teacher-Themed Random Act of Kindness Initiatives that will give you some ideas during this season of giving…and all year ‘round, too.
1. Send a handwritten thank you note
Sit down and write your child’s teacher a note. Not an email. Not a text via whatever electronic messaging system you use to communicate with her classroom. A handwritten note. Buy or make a pretty card and tell your teacher why you appreciate her (or him.) What have they done that you especially appreciate? What snippets of classroom life does your child bring home that you can express thanks for?
2. Create a “teacher’s lounge” gift basket
Put together a basket with bottled water, bottled coffee or tea drinks, fun and healthy snacks, and maybe some fun and not-so-healthy snacks. Everyone likes chocolate, right?
Tuck a note or card into the basket (there I go with those handwritten notes again!) letting the staff know how much you appreciate them and value their contributions.
3. Create a “staff restroom” gift basket
Bundle a selection of pretty soaps, hand sanitizer and air freshener into a container and drop it off at the front office. You could also include some common toiletry items such as hairspray or wet wipes. You could even splurge for some of the nice toilet paper!
Think about it: Most school restrooms are probably stocked with industrial grade supplies (AKA the kind of TP that feels like sandpaper), unless someone take the time to upgrade. Why not be that someone?
4. Know their details
Do you know your teacher’s birthday? Favorite hobby? Is she a chocoholic or a wine lover? Knowing a little bit about your teacher’s life outside the classroom can help you hone in on how to give the gift of kindness.
And no, a random act of kindness doesn’t have to involve a buying something but taking some time to get to know your teacher as a person might spark some ideas on how to keep the kindness flowing. If she’s a cat person or a Houston Astros fan, a heartfelt note written on a piece of note paper decorated with cats or a reference to her team winning the World Series is going to make her day.
5. Ask “how can I help?”
And mean it. If you have the time to volunteer in class, offer some of that time. If you’re maxed out during the day, ask if you can cut or sort papers at home.
If you can give your time, offer at various points in the year. A teacher probably gets dozens of offers of help on back-to-school night but she might really need the help in mid-February. Ask often.
6. Donate books
Keep an eye out at yard sales and used book stores for grade-appropriate books. If your teacher can’t use them in her classroom library, she’ll know someone who can.
You can also consider giving the teacher a subscription to a magazine or other educational service. Check beforehand to see what she’s got and if she has a wish list…the answer is probably yes.
7. Transportation Passes
If your school is in an urban area, how about buying some metro or train passes? You can also look into getting gift cards for car services like Uber or Lyft.
Give these to individual teachers or bundle them and give them to the school administrators to hand out as they see fit.
8. Buy gift cards or ask for the teacher’s Amazon wish list
I guarantee your teacher has a list of things she needs (and wants) for her classroom. A lot of the things she uses on a daily basis don’t come from your tax dollars; they come from her pocket. Make her day and ask for her wish list.
Or, just slip her a gift card. Even the smallest amount is appreciated.
9. Involve your kids
Ask your kids what they love about their teacher. They will come up with something and it will probably be something you’ve never thought of. If you’re making a card or writing a gratitude note, let your kids help out. Even if they’re too young to write complete sentences, maybe they can write their name or decorate the card or paper with stickers or drawings.
My son’s second-grade teacher gives kids who got a 100% or more on their spelling test a piece of gum to chew during the next week’s test. If I hadn’t asked my son “What’s your favorite thing about Mrs. Haese?” I would have never known this. Gum is a big deal when you’re seven.
10. Brag on her (or him!)
If a teacher has done something exceptional, shout it out. Most schools have some sort of teacher recognition forum, such as “teacher of the month.” Check to see if your community or school district has a teacher recognition or awards program you can nominate your teacher for.
Send a note to the principal or vice principal to let them know why your teacher rocks. Compliments are one of the best acts of kindness we can bestow. They are free and easy.
11. Just say thank you
That might sound too simple but a sincere, verbal thank you is never a bad idea.
12. Don’t forget the staff and the specials
The non-teaching staff (office workers, cafeteria workers, and custodians) deserve your thanks and kindness too. These hard-working folks are often overlooked.
Also, think about the music teacher, the art teacher and the librarian. Teachers that don’t have their own static class are making a tremendous impact on our kids so don’t forget about them!
13. Mark your calendar
We tend to focus on appreciating and showing kindness to our teachers during certain times of the year, such as Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Week, or the end of the school year. Mark your calendar for March and resolve to perform an act of kindness for your teacher during a time where she might be lacking kudos and encouragement.
DOWNLOAD THIS FREE PRINTABLE and share with your friends. Share with your fellow classroom parents or members of the PTA. Hang it on your family’s bulletin board or slap a magnet on that baby and tack it to the front of your fridge as a reminder.
It’s okay to need a reminder to do important things. This is an important thing.
More Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
This post is day 9 in a 30-day Random Acts of Kindness series. See all of the posts, plus other RAOK ideas and resources by clicking the image below.