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Principals love treating their teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week! Many have been preparing all year: catered lunches, dessert bars, coffee carts traveling the hallway, and/or different gifts delivered to classrooms each day.

Empty school buildings mean a change of plans.

With schools closed across the country and around the world, teachers are working harder than ever learning new platforms, contacting students and parents, competing for attention, and teaching from home while taking care of their own kids.

They are exhausted and stressed out, but mostly they are worried about the success, health, safety, and general well-being of their students. 

Our teachers need a boost to their morale now more than ever, but how do we provide that while maintaining social distancing?

There are some great ideas floating around social media. Here are a few. Some are only feasible if you have a small campus, some would only work if most of your teachers lived in your community, while a few could be accomplished regardless of these factors.

Baskets Delivered to Porches

Many principals of smaller schools are leaving baskets or bags of treats and gifts on their staff members’ porches. Why not go with a theme?

Movie Night: gift cards/certificates/promo codes for Redbox or streaming services like Fandango or Vudu; microwavable popcorn, sodas, and candy

Spa Day: facial masks, bath bombs, foot scrubs, candles, and bath soap

Treats Delivered

We all understand the importance of supporting small businesses during this difficult time for our communities. Consider partnering with a local business to provide treats for your teachers. 

Buy a pizza for each teacher at a pizza shop in town and give the teachers a one-week window to make arrangements for the type of pizza and whether they want delivery or pick up. 

Or have a local bakery prepare cookies or cupcakes with your school colors, initials, or mascot on them. The shop might be able to deliver them or teachers could stop in and pick them up. It is more meaningful, though, if you deliver them yourself.

Of course, donuts are always a crowd-pleaser.

If you have one or two teachers who live a good distance away, send them an e-gift card to a chain pizza shop, bakery, or donut store in their community.

When gifting treats, always remember that some teachers are diabetic and others are just very health-conscious. You probably know who those teachers are from previous catered meals and potlucks. Consider gift cards to a smoothie shop, a fruit basket, or a veggie tray for them.

Videos and Notes

In lieu of spending money in this tight economic season, many principals are penning personalized notes to each member of the staff, stating what they appreciate about them personally along with appreciation for what they bring to the team. 

Most of us have a collection of cards and letters we have received over the years and know full well how much these mean. In this time when it seems like everyone is a little on edge and dealing with the new stressors the pandemic has brought, teachers could really use individualized encouragement.

And, we’ve all seen the variety of goofy videos that have been created. It could be as simple as the admin team each taking a moment to voice their appreciation. Or, you could go all out and splice together videos of each of you lip-syncing and dancing to a crazy song. Throw in some silly hats or costumes (maybe even the mascot) and have some fun with it.

Yard Signs

A lot of principals have been putting yard signs in their teachers’ yards. 

_____Elementary School Rock Star Lives Here

Whether Here or There, _____Intermediate School Teachers Teach Because We Care

Do Not Disturb - Virtual Teaching in Progress by an Awesome _____High School Teacher

Miscellaneous

Gift cards for local restaurants that are open for drive-thru and carryout are definitely a win right now (everyone is getting tired of cooking!).

Amazon gift cards are always a good idea.

If you have the budget for it, all teachers would appreciate a set of headphones with mics to use during virtual teaching!

Some schools are playing virtual games as a staff.

Send a Google Form out to parents and students in which they can share favorite qualities and/or memories of teachers (either by video or written out). After curating them, post on the school’s webpage and social media.

Similarly, have each teacher list an affirming adjective describing each of their colleagues and create a Wordle or Word Cloud for each.

Although we have to be apart physically during this time, there are lots of ways you can still support and encourage your staff!

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