April 29, 2015

#ThankATeacher on National Teacher Day (May 5, 2015)

Posted by Laura Guertin

“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.”
–Japanese proverb

National Teacher Day is described by the National Education Association (NEA) as a day of honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.  In 2015, National Teacher Day is being celebrated on Tuesday, May 5, while the week of May 4-8 is being designated as Teacher Appreciation Week.  This annual holiday is always celebrated in the United States during the first full week of May (although the state of Massachusetts has designated its own Teachers’ Day on the first Sunday of June).

This holiday has an interesting history, yet the beginning of the story is unclear.  One narrative gives credit to a Wisconsin teacher, who began in 1944 corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers.  Another version of the story credits an Arkansas teacher for working to establish the first teacher appreciation day.  Whether the idea originated in Wisconsin or Arkansas, it is documented that in 1953 Eleanor Roosevelt urged the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day.  But it wasn’t until March 7, 1980, after the National Education Association (NEA) along with its Kansas and Indiana state affiliates and the Dodge City, Kansas, local chapter lobbied Congress to declare National Teacher Day – yet, it was only for that year.  The NEA and others continued to celebrate teachers on the first Tuesday in March until 1984, when the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) designated the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week. The following year, the NEA voted to make the Tuesday of that week National Teacher Day.

What can each of us do to show our appreciation to teachers that are making a difference in the classrooms of our past, present and future?  Some ideas I found floating around the internet, with some additions of my own, are included below:

  • Send a handwritten thank-you note to one of your own teachers from the past with a thank you for the impact he/she made on your life and career.  And/or send a thank-you note to a teacher friend/colleague that is currently in the classroom.  We all know the impact a thank-you note can make, and how a handwritten note is treasured for a long time.
  • Offer to volunteer in a classroom, even if it is to come in for one day as a guest lecturer.  As teachers struggle to keep students connected and focused when the school year winds down, help a teacher by doing an organized activity with students.  Or even give a lecture about the career options in the Earth sciences, or about the latest geologic activity with volcanoes and earthquakes, etc.  If you can’t visit the classroom in person, offer to connect via Skype or Google Hangout.
  • Gift a gift card, whether it be a gift card that would allow a teacher to purchase materials or books for the classroom (such as from an office supply store or Amazon/Barnes & Noble), or a gift card they can spend on themselves, such as to a local restaurant or coffee shop.
  • Purchase a magazine subscription that a teacher can use to stay current with his/her own science content knowledge and then share as a resource in the classroom.  Think of magazines such as Scientific American, National Geographic, and EARTH Magazine!
  • Give a shout-out on social media with the hashtag #ThankATeacher, and be sure to include the Twitter handle or Facebook page for the school the teacher is in so the school can repost/retweet.

And a quick note calling attention to some suggestions I found for what teachers do not need… anything apple-themed, coffee mugs, and homemade baked items because of food allergies.


For more information and ideas, please visit: