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No More Mugs, Please! Navigating Teacher Appreciation Week and Prioritizing Well-Being

May 8, 2023 | 2 comments

No More Mugs, Please! Navigating Teacher Appreciation Week and Prioritizing Well-Being


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What's the best—and the worst—thing you've ever received for Teacher Appreciation Week?

Although this celebration provides a unique opportunity to honor the incredible teachers who work, sacrifice and lose sleep over making sure our children get the best education possible, not all teachers feel equally appreciated.

I recently combed the /r/Teachers subreddit and searched for what teachers thought were the best and worst gifts they received for Teacher Appreciation Week and tried to pick out both the most sensible and most outrageous.

Outrageous Gifts

During the COVID lockdown, we were told our appreciation gift would be waiting for us when we returned to school in August. Once August came, I walked into my room to find a plastic coin and a toy whistle with a note that said, “We can really count on you. You blew us away!” The whistle didn’t even work, and what am I supposed to do with a plastic coin?”


A $25 gift card to a chain coffee shop whose nearest location was 108 miles from where I taught.


I got a shirt saying ‘I survived.’ It’s somewhere in my house.


I am deathly allergic to red dye. Seriously, if red dye touches my skin, my skin will blister and peel off my body. This is common knowledge at school. Students can't bring Gatorade or similar drinks into my room, because if it spills I can't clean it up. We did a 'color battle' for a fundraiser and I had to fully leave the entire building. My appreciation gift was a bright pink, strawberry scented, Bath and Body Works set. Body wash and lotion.


I got a bunch of sticks rubber-banded together to remind us ‘we are stronger together.'


Practical Gifts

Our PTA once got all the kids to write in a book about what they love about us. It was my favorite gift! Also catered lunch makes it easier as one less thing to do, especially in a career where we often miss lunch.


Give teachers their time back. Planning, relieve them of a duty for a day, let them leave with the kids (if they choose) for the week, etc.


I love a morning coffee bar with breakfast.


We’ve gotten the ‘gift of time’ before where parents volunteer to come in and give us an hour to plan or whatever. Also an hourlong luncheon at the end of the week; parents also volunteer to sub. They’ve gotten food trucks to come for a day (free food).


The best staff appreciation ever has been food trucks/coffee trucks and full-service catering and dessert bars.


So How Can Share My Lesson Help?

Being a happy, healthy and rested teacher not only benefits you, but also contributes to the overall success of students, schools and communities. And while we wish you could only get the best—and never the worst—appreciation gifts and acknowledgment for the amazing work you do day in and day out, we know that's a tall order.

What we can do: provide free, high-quality resources for prioritizing your mental health and well-being. Self-care is important—and we know all too well—teacher burnout is real. Teacher well-being goes beyond physical health: It encompasses the emotional, mental and social aspects of an educator's life. Research has consistently shown that teachers’ well-being is intrinsically linked to their effectiveness in the classroom. When teachers feel supported, valued and have good mental health, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged and innovative in their teaching practices.

So, what are some ways teachers, administrators and school districts can prioritize mental health, well-being, and self-care?

  • Promote Work-Life Balance: Administrators can be mindful of teachers' personal lives and support flexible working arrangements whenever possible. Teachers should strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance and set reasonable expectations for workloads and avoid an "always-on" mentality. 
  • Access to Mental Health Resources: Districts can ensure that teachers have access to mental health resources, such as employee assistance programs, counseling services or stress-reduction workshops.
  • Cultivate a Supportive School Culture: Foster a positive school culture that values collaboration, shared decision-making and open communication. 

These are just a few ways you can get started, but I’ve also selected five of our most popular and effective well-being webinars and resources for you to consider. Try them out during Teacher Appreciation Week, and you just may find you want to use them the whole year through.

chair yoga

Strengthening Mind and Body: Standing Poses and Chair Yoga

Join Eleanor Harris, a classroom teacher in the Austin (Texas) Independent School District, and a health and fitness professional, for a motivating virtual yoga session.

Access this resource here.
zumba plate

Zumba Plate: Nutrition for Your Body

Join Fort Bend AFT President and Zumba instructor Glenda Macal for an essential nutrition class. Learn the secret to create lasting, life-changing results and how to replace bad habits with healthy ones.

Access this resource here.
meditation and mindfulness

Meditation and Mindfulness Practices for the Busy Mind: Part 1

In a world full of chaos and chronic busyness, it can be difficult to find a state of presence and clarity. Learn about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation that include reduced anxiety, improved focus, reduced blood pressure and pain management.

Access this resource here.
mindfulness for teachers

Seven Ways Mindfulness Can Help Teachers

Teacher training often neglects the social, emotional, and cognitive demands of teaching, but mindfulness skills can help create a relaxed and enlivened classroom. Learn more about mindfulness and teaching through Gratitude Revealed.

Access this resource here.
sel muscles

The 5 Adult SEL Muscles to Make Your Life Easier

SEL is most often referenced in relation to students, but THESE SEL Muscles are for YOU! Lori Woodley, Founder and CEO of All It Takes, will help you develop skills that make your work with students and colleagues easier and provide confidence during your emotional journey.

Access this resource here.


For when you need to work with burned-out, anxious students, try these two resources:

Also, did you know we have a Health and Wellness community? You can check it out here.

Join the Health & Wellness Community

We are bringing fitness instructors, social-emotional and mental health leaders, and nutritionists together so we can collectively “workout” and de-stress our bodies and our minds. 

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Andy Kratochvil
Andy Kratochvil is an SML team member who loves hiking, video games, scary books, Mexican food, and finding great content for the Share My Lesson community. He studied political science and French at California State University, Fullerton and received his Master’s in International Affairs from... See More

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Juliet Marinelli
Juliet Marinelli May 9, 2023, 1:40 pm

Best Teacher Appreciation Gift EVER: My school arranged for a Spring retreat at an idyllic hotel & resort for the weekend. Though we had to work, obviously, we were paid for that work, AND the food was fantastic! We were able to stay over at the hotel for two nights. Talk about a "Thank You"!!!!!!

Andy Kratochvil
Andy Kratochvil May 9, 2023, 1:46 pm

Juliet, I love this!! I hope you have a trip/break planned for yourself this year!