Teacher Appreciation Week is celebrated in the first full week of May, from May 3 through May 7 in 2021, and is when teachers get the extra credit they deserve. The big day is Teacher Appreciation Day on May 5, but teachers are just so great that they get a whole week to savor our appreciation. Whether you have a teacher, know a teacher, or are a teacher, there are endless ways to give a little extra support to teachers and teachers organizations. Teaching is known to be a time-consuming and challenging profession, so this week is our chance to say thank you to those that play or have played such a huge role in our lives. Who doesn’t have a fond memory of a teacher who inspired us in some way?
Teaching is one of the oldest professions – in 561BC, the first private teacher in history was one of the most learned men of all time, Confucius. In Ancient Greece, there was huge value placed on educating children, and in the 1600s the Pilgrims also placed a similar emphasis on the practice.
By the 19th century, politicians began to believe that education was needed for political order, and elementary through college education was widespread and public, and the need for teachers has been growing ever since!
Though the origins of Teacher Appreciation Week are somewhat murky, it’s clear that it was in 1944 that an Arkansas school teacher, Mattye White Woodridge, wrote to politicians and educational professionals about the demand for a day to appreciate teachers. However, it wasn’t for nearly a decade until the idea was introduced to Congress by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1953, she was successful in convincing lawmakers to adopt the day.
After the National Education Association (NEA) and Kansas and Indiana state affiliates lobbied Congress again to create National Teacher Day on March 7, 1980, they continued to observe it yearly even though Congress did not. They did this until 1985 when the Assembly transformed the single day into the first full week of May.
Teacher Appreciation Day is described by the NEA, which spearheads the weeklong event, as “a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.” Each year they provide social media kits, printable teacher achievement certificates, contests, and gift suggestions to help teachers feel all the appreciation we have for them.