National Teacher Day

National Teacher Day - Sunday, May 5, 2024

Special Interest Careers Civic education

National Teacher Day is observed on the first Tuesday of the first full week of May (May 5) and we’re more than ready to show our appreciation to those who have taught us. Everyone has had that favorite teacher that has helped inspire them. This day meant to honor them was actually made by a teacher. None other than First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt herself. Eleanor Roosevelt was more than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wife, she has a history of civic duty and was an advocate for fellow teachers. Her love for education began at a young age when she was privately tutored and encouraged by her aunt Anna “Barnie” Roosevelt. No matter how high she rose on the social ladder, she never forgot where she came from.

History of National Teacher Day

In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt stood up to Congress in hopes of convincing them that teachers needed a day to be recognized for all that they do. Until that point, the celebration of the day wasn’t clear. It’s believed that some schools in certain states were already observing the day, but there wasn’t a clear consensus and she wanted to make it official. 

The National Education Association (NEA) in partnership with the Kansas State and Indiana State Boards of Education, lobbied Congress in order for the day to be recognized. Despite her best efforts, the first National Teacher Day didn’t become an official national day until 1980. 

At its inception, National Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7 until 1984 when it was moved to May. Thanks to the assistance of the National PTA, it evolved into Teacher Appreciation Week, giving teachers more time to bask in appreciation. A year later, the NEA  established that the first Tuesday of the week would be National Teacher Appreciation Day.

Today, the official national day celebrates teachers by gift-giving and the showering of accolades from students and parents alike. The hashtags #TeacherAppreciationDay and #NationalTeachersDay are used on social media to show teachers making a difference to the world at large.

National Teacher Day timeline


Teacher in the 21st century

Social Media is used to recognize educators on a global scale.


It must be Tuesday

The NEA makes the first Tuesday of May National Teacher Day.


From March to May

National Teacher Day is moved from March 7 to the first Tuesday of May, therefore creating National Teacher Appreciation Week.


Education boards assemble

The National Education Association teams up with the Kansas State and Indiana State Boards of Education lobbies Congress to make National Teacher Day an official national holiday.


Eleanor vs. Congress

Eleanor Roosevelt takes the idea of National Teacher Day to Congress.

National Teacher Day FAQs

Is National Teacher Day celebrated all over the world?

Many countries celebrate World Teachers Day on October 5.

Is National Teachers Day celebrated with a festival?

It varies by school and state, but there is nothing official. Some schools have picnics and others throw parties.

Why does it have to be on the first Tuesday of a full week?

It’s also Teacher Appreciation Week to give them all five days of the schooling week to feel appreciated.

Five Surprising Facts About National Teacher Day

  1. Dancing with the First Lady

    At the beginning of her career, Eleanor Roosevelt was a teacher of dance and calisthenics.

  2. Numbers game

    There are over 3 million K-12 teachers in the US  and over 55 million students.

  3. Going rogue

    Massachusetts celebrates their teachers on the first Sunday of June, possibly to enjoy the break away from work.

  4. Growth potential

    Pre K-12 teachers form the largest occupational group in the US.

  5. The most famous teacher

    Anne Sullivan is considered by many as the most famous teacher for her work in helping Helen Keller, a blind, deaf, and mute girl, learn how to communicate with the world.

National Teacher Day Activities

  1. Make It Personal

    There are only so many apples a teacher can consume, why not make it personal? Write a letter to your favorite teacher, properly expressing what they mean to you. Be sure to detail specific examples, letting them know that you’ve noticed them. It’s sure to warm their hearts once they realize how much of an impact they’ve made.

  2. Offer Your Assistance

    A teachers’ workload can be heavy. Long hours at school and after school on top of having to account for all of their students in their classes can be taxing. Offering your assistance can help lessen the load they carry. Perhaps they need their room cleaned or they could use help grading papers. These small acts stack up and make a huge difference.

  3. Instagram It

    With their permission, post them on your social media account and express just what makes them stand out. We all need inspiration sometimes, even those whose job it is to inspire. By recognizing them on a grander stage, you can uplift their spirits and inspire other students to think about the teachers in their lives that have influenced them.

Why We Love National Teacher Day

  1. We see you

    Teachers take on so much and ask for so little. Their job is one of the most important in the world, shaping young minds and teaching them important lessons. In order for them to do their job effectively, it’s only right to encourage them so that we have a brighter tomorrow.

  2. They stay with you

    If you ask any famous athlete or singer who their favorite teacher is, it’s likely that they already have them in mind. Life is hard and it’s easy to doubt yourself, but our favorite educators know just when to lift us up and remind us of our potential. They see our greatness before we do and that deserves respect.

  3. Knowledge is power

    Our greatest tool is knowledge and teachers are the purveyors of it. Teaching is an age-old profession. Everyone from Albert Einstein to Aristotle were educators that have affected the world on a scale that’s immeasurable. There’s a need to keep this legacy of continued knowledge going so that we may learn and grow from it.

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