How to Write a Thank-You Note to a Teacher That Will Mean So Much

A well-crafted, heartfelt thank-you note to a teacher can become something they treasure for years

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Teachers are everyday superheroes, often going above and beyond the basic job requirements to ensure that their students not only get a quality education but also feel heard, loved and supported. (Many teachers even spend their own money to buy snacks, clothing or school supplies for kids.) Teachers change lives, and we are so grateful! One of the best ways to share your gratitude is to write a thank-you note to a teacher.

Thank-you notes can make all the difference,” says Laura Myers, a middle-school teacher in Smithfield, Utah. “I keep them in my classroom and I pull them out on hard days and read them, to remind myself why I’m there and why I stay in what is becoming a harder and harder job.” Whether you’re a current or former student, or the parent of a student, it means the world to a teacher when you let them know what a difference they’ve made. That’s the reason many of them went into teaching in the first place!

And writing a thank-you note isn’t just about good manners or following etiquette rules. “Ultimately, thank-you notes are about strengthening relationships,” says etiquette expert Kelly Browne, author of 101 Ways to Say Thank You. “Whether handwritten or delivered digitally, a well-crafted thank-you note will make the teacher feel appreciated and make you feel happier—it’s a win-win situation.”

Here’s how to thank teachers the right way, with some tips and examples on how to write a thank-you note. Looking to pair your thank-you with a small gift? Check out our roundup of the best teacher gifts they’ll actually love and use.

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When should you write a thank-you note to a teacher?

There’s no wrong time to write a thank-you card, but it’s customary to write a note around the holidays, at the end of the year, when they retire or during Teacher Appreciation Week. (Mark your calendars: This year, it’s Monday, May 8, through Friday, May 12, 2023.) You may also want to express your gratitude to a teacher who has gone above and beyond to help your child or you—or reach out to one of your teachers from way back when. Trust us: They’d love to hear from you!

What is the best message for teachers?

“Acknowledgments of kindness, compassion and respect are key when writing a thank-you card to an educator,” says Browne. Teachers love to hear three things in a thank-you card:

  • An expression of gratitude
  • What you’re grateful for
  • How they made you feel or helped your life

Bonus: Include a note, picture or thought from your child, says Browne.

Myers also loves this take on the traditional note: “I love the handwritten notes where the kids get to write what they really think,” Myers says. “A recent favorite was a holiday card that said, ‘Thanks for being my teacher and forgetting to give us homework last week because I have things I like to do better, and oh yeah, Merry Christmas,'” she says. “That one made my whole day because it was so honest.”

How to write a thank-you note to a teacher

Teacher Thank You CardCourtesy Laura Myers

All thank-you notes are appreciated, but if you really want to make a teacher feel special, here are some ways to take your thank-you card to the next level.

Handwrite the card

Myers isn’t the only teacher who likes to keep a file with sweet notes handy for tough days. Sure, a teacher can save an email, but seeing the card you or your child chose and any pictures they drew adds so much more feeling. Keep a stack of cute thank-you cards in your car so you can write one as soon as you think of the reason.

Or email your thanks

While a handwritten card is the gold standard, these days technology offers us lots of ways to say thank you. Sending a quick email or text will also make a teacher’s day, says Browne. Sharing your gratitude is always more important than the method you use to share it, so don’t get tripped up by old-fashioned etiquette rules.

Make it specific

Teachers like knowing that you’re grateful, but they love knowing exactly what they did that made a difference. “I really appreciate notes from parents who take a minute to mention something specific that made them or their child’s experience with me a good one,” says Myers. “Even if it’s just something simple like, ‘Kenzi loved how you would tell funny stories about your kids. Thanks for making her laugh!’ That’s great too.”

You may also find inspiration for what to write from these teacher quotes.

Skip the “but”

Sometimes parents are tempted to include a gripe along with their praise, but this is not the time or place. Here’s an example of what not to say: “Thanks so much for your help with Brecken’s project, but next time it would be better if he had more time.” It’s fine to share your feedback with the teacher, of course, but a thank-you card should just focus on the positives and your gratitude.

Add something from your child

While teacher thank-you notes from parents are always appreciated, teachers love it even more when your child writes (or draws) something too. If the card is personal—for instance, you’re sharing your gratitude for the teacher’s help dealing with a sensitive family situation—have your child write it on a separate piece of paper and tuck it into your card. This is also the perfect way to teach children how to perform small acts of kindness.

Let administration know too

“If a parent really wants to show their gratitude, it’s even better when they copy the thank-you note and tell our administrators what they like about us,” says Myers. “Administrators spend so much time dealing with problems, the positive things really stick out in their minds.”

Read on to find out exactly what you should write in a thank-you note to a teacher.

Sweet thank-you cards for teachers

Thank-you note to a teacher who went above and beyond for your child

Did a teacher spend a lot of extra time and energy to help you or your child? Provide unconditional support? Get them on the right track with their studies? Advocate for your child when no one else would? This type of thank-you note should acknowledge their extra work and express that it matters, says Browne. Be sure to note their additional work and sacrifices.

Examples of thank-you notes to teachers

  • “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for staying after school every Wednesday to help Jane with her math. She’s totally caught up now, thanks to you!”

  • “Thank you so much for arranging that after-school field trip to the space museum! I know that was a lot of extra time for you, but it meant so much to Jacob. He wants to be an astronaut and study astronomy now.”

  • “Your social studies unit on current events has really changed how Lyla thinks about things and has made for some great dinner discussions. I so appreciate all the extra thought and preparation you put into your lessons.”

Thank-you note to a teacher who helped in a difficult situation

Teachers are often called on to be first responders to a variety of crises in a child’s life. It’s tough, but it’s one of the reasons why teachers love their job. From helping a student deal with their first period, to finding social services for refugee families, to calling authorities about suspected abuse, a teacher’s job can feel very emotional, says Myers. Let the teacher know what a difference he or she made in your child and family’s life. You can preserve your family’s privacy—no need to get into all the traumatic details of the situation—while still sharing how meaningful his or her service was, adds Browne.

Examples of thank-you notes to teachers

  • “I will be forever grateful for all the help you gave us making sure that Madison had the right supplies she needed to succeed this year. You have been such a bright spot during a dark time for our family.”

  • “Leo will always remember this year as the year his parents got divorced, but he’ll also always remember this year as the year his teacher spent nearly every recess listening to him talk. Thank you so much for being that person for him and for helping us connect with a therapist.”

  • “Thank you so much for being so vigilant and noticing when Clarissa was being bullied. We had no idea what was wrong, and you stepped in at just the right moment. I know it can’t have been easy for you, but Clarissa is a happier, stronger and more compassionate child because of your example.”

Thank-you note to a teacher at the end of the year

The end of the school year is the perfect time for a big thank-you. Sum up your child’s experience, including things they learned or did that they will always remember, while also congratulating the teacher for 10 months of dedicated, hard work.

Examples of thank-you notes to teachers

  • “You are the best! We are so grateful that Teddy had you as his teacher for fourth grade. It was such a big year for him, and he learned so much. He discovered a new love for lesser-known animals after your unit on bats.”

  • “Thank you so much for all your hard work with Jordan this year! We know he started out a little behind, but thanks to you, he feels ready and excited for sixth grade and moving on to middle school.”

  • “You’ve been one of June’s favorite teachers ever! She loved reading time and the stories you picked and how you made them feel real. She also loved your crafting station! Thanks for all you do for our kids!”

  • “It’s been a privilege having Marcus in your class this year! Thanks for being such a great teacher! We hope you enjoy your summer break, and we’ll see you next year.”

If it’s appropriate, you may also want to add retirement wishes or congratulations wishes.

Thank-you note to a teacher for Teacher Appreciation Week

Cute Girl Drawing in Art ClassSeventyFour/Getty Images

Teachers get a whole week of gratitude, and it is well deserved. Check with your school’s parent organization or your child’s class parent about the different ways to show your gratitude this week. They’re often coordinated around a scheduled theme. For example, one day you might be asked to give a card, and on another, you might send in the teacher’s favorite flower or something your child made.

Examples of thank-you notes to teachers

  • “Dear [Teacher], I hope you enjoy this pink rose—I heard they are your favorite! You deserve all the flowers. Thanks a bunch for everything you do for our second graders!”

  • “Thanks so much for ‘treating’ Amara every day with new lessons and activities. We hope you enjoy this special treat she picked out for you!”

  • “Three things Pilar loves about your class: 1) how funny you are, 2) how you let them eat lunch with you if they want and 3) the class bunny. Thanks so much for making every day special and fun for our kiddos!”

Thank-you note to a teacher who changed your life

Many of us have teachers we still think fondly about, years or even decades after leaving their class. “It’s never too late to reach out to someone and let them know what you remember about them and how they continue to have a lasting impact on your life,” says Browne.

Examples of thank-you notes to teachers

  • “Dear Mr. T, I had you for fifth grade at Wilson Elementary. I just wanted to let you know that even though it’s been years since I’ve seen you, I still remember how you taught me to read and understand poetry. Reading and writing poems is one of my favorite things to do now, and every time I do, I think of you. Thanks for giving me such a beautiful gift.”

  • “Hey, Ms. A, this may seem out of the blue, but the other day I was sharing with my kids some of my favorite memories of school, including my favorite teacher—you! I never told you then, but 8th grade was one of the hardest years of my life, and knowing that I would see you every day made all the difference. Remember the time we did a beach picnic in the gym in January? Thanks for all the times you made me laugh and for teaching me to see the positive.”

  • “Dear Mrs. S, you’ve been on my mind lately, and I just wanted to let you know what a difference you made in my life. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life at the start of my senior year of high school, but after taking your business class, I was inspired to go to college and become an entrepreneur. Thank you for taking the time to share your passion with me!”

Mistakes to avoid when writing a thank-you note to a teacher

“The biggest mistake you can make writing a thank-you card is not writing it,” says Browne. “Too many people will make a mental note of their gratitude and then forget to express it to the other person.” Other than that, here are a few common mistakes people make when writing a thank-you note to a teacher.

  • Don’t be overly simple or general. Simply saying “thanks” is nice, but on its own, it isn’t meaningful. That said, short thank-you notes to teachers are completely fine!
  • Don’t lie. Some parents may feel pressure to say their child loved something when they didn’t. Find something you’re truly grateful for and write about that rather than making something up.
  • Don’t use a crude card. Jokes and puns are funny, but make sure they’re appropriate.
  • Don’t skip talking to your child. Their experience will shape what you write, and they should be a part of the process.
  • Don’t criticize. This isn’t the time to vent or critique the teacher’s skills or share ways you think they can improve.
  • Don’t compare. It’s fine to say that this teacher is one of your child’s favorites. It’s not OK to say, “Simon liked you so much more than Mr. P!”
  • Don’t worry too much about grammar and spelling. The message of your card is the most important thing. Remember: The teacher isn’t grading you!

Write a thank-you card to a teacher today

“One of my favorite notes, which I still think about a lot, was from one of my third graders years ago. He wrote, ‘You have a great energetic voice for reading us stories!'” says Myers. “English is my favorite subject, and there’s nothing I’m more passionate about than inspiring a love for reading, so it meant everything to me that he felt that.”

You don’t need to wait for an occasion. If anything in this article sparked an idea for something you are grateful for, grab a card and write that note! Even if you think it’s something small or it was something that happened years ago, it will be meaningful to that teacher—and our teachers deserve all our gratitude.


Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.