How to Appreciate the Spanish Teacher in Your Life

April 16, 2019 Sra. Shaw

Survey: Do you think that whomever thought up Teacher Appreciation Week intentionally put it at the point in the year when we’re all hanging on by a thread? I do and it was a pretty genius idea because the timing is perfect.  Every year, Teacher Appreciation Week rolls around just when I’m feeling most overwhelmed and under-appreciated. 

Some days I come home pumped about an awesome lesson I just had, but sometimes I come home to my husband and bemoan how difficult of a profession I’ve chosen. Some days, I call up my friends, who can’t believe some of the stories I tell them about the crazy things that go on at my school.  I know the people who love me best respect what I do, but maybe they need some reminders of exactly what makes World Language teachers tick. Note: Feel free to share this post with a subtle hint about how the people in your life can best show their appreciation for your contribution to society.

Here are 10 ways you can show your appreciation to your favorite Spanish teacher:

1. Watch Spanish language movies and tv shows with us…

Even if that means that you have to read the subtitles.  Learning and maintaining a language is a lot of hard work and it takes time to keep up those skills.  Honestly, some of us are stuck speaking in the present tense pretty much all of the time.  We need exposure to more complex language and opportunities to experience other cultures via Netflix.  Sure, we could sit and watch them alone, but we’d much rather share the experience with you even if it’s not really your thing.  If you don’t feel like watching Roma, let’s, at the very least catch some reruns of Jane the Virgin.

For ideas on what to watch, check out Elisabeth’s (AKA Spanish Mama’s) post about the 2019 Top Spanish Language Shows on Netflix. I plan to start Gran Hotel.

2. Go out to eat with us

This one won’t take a lot of convincing.  Renowned chef, Julia Child, once said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” If that’s true, World Language teachers must then indeed be some of the best people on the planet because we’re always down to eat Mexican, Cuban, Spanish, or, let’s be honest, any Latin American foods with you.  Plus, it can be considered professional development, right? We’d probably love it if you researched a new place we haven’t visited yet too! Recently, my husband found an article about a Guatemalan-owned bakery not far from our house and he surprised me by taking me there. It was such a sweet gesture and I loved teaching him some new words and trying some new yummy treats together.

On a realistic level, pretty much all of us have a food unit and it only seems fitting that if we are to teach our students about food from all over the Spanish-speaking world, we should probably be experts in the field based on the first-hand experience of eating it. So please scout out the best Latino or Hispanic restaurants, bakeries, etc. and let’s go!

3. Encourage our Target Dollar Spot spending habits

Whoever thought of the Target Dollar Spot is an evil genius.  How do they ALWAYS know what we want to buy before I even know it ourselves? Wizardry, I tell you. As soon as we walk through those automatic double doors, the Dollar Spot sucks us in like some kind of black hole. This is never more true than when they have stuff for our classrooms, especially when it is something related to Hispanic culture.

Every year around Día de los Muertos or even Cinco de Mayo (or, let’s be honest, all the time) I stalk out the Target Dollar Spot to see what amazing goodies they will have! Last fall, my friend and shopping partner watched in mystified horror as I jumped up and down with all of the amazing Día de los Muertos items I had discovered. Calavera tatoos for my prize bin? Absolutely. A La Catrina veil headband? Of course I need that.  Light up papel picado banner (shown below) that will make the most amazing bulletin board border? Obviously.

And, as everyone knows, the best stuff flies off the shelf, so if you happen to see something awesome that I need for my Spanish classroom, feel free to pick it up for us! Whatever novel goodies you find will make our day!

4. Surprise us with unexpected cultural gifts

When you inevitably see an item that makes you think of us, feel free to surprise us! It makes our day when our colleagues, family, friends, and students see at item that makes them think of us!

It made my day when my friend, Erin, found an amazing calavera infinity scarf that she said she just had to get for me.  My amazing department head and French teacher friend, Marci, found a llama that repeats everything I say and said even though it was stupid expensive, she knew I just had to have it. She was right. I LOVE saying things to that llama, having it repeat what I say, laughing, and then listening as it repeats my laugh, and laughing some more. See video below for a comical illustration.

So, when you see that “Hola, Bonita” mug or that adorably on-trend cactus notebook, don’t hold back. We’ll appreciate it; we promise.

5. Help us caffeinate

Teaching is synonymous with caffeine consumption, I’m pretty sure. How are we supposed to survive seeing 100+ students per day without our cup of joe?! It’s shocking how excited we get when a friend surprises us with a latte or a $5 Starbucks gift card.  We will love you forever. We’ll probably love you forever regardless, but we’ll certainly appreciate the gesture! 

Actually, one of my Spanish teacher amiga’s husbands bought her a monthly fair trade coffee subscription for Christmas. What a great gift idea, right?  I totally count sampling fair trade coffees from all over Central and South America as research that should count for professional development hours. Unfortunately, my district doesn’t agree, but that’s O.K because we’re better humans when we’ve had a good cup of coffee. Hint: This also goes for chocolate.

6. Drink sangria with us…

Or margaritas. Or vino. Or cervezas. Take your pick.

I can’t speak for all Spanish teachers, but as soon as I take a sip of sangria, it takes me back to my semester studying abroad in Spain and it’s good for my soul.  Similarly, one of my favorite things about Spring is that our department always goes to a local joint known for their sangria and beautiful outdoor seating.

Again, I
would hope this wouldn’t take too much convincing and we teachers aren’t
super picky after a long day, so pick a place.  Wouldn’t it be so fun
to catch up over a delicious beverage?!  What are we waiting for?!

7. Let us blast Shakira, Carlos Vives, etc.  

Maybe you won’t be able to sing along perfectly, but you can definitely try and we will appreciate you for it.  There’s just something about Latin music; it makes us happy and its speaks to our soul. Also, it helps us with our language skills (see #1). 

Latin Music is the gift that just keeps giving because it puts everyone in a good mood.  In case you need convincing, here’s an article perfectly explaining why everyone should listen to Latin music.  My husband recently came across the Pitbull Globalization Sirius XM station and he loves listening to it, even when I’m not in the car. He says it’s kind of addicting. I couldn’t agree more.


8. Plan an international trip with us

This one obviously requires a more significant financial investment, so let’s start saving! With the variety of Spanish-speaking countries to visit, the possibilities are endless. If you want to be adventurous, we could hit the cloud forests in Costa Rica or conquer Machu Picchu in Peru. If you want to relax, let’s scuba dive off the Coast of Colombia or chill on a beautiful pretty much anywhere in Latin America. If you want to see some amazing cultural sights, let’s head to Barcelona or visit La Boca in Buenos Aires. I could go on and on with places to visit.

For a Spanish teacher, connecting with people, language, and culture while traveling is the absolute best thing on earth and we’d love to experience it with you.

9. Help us set up our classroom and make things for our classes

Despite the
fact that we’re surrounded by children all day, teaching is a lonely
profession. This is particularly true when we get our classrooms ready
before school starts every year. The students haven’t arrived yet and
it’s oddly quiet.  One summer my mom joined me as I set up my classroom
and we had so much fun blasting music and cutting out posters. She says
it was one of the best mother-daughter bonding experiences we’ve had in
recent years.  

Being the best teacher we can be and having the most inviting classroom is a lot of work. We’d love to have you help us set up our classrooms before school starts. You don’t have to have any special skills! Just the ability to cut, staple, and make us laugh as we do our thing!

If you want to see how fancy Spanish classrooms have gotten, every year I look forward to Elisabeth’s annual Spanish Mama blog post of classroom tours. I always feel so inspired looking through all of the pictures.  

10. Be a listener

The thing no one realizes about teaching is that it’s lonely and we have no actual adults to talk to most of the time. We don’t have time to tell our work friends about things with the 5 minutes between classes and, besides, they’re bias listeners. I’ve found that people have no idea how hard or frustrating teaching is unless they’ve done it (and recently because things have changed). Please be

Please, be the person we can call and tell all about our absolutely unbelievable day, be it good or bad.  It’ll be aweseome because you don’t need to give advice or anything because there likely aren’t solutions to any of our issues.  We just need to be heard. You probably do too! We’d love to hear about your life! I personally am fascinated when my friends tell me about their office jobs because it’s so different from what I experience.


At this busy and stressful time of year, I hope you are appreciated! We assume that our loved ones know all of this already and that it’s all common sense, but I have proof that’s just not true. Don’t believe me? While drafting this post, I read just the first two bullets of this post to my husband, who was stunned. Mouth agape, his exact words to me were, “I’ve been married to you for 10 years and you waited a decade to tell me you want me to watch Spanish movies with you? We can watch our shows on Netflix in Spanish, it’s all the same to me!” Husbands. Sigh. 🙂

So, share this post with your friends, family, significant others, colleagues, etc. and get ready to bask in the appreciation! Plus, we here at Secondary Spanish Space also want to show our appreciation for all that you do, so keep an eye on our blog posts, Facebook and Instagram for information about how to win our upcoming Teacher Appreciation Week giveaway. 

Need some more ideas? Check out this post from La Profe Plotts with 14 Fabulous Gifts for Fabulous Spanish Teachers!

    Sra. Shaw

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