Write a Thank You Letter to a Teacher + Examples

Updated

Anyone who says “Teachers have it easy because they get summers off” has never stood in front of more than a dozen students and tried to help them learn. Aside from the fact that the idea of teachers usually getting summers off is essentially a myth, everyone should understand that teaching is one of the most difficult and important professions in the world.

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Odds are good you’ve had a teacher who helped you become a better, or at least smarter, person. Maybe you want to express your feelings by writing a thank you letter to that teacher.

This guide will help. It offers tips and examples to ensure your thank you letter to a teacher makes the right impression.

Why Write a Thank You Letter to a Teacher?

Knowing why you’re writing a thank you letter to a teacher is just as important as writing the actual letter itself. Teachers impact each individual student in various ways. If you clearly define why you feel the urge to write this letter, you’re far more likely to write a strong one.

Potential reasons include:

  • Teachers inspire us to pursue our dreams. They can spark our passions. In some instances, they can even help us cope with personal issues. That said, it’s important to remember that some teachers also help us in very practical ways. For instance, maybe a college professor helped you network in your industry, giving you an early career boost. They deserve credit for that.
  • Teachers eventually retire. You don’t need to wait until a former teacher retires before sending them a thank you letter. Any time is a good time to let an educator know you appreciate them. That’s why thank you letters to teachers make smart teacher retirement gifts. They let teachers know their hard work over the years changed lives.
  • They helped you when you were headed down the wrong path. That’s a good reason to write a thank you letter to a teacher. Most educators want their students to like them. Those who decide that helping their students grow and learn is more important than being liked are no exception. 
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How to Write a Thank You Letter to a Teacher: 4 Steps

Your reason for writing a thank you letter to a teacher will influence your process to some degree. That said, these general steps usually apply:

List specific experiences

Teachers always enjoy receiving thank you notes from former students. It’s unlikely the teacher you’re contacting won’t appreciate receiving a thank you letter. 

That said, they’ll appreciate it even more if it’s specific. Writing a thank you letter for a teacher that tells them they were an “inspiration” or a “great motivator” is a kind gesture. It’s even kinder, though, to include specific memories or details that illustrate precisely how that teacher inspired or motivated you. This shows you took the time to reflect on your experiences in their class before writing the letter. It also shows their influence was so significant that you still remember those specific experiences.

Make a list of these details before writing your letter. When it comes time to actually draft it, decide which makes the most sense to include. Reach out to former classmates if you think they’ll remember such details too.

Assess your skills

We’re not all strong writers. Some people can effectively communicate how they feel through written language. Some can’t. No one is a “bad person” if writing just isn’t one of their talents.

Of course, when writing a thank you letter to a teacher, your goal is to communicate your feelings in words. Be honest with yourself if that’s a task you struggle with.

It’s entirely fine to write a thank you letter for a teacher that says something along the lines of, “You know I was never great with words, but I think these thank you quotes from some of the poets we learned about in your class will let you know why you were one of the best teachers I ever had.”

Write a draft

Sending the first draft is one of the most common mistakes people make when sending any type of thank you letter. Yes, your first draft may be perfect. Regardless, you shouldn’t merely assume. You still need to reread it, and perhaps ask friends and family members to read it as well, before sending it.

A first draft often gives you the chance to get your thoughts and feelings out. You don’t need to know everything you want to say when writing a thank you letter for a teacher, even if you’ve done some planning first. You might still need to pen a first draft that involves writing out everything that comes to mind. Once you’ve done that, you can revisit it, seeing if there are ways to make it more organized or clear.

Choose your medium

The content of your thank you letter to a teacher isn’t the only important aspect of the message. You should also consider how your medium might strike them.

For instance, some teachers are perfectly happy receiving email thank you notes. However, other teachers are happier receiving “snail mail” letters on gorgeous stationery. Think about what your teacher would like before sending the letter. 

Thank You Letter to Teacher Examples

You don’t need to have been a teacher’s student to write a thank you letter for a teacher. Educators also appreciate receiving thank-you notes from parents and colleagues. These examples of thank you letters to a teacher will cover those types of messages. They’ll help you write a strong letter no matter what your relationship with a teacher may be.

Teacher thank you letter from a student

Mr. Norman,

Hi, it’s Tom, from your 2004 history class. It’s no secret we didn’t always get along when I was in your class. By now it’s also no secret you only ever had my best interests at heart. Because of your hard work, I’ve learned that the struggles of the past are present in the future.

None of that would have happened without you. I’m sorry for not understanding you were only trying to help me when I was your student, but I’m not sorry for any of the experiences you gave me.

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Teacher thank you letter from a parent

Dear Mrs. Johnson:

My child has had some good teachers over the years, as well as some bad ones. You were one of the few truly amazing ones.

The changes we saw in Doug throughout the time he was your student are indescribable, and they continue to benefit from your hard work to this day. Thanks for making my job so much easier!

Teacher thank you letter from a colleague

Kelly,

We both know how challenging this career can be. However, being a teacher is easier if you have support from your colleagues. I was lucky enough to get that support from you. Thank you for helping me overcome the difficulties we all face. Enjoy retirement. You’ve earned it!

Thank you letter to a professor

Dear Professor Doherty,

I want to thank you for teaching what was easily my favorite course in college. Your passion for the subject made me far more confident in my choice of career. The fact that you were so responsive when I needed assistance and worked with me during your office hours when you could have been using that time to grade papers or plan lessons is something I will always deeply appreciate. 

Naturally, I also deeply appreciate the way you helped me with networking when I was preparing for graduation. I recently landed a job at a very prestigious firm, and while I’m proud of myself and my accomplishments (thanks, again, to the confidence you instilled in me), I strongly believe your influence played a big role in helping me secure this position. Thank you so much for caring about your students and helping us thrive even after we left your class.

That’s an important point, and it’s one of the reasons I wrote this letter. Before taking your class, I didn’t fully understand just how greatly a professor can impact the course of someone’s life. You made me realize that when a professor takes their job as seriously as you, they can truly help their students achieve their dreams.

Thank you letter to a teacher during COVID

Dear Mrs. Higgins,

Adapting to remote learning last year was tough on me and a lot of the other students. I think that made us forget that it also must have been very difficult for you. Switching to a completely new style of teaching while also coping with all the stresses of the pandemic must have been a challenge.

I just want you to know that while I’m sure that situation was stressful and frustrating for you, it never once seemed as though you took out your frustrations on your students. You were always patient with us as we adjusted to our new learning environment.

You also went the extra mile to ensure your lessons were as thorough and interesting as possible. I’m sure you know even better than I do that a remote learning lesson can be very different from an in-person lesson. I don’t know much about teaching, but I do know it was clear (at least to me) that you made some very intentional changes to the way you taught to make sure everyone was learning the material. Not every teacher would put in that much effort during a scary time, and I’m very thankful that you did.

Thank you letter to a teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week

Dear Mr. Johnson,

Hey! I know it’s been a few years since I was your student, but I randomly saw online that this week is Teacher Appreciation Week.

That got me thinking about the important teachers in my life. I can’t honestly say that I believe every teacher I ever had positively influenced my life, but I can say that the influence of the good teachers far outweighed the influence of the weaker ones in the long run. At least, that’s been my experience.

You were the best teacher I ever had. I don’t think I’m telling you anything you don’t know that the opinion of the student body regarding your teaching methods was split. Some students thought you were too strict and held us to unreasonably high standards.

Others deeply appreciated the way you motivated us to achieve our true potential. Sometimes, being a good teacher must be like being a good coach. The strongest coaches demand the best from the players on their teams because they know their players are capable of great achievements. You held us to such high standards because you had enough respect for us to know we were able to rise to great heights if we applied ourselves. That has impacted my life in far more ways than I can count.

Thank you letter to a teacher for the end of the school year

Dear Mrs. Brandt,

Happy End of the School Year! After dealing with students who weren’t always the most well-behaved group, I bet you’re looking forward to some well-deserved time off.

I’m usually happy when the school year ends. I definitely don’t hate school, but I obviously don’t mind not having to wake up early every morning to head to school when I’d rather sleep in or just enjoy my free time.

I’m still excited about the end of the school year (and yes, I do plan on spending part of the summer working on my novel, like you encouraged me to). Still, I get a little bit sad when I think about the fact that I won’t be your student next year. You worked hard to make your class as fun and interesting as possible while also making sure that we actually learned something from it. Not all teachers are good at making a class both enjoyable and genuinely valuable.

Again, you’ve definitely earned a break after this year. I hope you set aside as much time for yourself as you can. Thanks for a wonderful class and for caring so much about your students’ success!

Thank You Letter to a Teacher: A Simple Yet Exceptional Gesture

If you’re reading this, that’s probably because you already feel the urge to let a teacher know how much you appreciate them via a letter. Hopefully, this guide simply makes the process of writing a strong thank you letter to a teacher a little bit easier.


Source:
  1. Delisle, Deb. “The Heart of It / The Myth of ‘Summers Off’.” ASCD, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, July 2017, ascd.org
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