We all have those one or two high school teachers who we really connect with and who are invested in our success. (By the way, if you need any letters of recommendation for applying to college, these are the high school teachers you should go to.)
High school is a very long period of time spent with the same people every day, and it is easy to think that once you graduate you’ll never go back, and never need to. However, treating relationships like this, especially with people who can potentially help you in the future, will not get you very far.
Here are a few simple ways you can express your gratitude through action:
Lend a hand
One of the best ways to show gratitude and return the favor to your favorite high school teachers is by asking what you can do to make their lives easier. Ask if you can spend some free periods in their classroom either helping out with grading or just hanging out. This is a great way to build a relationship with this teacher that you can carry on for years. It also shows that you are interested in more than just a good grade in their class, which makes them more willing to go the extra mile for you.
Keep in touch
Teachers that help you now will be more willing to help you in the future if you stay on their radar. As you start college, especially your first semester, you will want to apply for positions (such as student government, orientation leaders, etc.) that require good letters of recommendation, and you won’t have had enough time to build relationships with your college professors yet.
It’s also important for high school teachers to know the time they invested in you continues to pay off. This shows them that their time has not gone wasted or unappreciated. Every few months or so, send them an email asking them how they are doing, and telling them your accomplishments and major life events. This shows that you care about them as individuals beyond the classroom (not just as stepping stones to get you to where you need to be).
Pay it forward
Showing gratitude will not only benefit you throughout your career, but it can also boost the careers of your favorite high school teachers as well. Beyond helping out behind the scenes, offer to post a review of your teacher or their class on social media for incoming students—kind of like letters of recommendation in reverse. You can also give your favorite high school teachers favorable ratings on sites like Rate My Teachers. These small efforts can bring about great rewards for you, your teachers, and future students.