It’s that time of the year. The end of the school year. Let’s talk teacher gifts. We love our teachers! Of course we want to show our appreciation, but what is appropriate? How much should I spend? What do they really want? Fortunately, our team has some great educators and they were more than willing to fill us all in on the DOs and DON’Ts of buying teacher gifts.
- Write personal notes about how your child has loved school or a special project. Teachers became teachers because they want to make a difference. Your child can help write it or draw a picture. This doesn’t even cost money, but is so meaningful to teachers.
- Get gift cards. I know I know, it seems impersonal. But I promise you this is something they will really use. It doesn’t need to be a lot. Redbox and a bag of popcorn. Amazon, Target, even Dollar Tree! Yes, teachers spend way too much of their own money on their classroom.
- Ask if there is something you could get for the classroom instead. Teachers always have a wish list. Sometimes it’s not very glamorous (cough cough tissues), but there is probably something they really want or need for the class that would be more appreciated than anything you could get for them.
- Coordinate as a class when possible. If everyone can chip in $5, you can all get your teacher something they will really need, want, and use.
- Do find out what your teachers favorite things are, and also any allergies they may have. At the beginning of each year, give the teacher a “favorites” inventory. Favorite drink, favorite food, favorite store, favorite color and favorite scent, as well as any allergies to food or drink they may have.
- Do share teacher favorites lists with parents. At James B. Edwards Elementary, the principal asked each teacher and support staff to complete a favorites list. The list is kept in a binder in the front office. Each parent can request a copy for their teacher of choice.
- Do extend recognition to support staff. Think of the teacher assistants, front office assistants, nurse, guidance counselor, and reading interventionists. All of these people are very important and all take time to teach and help children attending the school.
- Show appreciation all year. Teachers have an appreciation week each year, however providing small treats throughout the year are nice gestures that teachers really do appreciate.
- Show teacher appreciation in a variety of ways. Gift cards, candles, school supplies, and coffee make great gifts. Don’t forget about the handwritten cards from your littles, a nice e-mail saying “great work”, and an in-person compliment.
- Get chachkies for their desk. There are only so many #1 teacher things you need. Unless this is a first year teacher (and possibly not even then), it just takes up space. From personal experience, there is no room on the desk anyway!
- Get lotions or candles. These are personal tastes and your personal taste is probably not the same as the teacher, and that’s assuming they even use lotions and candles? Unless you know for certain what scent they like, that they use them, and that they are in need of some, just don’t.
- Get mugs. Yes, not even a my favorite teacher mug. Here’s the thing; either they drink tea and coffee and already have mugs they like, or they don’t and it’s just another chachkie that clutters.
- Get bogged down with how much you spend. It really isn’t about the money. What you’re doing is showing your appreciation. Teachers aren’t here to collect it big during teacher appreciation week. Some favorite gifts include a framed picture of the teacher and student, or a key chain with the class theme. Small gestures, especially coming from a child’s point of view, are the best. It truly is the “thought that counts.”
- Don’t get upset with teachers. Set realistic expectations with thank yous. Some teachers will write thank you notes for each and every gift. Some teachers will not send home a thank you. Please know that each and every gesture is appreciated.
Teachers went into this field to make a difference. Don’t ever underestimate a sincere thank you from your family and child. It’s not about the how much or what. It really is about showing an appreciation for the hard work our teachers do everyday!