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#tipTuesday - Teacher Gifts

I was recently asked about my thoughts on teacher gifts. Someone wanted a teacher’s point of view. Since I’m not in the classroom this year, it’s easy for me to answer as I am not the one receiving the gifts. Today’s #tipTuesday is filled with my thoughts on teacher gifts.

I want to start by saying teacher gifts are not mandatory nor should they be expected by an educator. However, they are certainly appreciated. And the sentiment, “It’s the thought that counts,” really does ring true here. In my early years, I taught at a Title I school. Those years, I was fresh out of college, single, and making a teacher’s salary with no other income. I didn’t have a lot between paychecks. Yet, I had more than some of the families I taught. In fact, I purchased back packs and shoes for a few of my students. So in no way should these families have spent money on me for a holiday gift. However, they did. Almost all of the gifts came from the dollar store, and they were wonderful! For years, I set up a Christmas angel in my kitchen that lit up with microfibers, one of these precious students in my early years had given it to me. I know it came from the dollar store, but it was cherished by me. It was special because of the student who gave it to me. It makes me smile, even to this day. Over the years, the angel broke and was no longer able to be set out. But truly, it was so special. I have ornaments on my tree from prior students. All of these things really are exceptional and bring me joy.

That said, if you have the means to buy a teacher a gift further than the dollar store, and you really want to know what he or she would like, let me help stop the search. Gift cards, he/she wants gift cards! Yes, this cute personalized notepaper is fun.

​...But a gift card is always best. Now, if you’ve already ordered the notepaper, go for it! If you aren’t sure what to do, go with a gift card!

With a gift card, no amount is too small. Think about if a middle school teacher has 150 to 200 students and everyone gave a $5 or $10 gift card, that would add up. Of course, not everyone is going to give. So you give what you can and feel good about that. And yes, I believe you should be showing appreciation to your child's teachers even outside of the elementary setting.

But TravelLady, my middle school boy or my high school girl does not want to take a gift to the teacher for fear of being made fun of or looking like a suck up. I get it! I would say middle schoolers and high schoolers shouldn’t be taking gifts into school for their teachers, you should! As the parent, drop the gifts off at the front office, wrapped and labeled well, and ask the front office to either deliver them to the teachers or place them in their mailboxes.

As I said, gifts are not expected. Teachers like to feel appreciated. Heck, doesn’t everyone? In Gerry Brooks’ book, Go See the Principal (which is a hilarious read for parents and teachers - as a side note this book would be a great gift for people this season), he talks about gifting teachers and says, “Here’s the bottom line: teachers like being appreciated, no matter the gift. Even if it’s just a candy bar, it’s the effort behind the gift that matters. But while gifts are a nice surprise, parents shouldn’t feel obligated, especially if it’s a financial burden.”

Some great suggestions if you are wanting to appreciate your teacher this season or anytime throughout the school year:

* Gift cards

* Donation in their name

* A letter of appreciation

* Or a day off from emailing them…LOL…parents, you know who you are and what a gift this would be to that teacher…bah, ha, ha!

Remember, it doesn't have to cost much or even cost anything. Appreciate your child's teacher(s) the way it is right for your family. I can tell you that more often than not, your child's teacher is doing the best he/she can. Celebrate them when it's possible!

EDITED TO ADD: After my post yesterday, a friend reminded me of this wreath that we used to make when we were room parents in the elementary classroom. We asked each family to send in a gift card in any amount to any location along with a wallet size photo of their child. Then we attached the photo to the gift card and attached the gift cards to a wreath. Every teacher was crazy about this gift! (Sorry for the poor quality of the photo -- but you get the idea.)

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