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Teacher Gifts – Like Gifts for People

Jon Whittle

I was volunteering in Magoo’s class last week and I found myself staring at his teacher, lost in thought at how difficult her job really is.  She’s trying to teach an entire classroom full of first graders how to read, write, do math, behave themselves, stop crashing their desks to the floor in frustration, and a myriad of other things. They’re all different and somewhat crazy and she has to reach each one of them. I am grateful for all she does and at this holiday season, I want to do something nice for her, give her a small gift to tell her that we appreciate all of her care and effort.

Regardless of what holiday you celebrate, this is the time of year that most of us give gifts to the important people in our lives.  Teachers are right up at the top of my list and I often hear talk about what would make a good “teacher present.” Immediately my mind is drawn to apple-shaped paper weights and framed pictures of precious students decorated with pencils and pictures of school buses. I’m sure you could fill the Grand Canyon with all the kitchy school-themed gifts teachers receive each year.

My thought is this – when you’re shopping for your teacher this holiday season, think about getting her something you’d get for a friend. Maybe she is your friend. Maybe not. But she’s a person. Think about what she’d actually like.

I find that the best gifts are either things you know the person would like but would not buy for herself or things you know the person would like but might not know exist. The key here is to think about the person and what she likes.

At my son’s school, the PTA has teachers fill out a survey at the beginning year that asks questions about their favorite treats, restaurants, colors, places to shop, etc. These lists are then made available to parents who want to give the teachers something they actually want or could use. This could be something as simple as a $5 Starbucks gift card or as elaborate as getting the entire class to pitch in and buy her a scarf or handbag you know she wants but would never splurge on.

I know the economy is not great and you may not have money to spend. Consider writing a letter that sincerely expresses specific things you appreciate about the teacher. If you craft, make her something she’ll use.

Many teachers would love additional school supplies to use in the classroom or to give to students they may know have a need. Keep an eye out for things she could use when you’re volunteering in the classroom or ask your teacher what would be most helpful to her.

Be thoughtful and remember that just because she’s a teacher, doesn’t mean you have to get her a “teacher present.”

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.