The school break is in reach. If I stand on my tip-toes, I can just feel the edge of it, and so can the kids in my classroom!
I know that with the holidays approaching, many of you consider getting your kids’ teachers gifts.
Here’s my opinion—don’t bother!
Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate the kind sentiments that come along with a gift. I have kept many thoughtfully written cards from both my students and their parents. My favourite “gift” that I ever received was from a young student who spent a good hour drawing and colouring a picture. She put in the effort to colour every square inch of background. The foreground showed a careful drawn dog, proudly sitting on a well-manicured lawn. The sun was shining, there were butterflies in the air, and flowers in the garden. At the top in careful printing, my student had written G is for dog. See how much I taught her? I kept that delightful piece of work on my fridge for many years.
I treasure the cards and drawings, but I really don’t need a gift. When I was a student, my parents were not of the ilk that bought teacher gifts. Every year, our teachers would sit the kids in a circle and we’d watch as the teacher oohed and aahed over each present they opened. And I’d sit cross legged, playing with the fibres in the carpet, feeling like an inconsiderate cad because there was no gift from me.
Now I’m all grown up and a teacher myself, I have to say I agree with my parents. I teach because I love it. The best gift you can give me is that you trust me to help grow your child’s precious mind. I know that sounds cheesy, but I really believe it. Oh yeah, and of course, I do actually get paid for teaching too. Yes, I work many hours beyond my scheduled ones and I do spend my own money on some books and supplies for the classroom, but I’m sure many people in many professions go above and beyond their job description. I do it because I truly enjoy what I do.
I wouldn’t buy gifts for my grocer or my eye doctor. My child doesn’t give gifts to her pediatrician, who is definitely a vital part of her upbringing. People do jobs and perform services. They are rewarded through pay and job satisfaction. Sure, it’s definitely nice to hear that people appreciate the effort I put into teaching. I like knowing others feel I’m doing a good job, but I don’t need a gift to get that message across.
Also, teacher gifts have gone a bit far. I was just chatting about this to a teacher friend and she said one year the parents of her students collected and gave her a handful of cash. Awkward! I guess we could view it as a tip, but teaching really doesn’t strike me as a tip-dependent career. The educational assistant in my classroom just celebrated a birthday and received a large bottle of alcohol, complete with a fancy glass and a card containing a ten dollar bill. Seriously, that’s weird!
I just read a post about who to give teacher gifts to and some of the suggestions included bus drivers, office assistants, crossing guards, and principals. Really, where will it end? So many people work to give your child a positive school experience. It just isn’t possible to gift them all. Why should the bus driver get a gift and not the librarian or custodian?
Even still, many of you will persist on buying a gift and I know your intentions are honourable. I will accept your gifts with grace and open them privately or just with your child present, so that no other student feels badly about their lack of giving. If you must give a teacher gift, here is what I would like most:
A gift certificate to a book store. I will use it to buy books for my classroom.
A gift certificate for the App store. I will use it to buy educational apps for the classroom.
A gift certificate for a store selling bins and baskets. I will use it to create a more organized classroom.
A gift certificate for the Dollar Store. I will use it to create engaging science experiments and art activities for my students.
Any gift that I can use towards creating a better classroom for my students.
After all, we do what we do for the kids (and summers off are just a really nice perk of the job).
School’s almost out! Enjoy your holidays!