What a Teacher Really Wants, Not Another Mug

During the course of my career as a teacher and school administrator, I’ve received my share of memorable gifts from students. They cannot give us the smaller classes we would appreciate most (that would be the most beautiful gift) but as they cannot do that, let’s see what they can.

And one of the first things I learned as a teacher is to appreciate each gift, regardless of what it is; although honestly, that didn’t keep my teacher friends and me from having a little fun with some of the more unusual gifts we received.

Since most of the gifts were given to us on the Friday before the winter holiday break, the other grade level teachers and I agreed to wear any and every gift that was wearable on that day. We did this every year.

One year, my colleague pinned on a 2 inch long, 1-inch tall rhinestone “JESUS” brooch and tried really hard, albeit without any success to put on the pants that a student had given her.

They were dark green jeans. I put on a pair of the biggest gold-plated hoop earrings I had ever seen along with a vest (the kind that buttons up the front).

All kidding aside, if you’re going to take the time and money to purchase a gift for your child’s teacher(s), I’m guessing you don’t want it to end up being the white elephant gift that gets passed around the most at the next staff holiday party.

In order to avoid this, here are the top 6 ideas for gifts for teachers and staff, and please remember, gifts are a thoughtful gesture meant to express your gratitude. They are completely voluntary.

6. More recently, a room parent will ask families to contribute $5-10 to a class gift. I love this because it’s an easy way for families to give a token of appreciation to the teacher and the students can get a nice gift on behalf of the whole class for the teacher.

5. A plant like an orchid. They’ll last longer than flowers…that is unless the teacher has a black thumb like I do.

4. A new book for the classroom library. Teachers spend so much of their own money on supplies so to receive a new book that all of the students can use is useful and will save the teacher some money for him/herself.

3. Movie tickets–You can purchase a pair at Costco or Sam’s Club for about $15 or go to the movie theater and get a gift card, although this will cost you more.

2. Gift cards–Target, Starbucks, Gas, Amazon.com, Local grocery store, etc… Something practical.

1. If your child is old enough, have him/her give the teacher(s) a handwritten note on a nice store-bought or homemade card or stationary. These were always my favorite to receive because I could keep them forever and read one on a less-than-stellar day. It helps to know that I made a difference in a kid’s life as his/her teacher or principal.

Here are a few thoughts on what not to get your child’s teacher.

6. In the words of Randy Moss, NFL player, “Straight cash, homey!” Don’t give your child’s teacher cash. They cannot accept it. (Or at least they shouldn’t as most schools have policies against receiving cash gifts.)

5. Clothing. Unless it’s something sentimental. At one of the schools where I was the principal, a parent, who went to Chicago on a business trip, bought me a Chicago Cubs division championship T-shirt. (I’m a huge Chicago sports fan.)

That was incredibly thoughtful and despite the fact that it was a size XL (way too big), I cherish it to this day. That being said, no clothing. Especially no-themed clothing, like a Christmas sweater with a big reindeer on it.

4. Another mug. Maybe for a first-year teacher, it’d be ok. But otherwise, don’t do it.

3. Jewelry.

2. Perfume.

1. Anything that’s been used and/or purchased at a garage sale. Unless it is a stack of kids’ books that would be useful to the classroom.

Anyway, Happy Holidays and see you in 2018!