It’s that time of year again, Friends:
No more pencils
No more books
No more teachers’
Though I propose we amend the rhyme slightly to keep up with the times…
No more laptops
No more meets
No more sitting on my butt all.day.long staring at a screen and forgetting to unmute myself and asking students to turn their cameras on so I at least have a fighting chance of feeling connected to them and actually teaching them something.
Pretty catchy, eh? I think my version might catch on.
So yes. It is that time of year again.
If you have kids, you’ve probably recently added ‘get teacher gift’ to your already lengthy to-do list. Early in my teaching career, I was both humbled and perplexed by the gifts that poured in on the final days of the school year. I mean, I was just doing my job. And I was paid pretty well to do it. (Not in the first couple years – those years my best friend’s name was Visa.)
Despite the fact I had a salaried position and a clear mandate to show up every day and bestow the knowledge and build the skills, my students’ families still blew me away with their thoughtfulness and generosity each and every June.
Now that I’m a parent myself, with a school-aged child, I get it. Wow, do I get it!
My son’s teachers are two of my favourite people in the world. Not because I know them well, but because they have spent the last two years (my son is just wrapping up Senior Kindergarten [she wrote, as a fat tear rolled down her cheek]) guiding, encouraging, inspiring, redirecting, and cheering on my monkey. They took one of my most precious people and taught him how to read; they made him see himself as a capable learner. They nurtured his curiosity to the point he told Husband and me at dinner last night that he wants to be a teacher because he loves learning.
Be. Still. My. Mama. Heart.
I credit that all to his teachers.
And they performed a giant chunk of their teaching magic through a computer screen.
So of course I want to give them a token of my appreciation for all the time and effort and energy they have poured into my son! (And to, maybe, make up for a couple of the grey hairs he may have caused them…)
But what to give?
What gift captures the gratitude I feel, but also ensures I have enough left in the bank account to pay for allllll the summer camps I have enrolled the children in this summer? (Pleaseohpleaseohpleasedon’tcancelthecampsthisyear!)
I thought about the gifts I have received over the years. Without question, I was grateful for all of them because of what they represented – a parent taking time out of their busy day to think of me and recognize my efforts – but some resonated with me on a different level.
If you’re wondering what to get for your child’s teacher to celebrate the end of this more-challenging-than-usual school year, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the suggestions below. These are my top three favourites to receive, and now, to give. Spoiler alert: one of them is free!
3) Anything personalized.
I can’t throw a stone in my neighbourhood without hitting the house of a “maker”. If you don’t have your own Cricut machine, I guarantee you someone in your social sphere does, or you can find a local maker on, ugh, Facebook. There are lots of basic items that can be made into something really special with the addition of a person’s name, or favourite colour, or a special quote. Think water bottles, coffee cups, clipboards, signs. Useful items that have been personalized to reflect the recipient’s personality. I go bananas for this stuff.
I feel like this one doesn’t require an explanation. I do feel compelled, though, to mention that we can’t assume every teacher drinks – even though it is a very intelligent assumption and we mostly all do. Even the not-so-great wine can usually be turned into a lovely sangria. I’m not a big drinker, but you can bet your laptop I’ll be filling my glass to the brim and toasting to the end of this tumultuous school year. Major creativity points if you combine this with my first suggestion and personalize the label!
And finally, my most favourite thing to receive at the end of the year:
1) A heartfelt card from a parent and/or my student
If your child’s teacher has made a difference in your child’s life this year, let them know – in writing. Not to totally dork out on you here, but I’m actually welling up as I write because I’m thinking about the special letters and cards that inspired me to include this section. Friends, those words that someone took the time to write, just for me? The words that thank me, that tell me how much I helped a child, or what a positive year their child had, or how their child likes school now, or how their child felt seen and valued in my classroom – those words mean everything. They are the best gift, and they keep on giving long after your child has moved on to another grade. I have a box where I keep all the special cards and letters that parents and students have written for me. When I need a boost, when I need to be reminded of why I went into this
insane bonkers wonderful profession, I pull out that box and read through all those lovely words, letting their warmth and kindness wash over me. Without fail, I feel re-affirmed and re-inspired every time. Talk about an incredible gift to give someone.
I would be remiss if I didn’t add this disclaimer: It’s also ok if you don’t give your child’s teacher a gift. Some experiences weren’t positive. Sometimes the to do list is just so long, you have to say no to something in the name of avoiding mental combustion. In my 20 years in the profession, I have yet to hear a teacher complain about the students who didn’t give her something at the end of the year.
So. There you have it. Hopefully these ideas will be helpful to you as we collectively crawl to the finish line of this very trying school year. Whatever you decide to give your child’s teacher, be it one of my suggestions or something completely different – like a Tim Horton’s gift card or a plant or a bedazzled teacher bag (I may have received one a few years back) – know that your thoughtfulness and appreciation is always, er…appreciated.
I fully agree! I got choked up reading the part about the handwritten letter or card. I’ve even received the odd email that just made me feel like I picked the right thing to do for a living. What a ride!
I couldn’t agree more. Cards are the most wonderful gifts. I taught in secondary schools in the UK and I too have a box in which I keep every single card I was given over the years. Words of thanks from teenagers are very special indeed and they do sustain you through the difficult times. I gave up teaching a few years ago but every so often I look through the cards and it makes me incredibly grateful to have had the privilege to teach.