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This coming week is Teacher Appreciation Week! As a former classroom teacher, I have some easy suggestions for last minute gifts that teachers will love.
A Note of appreciation
If you really want to make a teacher’s day, have your child write a heartfelt note. If you really want to make a teacher’s day, have your child write a heartfelt note of thanks. Click To TweetWhat is her favorite thing about being in that teacher’s class? How has the teacher made your child a better student? Learner? Scientist? Mathematician? What is your child’s favorite memory from the school year? You can write a note as well! If your child is too young to write, they can draw a picture. Even my high schoolers drew pictures for me!
I still have student and parent notes saved in a folder. When I had a bad day, I opened that folder and I always felt so much better. Your note doesn’t have to cost a thing. Write it on a piece of notebook paper or even e-mail it.
Most teachers love a gift card to Starbucks, Target, or Amazon. And it doesn’t have to be much – a $5 gift card put a spring in my step. Pair it with the note mentioned above and you’ll make someone’s week. Want to give more? Throw in a cute mug!
Teachers can be book fiends! At the elementary level, buy a few grade-level books for the classroom library. Most middle and high school English teachers also have class libraries for students. Want to get a book for the teacher? Is there a topic or author you know the teacher loves? One year, a student bought a coffee table book for me about ancient Egypt – loved it! Not sure which book to buy? See the “gift card” section above.
Teachers will eat just about any goody. If your kiddo really likes the teacher, try to personalize it. I always let my students know that I love chocolate and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups in particular. Don’t you know it? They always gave me a ton. While homemade treats are particularly appreciated, store bought is just fine, too. (And don’t forget that note!)
Most teachers are crazy about school supplies. Buy some colorful pens or stationary, attach that nice note, and you have an awesome gift. Some thoughts:
Classroom Decorations or Supplies
A small plant, a cute print, or a knick-knack are an easy way to brighten up the classroom. (Bonus points if the knick-knack is specific to their field or their classroom theme. One year, a student brought me pyramid statues from Egypt. Loved them!) But please, no apples!
AND these gifts don’t have to be Pinterest perfectly wrapped. If you have a cute bag to throw it in, great. If not, don’t worry about it. It really is the thought that counts.
Your gifts don’t have to end with Teacher Appreciation Week, though. Let’s be frank about what teachers REALLY want:
During my career, I felt the ever-eroding respect for teaching as a profession. Especially from politicians and policy-makers, but also from the public and parents themselves. Teachers work damn hard at a complex and demanding job. Teachers are PROFESSIONALS and should be treated as such. Click To TweetWe have all been to the doctor’s office – that doesn’t mean we know how to be a doctor. Yet, many who have no teaching experience feel the need to make decisions about the teaching profession.
When your child’s teacher tells you something you don’t want to hear (about your child’s behavior or academic progress), take those comments seriously. Ask follow-up questions and consider his or her advice.
Teachers can’t do it all by themselves. Parents play an integral role in the school’s success. Attend Back to School Night and Parent Conferences. Become a member of your school’s PTA and help raise extra funds that support the school’s programs. Be a cheerleader for the school’s successes, but also work to improve its weaknesses.Be a cheerleader for the school’s successes, but also work to improve its weaknesses. Click To Tweet
Attend school board meetings. Support candidates who talk about equity for students, smaller class sizes, fair evaluation systems, and decent pay for everyone who works with your children, from teachers, to coaches, to support staff. Approve real estate tax increases. (I put my money where my mouth is – I am no longer a teacher, nor do I have a child in school. But I happily approved an increase in my own taxes this last year to boost funding for my local school district.) Please don’t balance the budget on the teachers’ backs.
While intangible, these last few gifts last forever and your teachers will be incredibly thankful.