Tania K. Cowling is a former teacher, a published book author, and award winning freelance writer.
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Whether it's the holiday season or the end of the year, teachers can expect tokens of appreciation. The fact is, gifts are symbolic and convey meaning; they become memories. So, I decided to ask some of my teacher colleagues and friends what they really like to receive as gifts. Do these favored teacher gifts ring true to you? (And if you're a parent, perhaps you'll get some inspiration!)
As a teacher, I loved a handwritten note from a student, and so does my friend Paul G. out in California. We're happy to know that we've made a positive impact on a child's life, so a simple "thank you" goes a long way. Angela T., who taught an adult photography class in Iowa, loved personal notes that talked about what her students learned. All the teachers I talked to felt that personal notes were meaningful and truly appreciated. Sending a copy to the administration isn't a bad thing either!
Count how many apple-motif items you already have—could you really use another? Hopefully parents will consider another theme! Receiving a thermal, stainless-steel mug or container is on trend these days. They come in a rainbow of colors and prints, and they're great at keeping hot coffee warm for hours or water cold. Monogrammed stationary/sticky notes are thoughtful gifts because teachers are always writing notes (hopefully good ones). Potted green plants are nice to display on an instructor's desk. Does the teacher like sports? Something emblazoned with a local sports logo would be a hit—maybe a printed computer mouse pad.
Many teachers enjoy gifts made by their students. I received one from my kindergarten class one year. The room mother helped the children make a personal DVD with recordings where they talked about what they liked about me and the special things I taught. You never know what comes from the mouths of babes, but this gift was a treasure.
Gift cards ranked high on the list of appreciated gifts. Just think of all the times you've spent your own money on supplies. Janelle C., a New York teacher, said that a gift card for an office supply store can yield extra art supplies, pencils, construction paper, and more for the classroom. On the other hand, Ashley S., down in Florida, loves coffee, so a small gift card for a local coffee shop is top of the list for this teacher.
Other places to get gift cards are restaurants (lunch), bookstores, a nail salon, or even a movie theater. There's a world of gift cards these days, making for perfect teacher appreciation gifts from the kiddos.
Not every gift idea is a winner. For example, most teachers would rather leave the beauty products to themselves. The colors and scents are personal and much better left to the individual—the same goes for clothing and jewelry. And while some parents are excellent bakers, bringing in sweet treats can be a dangerous thing (and I don't mean extra calories). The last thing you would want is a food allergy to be triggered by what was supposed to be a thoughtful gift.
From preschool to high school, students usually give teacher gifts to educators that show how much they're truly appreciated. Molly L., a private school educator in Georgia, mentioned how her school secretary compiles a list of teachers' favorite things each year and emails it to the parents. If only all schools did this! But, in all honesty, the practice of giving teaches our youth the wonderful feeling of sharing during the holidays and brightens holiday spirit. There's no better gift than that.
So, what was the best teacher gift you've received? Leave a comment below!