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It's the thought that counts when it comes to teachers' gifts

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We are approaching the end of the school year. With teacher appreciation week coming up I found it suitable to write about gifts of thanks!

Parents are the most important teachers a child has and if your child sees you modeling appreciation they are likely to follow suit. It's always nice to have words of thanks. Sometimes those are the very best and memorable gifts. How nice when you have double the thanks from the parents and the child. It all goes back to what each and every teacher has said to you, "Follow the Golden Rule!" (Treat others as you want to be treated). Everyone needs a pat on the back. Teachers fall in love with the kids in their class every year and think of each student as their own child (if only for a short time). A teacher's heart is huge and simple words of thanks can mean so much. A token of appreciation coming from a student and the parents can make a teacher beam.

Photo: Second grade teachers celebrate a successful conference with doughnuts!
Gifts to Give

Make it personal: what do you know about your child's teacher? Last week a teacher celebrated her birthday and was so thrilled to receive tickets to see Jimmy Buffet in a bucket because it was on her bucket list! It's nice that her class knew her well enough to know she would love this gift! Another teacher once got a "summer of fun" all rolled up! Every time she unrolled more paper she found tickets to summer musicals and gift cards for ice cream, all for her family to enjoy over the summer break.

Homemade gifts, such as small plants in pots decorated by students. (Last year I received a pot decorated with each child's fingerprint to look like ladybugs. The inside was full of gift cards that suited me! It was personal and memorable).

Notes of appreciation from students (for example, a class photo with the children's sweet words all around it)

Time! Offer to do her recess duty or pick up the kids from lunch so she might enjoy some extra time. (Last year our Principal gave us the gift of time and showed the kids a movie while teachers got to work in their rooms to complete permanent records and catch up. That was the best)!

Gifts to Avoid

• Teachers are fully stocked in candles, body lotions, and coffee mugs! Unless you know her favorite scent, smells can be too personal a gift.

• A fellow teacher says this, "I always like to compare gift giving for a teacher to any other professional gift. Would you give your lawyer, accountant, or doctor a stack of post-it notes or ball point pens?" Unless they ask for it, it's just not very personal or thoughtful!

• I have had gifts that cracked me up! As it turns out they are the most memorable: a used gift card, a dusty broken angel with one arm from grandma's attic, a child once said, "Here Mrs. Cooley, my mom got this in the mail for free and doesn't want it, it's your present now!" Yeah, it may have made me feel underappreciated! But, I have to step back and look at the big picture to see it's the child who is appreciating me! And that's what counts!

It's the thought! You have heard it all your life, and it's true, it really is the thought THAT COUNTS. No gift (in the traditional sense) is necessary. The thought, however, should be sincere and heartfelt. That's what counts. A "thank you", expressed in a sincere and meaningful way can fuel inspiration for a teacher to find new ways to reach and help more children in the future.

Be sensitive to your child! When all the students come in with a designated gift and if they don't have one, they will feel just awful! Many children will come back in from recess with freshly picked weeds or bring back an apple from their lunch because they want to contribute too. Another fellow teacher said when most of her students were showering her with candy, flowers, and gift cards a little girl came up with tears and said: "I didn't have anything to bring you from home.....but I do have a very special gift for you." With that being said...she threw her arms around my neck....and gave me a huge hug ...and said ...."Mrs. Beaver....I love you so much!" With all of the wonderful gifts sitting on my desk....that was the best!! Giving of one's self, no matter how small, means the most to teachers.

Teachers give so much of their time, heart, and self to their students and their community, what could be more wonderful than taking the trouble to say thank you, in a wholehearted way.

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Just like in Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, teachers give and give to their students. What's nice is that some of those students come back years later when the teacher thinks she has nothing left to give, all the child wants is to share something they've accomplished and for you to say, "Good job, I'm proud of you!" The teacher obliges and the child is happy!

Our wonderful PTA gives the sweetest suggestions I'm sure you will find helpful for Teacher Appreciation Week (ours is a movie theme):

Lights: Brighten up your teacher's day by bringing her favorite flower or a flower from your garden.
Camera: draw a picture; give a picture of you and your teacher, frame, disposable camera, scrapbook supplies.
Action: make a card, poem, or handmade coupons for classroom chores.
Roll out the Red Carpet: wear red to show spirit and/or bring your teacher something red.
Premiere: pamper your teacher to make her feel like a "star"...a note, sweet treats, manicure/pedicure, gift card to the movies, restaurant, or her favorite place to shop).

I'm sure you noticed that these are things you can do with little to no money! After all, it's the thought that counts.

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Photo: Mrs. Cooley's sweet second grade class

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