The truth about teacher gifts

All teacher gifts are appreciated, but some of them are better loved than others.

When I taught at an inner-city school families would bring me homemade tamales, small figurines from the dollar store and fresh flowers from their yards. Sometimes the 8-year-old girls would come back from recess with bunches of Oxalis, a pretty yellow weed from the playground. These inexpensive gestures made me feel well-loved.

When I taught at a school in an upper-class neighborhood, families would bring me chocolate, homemade dinners and beautifully arranged photo albums with children’s letters. At Christmas and the school year’s end I would also receive over $200 worth of gift cards. Once again, I felt very well-loved.

My point is, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to say “Thank you,” but if you do, that’s nice, too.

There are many ways to show appreciation, but here is a no-fail list:

  • homegrown flowers
  • notes of appreciation–consider sending a copy to the principal student artwork
  • store-bought flowers
  • gift cards

Notice I didn’t mention food.

Personally, I loved the candy, home cooked meals and other baked goods I received from families. But that was me. Your child’s teacher might be on a special diet or have food allergies you don’t know about. It’s simpler to give her a gift card to Starbucks.

So what does my family give teachers each year? We start saving early so that we can buy gift cards to Nordstrom. I owe my kids’ teachers a debt that can never be repaid.

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