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Teacher Gifts

I love BlogHer dearly, and I love reading Jenna‘s posts, but today I was filled with inexplicable frustration as I read her “7 Out-of-the-Box Ideas for Teachers’ Gifts this Holiday Season.”

The gift guide is cute, sweet, and tries to help parents find a gift that teachers will actually want or need. There are two things I took away from this piece:

  1. Teachers expect gifts during the holiday season.
  2. All parents and students can afford to get their teachers gifts during the holiday season.
This sign appeared in one of the copier rooms a few weeks ago. Typically, "copier" would appear where "SCHOOL" has been placed.

This sign appeared in one of the copier rooms a few weeks ago. Typically, “copier” would appear where “SCHOOL” has been placed.

As a first year teacher in an urban district, I barely expect my students to have a writing utensil every day. I would never expect my students to give me a gift– sometimes I can barely expect them to give me their homework! My students are working after school to support their families. Some of them are trying to help keep their families afloat and pay the rent. Others are trying to put food on the table. Some are struggling to afford to take care of their own medical expenses or their own children.

My school district is odd in the sense that it has some students who are fortunate enough to be from financially afloat families, and others who are fall below the poverty line. I have students who live with their parents, students who haven’t seen their parents in years, and students who live in group homes.

Last year, I wrote about the over-abundance of love I received at the end of student teaching, and how much it shocked me. It still does.

I would never expect a single gift from a student or a parent or guardian, and I never will. Being given the privilege and adventure of teaching their students is enough of a gift to me.

So, for those of you who may not have the ability to thank a teacher with a gift, or those of you who do not have the time to offer any assistance to a teacher (which, by the way, might actually be more stressful to teachers than helpful!), I offer you this simple “Urban School Teacher Gift Guide” for both students and the adults they may live with.

“Urban School Teacher Gift Guide”

  1. Thank a teacher for being a teacher. Telling a teacher “Thank you” can go a long way.
  2. Encourage your student to complete his or her classwork, and to hand it in on time. If a student fails to do so, encourage him or her not to approach the teacher arguing about the work, but rather politely apologizing and asking if it would be okay to hand it in during the next class period. I will always (secretly) accept late work with no consequences if I am approached respectfully. It also makes my day when schoolwork has been completed.
  3. Wish a teacher happy holidays and a happy New Year. Tell a teacher how much you’re looking forward to seeing him or her after winter break. It will make him or her feel amazing.
  4. Just smile.
  5. Again, say thank you. A “Thank you” is far more valuable than any gift I could receive. I have thank you notes from the students where I student taught locked up in a safe box. I will never get rid of these treasured, genuine words of appreciation.