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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.

Photo a Day– December

One of the teachers at school posted this photo on Facebook, and it motivated me to do two things:

1. actually partake in this photo a day challenge because it’s so much easier to post a picture than write a blog

2. actually commit to playing around with Pinterest more

My Pinterest site is pretty neglected, and I’m hoping this challenge will help me become more understanding of the site.

So what are you waiting for? Follow my Photo A Day Board on Pinterest!

NaBloPoMo 2012– November 25: Sappy Seasons Greetings

November is always a family-filled month for me. Between November 19th and November 29th, there are 4 birthdays, Thanksgiving, and at least one family birthday party. This year, Thanksgiving fell on my Grandma’s birthday. Two days later, we gathered to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. I love my family dearly, but something caused me to do a lot of reflecting this year during Thanksgiving Break.

For reasons I cannot explain, despite the fact that I was excited to spend time with my family and have a few days off from school, I found the idea of Thanksgiving to be very depressing. It probably has something to do with the fact that I’m two months away from turning 23, but I found myself spending a lot of Thanksgiving break thinking about my future.

I’ve been yearning for a place of my own lately that isn’t a part of University Housing. I want a house with a porch, a bit of a yard, and space for me to leisurely stroll around, garden, or even walk a dog. With dreams of a small house of my own (which, if I save enough money, I may actually be able to afford in the next few years!) came dreams of sharing my house with someone else. As one of my favorite fictional characters, Liz Lemon, has said, “I just wish I could start a relationship about twelve years in, when you really don’t have to try anymore, and you can just sit around together and goof on TV shows, and then go to bed without anybody trying any funny business.” I yearn for a committed, loving relationship with a sense of permanency. I know I’m young (see? I can read your minds, readers-o-mine!), but I’m an old soul. I’m ready to settle down with the lady of my dreams and start a life together. I just have to meet her first.

In the weird way that my mind works (and has been working), I have had baby fever for a few months now. I had been able to control it by babysitting for my friends, but even that hasn’t subdued my motherly urges lately. While I’m nowhere near ready to welcome a child into my life, I know that I’d be able to handle the responsibility of taking care of someone else. I should really look into getting a pet rock. Instead, as I attended family gathering after family gathering and took care of my youngest cousin, who is approximately 22 years and 3 months younger than me, I actually found myself thinking about how surreal it is that I’m at a point in my life where, if I were to become a modern day Mary Magdalene and have some immaculate conception happen in my life I’d actually be able to step up to the plate and be a responsible young mother. In less than a year I’ll be a paid member of the teaching profession,¬†perhaps¬†living on my own, and actually being a real adult. This realization caused my mind to drift and reflect on my future, and I started wondering what my life will hold in the next 5, 10 years: Will I be married? Will I have children? Will I adopt children? Will I be a foster parent? Will I have a dog? Sometimes the most terrifying thing about the future is its uncertainty.

It’s like ButchesandBabies, except I’m a femme. And I disguised the lil squish for the protection of the criminally adorable. Happy Thanksgiving?

As I drove back to school tonight, I was listening to the Christmas songs on the radio and I was suddenly overwhelmed with sadness. I loveloveLOVE Christmas music so this was incredibly shocking to me. I actually got teary eyed as I thought about how so many of my younger cousins (I’m the oldest of 12) have significant others, and how sad the idea of being alone on Christmas makes me this year. I know I won’t be alone, as I have a wonderfully large, loving family, but there’s something inside of me that’s telling me I need to settle down, have matching stockings to hang with someone, and start a future. Hell, I just want someone to hold me as I stare at my beautifully lit Christmas tree, listening to Christmas songs, and enjoying the warmth of the holiday season.

I’m not sure what has gotten into me lately, and I know I have a long way to go before I can obtain any of these dreams. i just wish I could look into a crystal ball sometimes and know that everything’s going to turn out alright.

What sorts of thoughts do the holiday season bring to your head?