Teacher Gifts from the Heart

An assortment of notes and cards with personal notes from students
So, recently I happened across one of those lists that circulate on social media.  You know the kind – the sort that generates so many reactions and comments that you can’t possibly hope to read them all. 

What was so controversial?  A list of suggested teacher gifts, which was actually a list of all the common teacher gifts and why teachers won’t like them, and so really we should all just buy them a big pile of gift cards to the ubiquitous green coffee shop (pause for breath).  (And allegedly real teachers had been consulted for this.)

Well, guess what?  I’ve been a teacher for almost two decades, and as I read, it was a list of basically all the teacher gifts I’ve gotten over the years and I loved every single one of them.  But you know, I’m weird – maybe it’s just me who’s thrilled that my students went online to buy me a personalized coffee cup.

And yet as I scrolled through the post comments, they really fell into one of two groups:
(1) Shocked teachers who couldn’t imagine what sort of ungrateful person would reject these gifts
(2) Annoyed parents who said that if the teachers are so %!#$ ungrateful, then they just won’t give them anything
So I have to say, what follows is half rant, half glowing student tribute . . .
Here’s my top 10 list of awesome student gifts that I as a real teacher LOVED:

World's Best Latin Teacher mug#1- That coffee mug.  OMG.  My seniors pitched in to buy me a coffee mug emblazoned with the words “World’s Best Latin Teacher” and then came all together in a sheepish group after school to give it to me. 💗💗forever guys!  Two years later, the lettering is wearing off because I use it so often. 😭

#2- A pair of earrings, from twin sisters fifteen years ago.  They’re right there on my jewelry rack.  Match every green outfit I own (and that’s a lot).   

#3- The Pashmina scarves. These have gotten popular lately as gifts, and I’ve received them from two different (teenage guy) students.  I wear scarves from the first hint of autumn until capri season, so why wouldn’t these be awesome?

#4- The gift basket full of food and other awesome goodies.  Now, this was from a senior as an end-of-the-year and thanks-for-recommending-me-to-my-dream-school kind of present, but it was awesome.  Yes, there were a few things in there that we couldn’t eat because there are food allergies in my house, but I couldn’t believe the trouble that he went to in order to haul this ostentatious heap of cookies, crackers, and jams into the building!

#5- The glass paperweight.  It wasn’t even a holiday present.  One of my students made a fist-sized ball of glass in shop class ten years ago, brought it to me, and said, “I made this for you.”  On my desk ever since.
Orange statement necklace
#6- The orange statement necklace.  From a pair of senior girls who obviously understood my style better than I did, because at the time I couldn’t see myself wearing it to work, and now come to realize it looks awesome with half of my summer wardrobe.

#7- The lunch bag custom-printed with a Catullus poem we’d read together in class.  Latinists know which one – everyone else, it’s a Latin thing😉  Oh and did I mention, it was filled with an entire bag of Hershey’s kisses!?!

#8- Sure, okay – gift cards.  We’re all busy. I’ve done it too.  It’s the thought that counts.  But honestly, if you’re going that route, the book store is just as awesome as the big green coffee shop.

#9- Homemade cookies, store-bought candies, and other caloric goodness.  Seriously?  It’s food, it tastes good, and it usually shows up on my desk far enough before break that it all gets eaten before we go home.  Yes, some of us have allergies/waistlines/dietary preferences to worry about, but in that case it will go on a table in the teachers’ lounge where the rest of us will make short work of it.  And yes, every once in a while the homemade treats look a little iffy by the time they get to the classroom.  But we smile and say thank you because, for heaven’s sake, that’s what grandma taught us to do!

​#10- The personal note or card. This. So much this.  Every teacher has a drawer of student notes that bring a smile to our face whenever we’re having one of “those” days.  I would rather have one genuine heartfelt note from a student than a dozen gift cards. 
None of us are in this profession for mercenary reasons.  There are plenty of (much) easier ways to make (a lot) more money with our degrees.  We’re here because we care, and we want to feel . . . appreciated. 😊  Honestly, one moment of appreciation is enough to sustain me for an entire month.

So if you get your teacher a gift card, that’s great.  You won’t be the only one.  If you don’t do holiday gifts for teachers, that’s cool too.  Out of a hundred students, I think I get maybe half a dozen gifts, sometimes less.  But if you have the time and the inclination, don’t be afraid to help your child give a gift from the heart.  It’s always appreciated, and dare I say, loved.
--Happy Holidays to one & all from The Snarky Owl Workshop
Teacher Gifts from the Heart
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