Teacher Appreciation Week is May 7-11, 2018

I was a public-school teacher for five years before deciding to take a break from the classroom and stay home with my littles. I taught everything from special education to IB Biology and loved every moment (okay, MOST moments). Was it exhausting, frustrating, and overwhelming at times? Absolutely. But it was also glorious, and exciting, and incredibly fulfilling.

I taught at three different schools over those few years, which meant that I experienced nearly every type of student and with that, every type of parent. My favorite parents? The ones who recognized the balance between “helpful and engaged” and “completely checked-out.” These are the parents who actively participate in their child’s education, yet respect the fact that the teacher is a competent professional. These were also the parents who seemed to understand Teacher Appreciation Week. Now, don’t get me wrong—as teachers, we are thankful for ANY help, assistance, and support from parents. However, there are just some teacher appreciation gifts that totally #nailit and there are some that end up sitting in the back of a filing cabinet or on a shelf in a prep room.

If you’re sitting there thinking I’m an ungrateful *you know what*, consider that although I’m not in the classroom currently, many of my close friends are. I wanted to ensure that my experience wasn’t one that was totally unique, so I crowd-sourced before writing this. Two things consistently came up as gifts a teacher REALLY wants for Teacher Appreciation week. Spoiler: it doesn’t have to be some insanely cute, Pinterest-worthy, elaborate doing. In fact, the simpler, the better.

So, what do teachers REALLY want?

  • Hand-written cards, letters, notes

As a teacher, it can often feel like your hours (and hours) of planning, preparation, and organization go unnoticed and unappreciated. The lesson you spent hours researching and creating totally flopped. The class decided that using those cute manipulatives as weapons instead of math-tools. The copier jammed and you couldn’t get the worksheet. Every day, it’s something. So when you receive a little note, a letter, or even a drawing from a student thanking you, it can rock your world. Crazy spelling and barely legible? Even better. Stick figures or giant blobs with arms and legs extending straight from the head? Adorable.

  • Gift Cards

Upon first read, this one seems kind of tacky and thoughtless. Put on your teacher hat, though, and you’ll see that the value here is much more than monetary. The value in a gift card can provide a teacher with a sigh of relief— and maybe enough extra cash this paycheck for nice dinner. Unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life (or maybe in Finland, where the education system is vastly different than ours), you know that teachers not only make pennies on the dollar for educating the future of our Nation, but they also typically spend a good chunk of their own money on classroom supplies. Target, Amazon, and Starbucks top the list, but places like Oriental Trading Company and Learning Express are also incredibly helpful for a teacher’s pocketbook and your child’s classroom. Win, win!

  • All the wine

Haha! Only sort-of joking with this one. Ever feel like you need a drink after a long day with your little love muffin(s)? Imagine spending 5 days a week with 25 of them! Is your child’s teacher ALSO a mom? Oh, she definitely needs wine. But a word of advice on this one: maybe you hand deliver it after school. My kiddos aren’t school-age yet, but I’m fairly certain sending wine in your child’s backpack is frowned upon.

Boom. Done. Trust me, your child’s teacher will thank you. Oh, and if you have older kiddos, don’t forget about those middle and high school teachers! They often get passed over and my oh my, Lord knows that teenagers are a handful. And to all of the teachers out there, we see you, and we THANK YOU!


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