Teacher appreciation week is next week (May 7-11, 2012), so if you have children in school you may want to take this opportunity to thank a teacher. Personal preference among teachers is a wide and varied as in any other profession. Here is a list of do and don’ts that can help guide you to ways of showing your appreciation that will be, well, appreciated.
Do: Think about a gift of classroom supplies. The average teacher in the US spends $350 of their own money on school supplies for their students to use. I buy pencils, colored pencils, crayons, erasers, glue sticks, cotton balls, Kleenex, and brown paper bags for my library students to use. I also do a couple of projects that involve food, all of which I buy myself. By May, many classrooms are running low on consumable supplies and a couple packages of new pencils would be put to good use. Keep this in mind when you are stocking up on school supplies in August.
Do not: Give something with apples on it just because it has apples on it. Trust me on this one.
Do: If you gift is not for the classroom, think about what the teacher enjoys outside of school. Usually students will know something their teacher likes. Ask your child what his or her teacher talks about doing on the weekend or at home.
A friend of mine teaches kindergarten and uses her stapler during calendar time every day. One year, the calendar stapler broke just after Thanksgiving and when Christmas came, one of her little boys came in with a package. His mom was with him and said “He insisted you needed this, I don’t understand.” It was a new stapler. Kids know.
Do not: Assume all teachers drink coffee. While most of us do guzzle it by the quart, there are some folks who don’t.
Do: Give a gift card to a place that has something for everyone. It is easy to use a gift card at WalMart, Target, Walgreens, Amazon, the gas station, or the local pizza place. It is a little harder to use a gift card to a place I don’t shop or doesn’t sell anything I use.
Do not: Forget that there are lots of other teachers in the building besides the classroom teachers. The gym teacher, art teacher, music teacher, librarian, special education staff and guidance counselor are teachers you child may interact with. If your student wakes up and says “YES! It is ART DAY!” Maybe you want to give that teacher a token of appreciation too.
Do: Get together with other parents to give an all school gift. Three or four moms can each make a pot of soup and put them in the lounge at lunch time with a note that says “The Brown, Smith, and Collins kids think you are SOUPER!” A bowl of candy that says “Thanks for being so sweet” would send the message too.
Do not: Underestimate the value of a note from your child. I received a note years ago that says “If you were not my librarian I would not like that.” I will have it forever.
Do: Think about sending an e-mail or letter to your school principal letting him or her know how much your child’s teacher means to you. Principals usually only hear from parents if they are unhappy. Pointing out the positive experience you and your child are having brings attention to the good things going on in a school building.
Do not: Think you must do something for teacher appreciation week. You send us your children 180 days a year. That is a compliment enough.
photo credit: © thanh lam – Fotolia.com and modified by Christina Brown