I loved my students (mostly) and the parents (generally) but I dreaded the end-of-the-year gifts. Sometimes, rarely, there would be the handwritten note from a parent or child. Those were my favorites and I still treasure them. Once I received a plant to tuck into my home garden. It was a pretty verigated sedum. That was really nice. I was often given home-baked goods (yummy!) and once even a hand-made bird house that I adored. Usually, though, I received Best Teacher Ever mugs filled with candy. Or Best Teacher Ever tote bags. There were countless Best Teacher Ever tee-shirt-clad teddy bears and stuffed cats and, once, a Best Teacher Ever throw pillow.
Now, perhaps all my students imagined me at home over the summer, sipping tea in a mug from from my Best Teacher Ever mug collection, casually reclining on my Best Teacher Ever throw pillow while I contemplated a wall of Best Teacher Ever tee-shirt-clad teddy bears. Perhaps they could see me, heading out the door for fun summer activities with my Best Teacher Ever tote bag casually slung over my arm, a second cup of tea in my Best Teacher Ever travel mug.
They were wrong.
While I did appreciate the sentiment, the pre-printed platitudes made me feel like the WORST teacher ever. Heck, I was an ART teacher. What about making me a drawing? Something out of paper mache? A note saying "Thank you for teaching me not to cut my hand off with the X-acto knife' would have been pretty cool.
Now, I'm on the other end of the gift-giving. My daughters both have had wonderful teachers at their Montessori school and we are about to jump up to a new room for both of them. For the last 3 years they have each been with these wonderful women who have taught them so much and had such a profound influence on their lives. Of course, I can't just give them mugs, or tote bags, unless they are some amazing locally-crafted goodness. I will write those notes, and so will my daughters, but I'll also give them jewelry. I'll make something myself, and hope they like it.
If you have teachers that need gifts soon then you may want to check out these projects. I promise all of them are way better than the World's Best Teacher tee-shirt you saw at Target last week.
Yes, I've written about this before. It's kind of a personal mission of mine to end junky teacher gifts!