Of course, teachers appreciate the thoughtful gifts their students give them for the holidays. However, what they appreciate the most is knowing that they are appreciated. It doesn't take a fancy store-bought or handmade gift to let them know how much they've changed their students' lives.
Laurie, a childhood early education teacher who followed her mother's footsteps into the teaching profession, talks fondly of a childhood memory from when her mom brought home gifts she received. There were always several personal notes painstakingly written by her young students, "Those were the gifts she held onto while many of the others were eaten or packed away."
Barbara also enjoys receiving gift cards from her students, especially if the student was the one doing the writing. She loves it when a student references a special lesson and what they learned from it. Sometimes, parents write notes of appreciation saying how much she has helped their child.
Among the more popular gifts teachers often receive just before the Christmas holiday are ornaments, coffee mugs with "Favorite Teacher" emblazoned across it, scented candles, picture frames and candy. Laurie said: "I really appreciate the sentiment behind each of these gifts. The joy on a child's face as he hands me a package that he wrapped by himself really touches me."
Many teachers like to keep some snacks in their desk drawers for those long afternoons of grading papers. One gift idea is a small bucket full of assorted and individually wrapped (mostly) healthy snacks -- although a little chocolate is often welcomed, too. Don't forget to toss in a few small water bottles. If you really want to throw in a coffee mug, fill it with tea bags and single-serve instant coffee packets. A box of chocolates is very nice as well.
Cathy was always pleased with the gift cards to a local store she received from her entire class. "I was always able to choose something nice for myself and more importantly, every parent gave only what they could so no one was embarrassed if they couldn't afford much." The only person who knew what each parent gave was the one collecting the funds.
With many teachers forced to purchase classroom items with their own money, receiving something they could use in their classrooms gives an added boost. These gifts could include cleaning supplies, specialty markers, arts and crafts units, age-appropriate books for a classroom library, colorful index cards and so much more.
If you are at a loss as to what to get for the classroom, check out the nonprofit DonorsChoose.org, "where teachers could post classroom project requests, and donors could choose the ones they wanted to support." A teacher created this project two decades ago when his own classroom funding fell seriously short. Give this site a look and see if the school of your choice is on there. Fundraising opportunities include creative workspaces for students, yoga equipment, audio equipment and, with the recent distance-learning concerns, student tablets and other at-home supplies to keep classes going. All projects are vetted before being publicized.
Other great teacher gift ideas are warm and fuzzy socks, weekly planner books, attachable or retractable pens that won't roll off a teacher's desk, a small fleece blanket or shawl for recess time while the teacher supervises her students, desk calendars, a class picture in a photo frame, a hand-sanitizer dispenser and gift cards for a local bookstore, supply shop or favorite restaurant.
The traditional apple for the teacher has multiple meanings. Some see the apple as a symbol of hard-earned knowledge. Others see it as a sign of sincere gratitude stemming from when teachers were underpaid and served rural farm communities. Either way, brightening your teacher's day is thoughtful indeed.