The season of giving has reached, but expressing heartfelt thanks can seldom prove to be a challenge. Whether you’re a student, parent, admin, or a teacher yourself, you know that the professors in your life work tirelessly every day. So, what is the best way to show your appreciation? Luckily, teachers themselves from far and far-flung have offered their silly, dangerous, and honest inside scoop, brainstorming three ideas you can fit a tiny sign of appreciation this month or any month.
Words of Gratitude
“My favorite phrases of gratitude are the sweet notes that kids write to me. Hearing what signifies to them helps me to know the impact that I make. I keep a folder of these notes to look through… sometimes just for fun and seldom when I need a little cheering up on an unfortunate day! Some of my old students now have children of their own, and it is fun to send them a copy of what they recorded to me so long ago!” (Pam, 7th and 8th-Grade Math Teacher, Vermont)
“I SO enjoy a special note or email from parents, acknowledging the hard work and energy that I have put into their child. And it’s even more helpful when these come DURING the year versus at the end of the school year. It’s amazing how the power of kind words can keep you stimulated during even the most stressful times!” (Sara, 1st and 2nd-grade Teacher, La Paz Community School, Costa Rica)
“When I was a teacher, I was always so obliged when my control or my co-workers wrote me a note to commemorate a favorite memory or express gratitude for something that I was able to bring to the team or the school. It made me feel deeply connected to my peers and to the community in which I managed. (And chocolate or a bottle of wine didn’t hurt!)” (Audrey, former Elementary School Teacher, current Turnitin Content Manager, California)
Gift Cards #ftw
“Please, no more coffee vessels or Xmas ornaments. And no little knick-knacks from other countries! Consider gift vouchers to Trader Joe’s, local ice cream shops, Peet’s drink shop, or Amazon. One year, I got a very generous gift card to a local day spa, which was splendid. Kids who know me have brought me gift cards to French bakeries or chocolate shops, which are so special, too.” (9-12 grade English teacher, California)
“Gift cards to places I frequent: Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target, Amazon. Also, lavender soap or homemade baked goods, sans nuts (one girl emailed all her teachers to ask if we had any food diseases before giving us all this amazingly delicious pear cheesecake!). Not Starbucks! Starbucks gift tags are the most popular gift I get, and the ONLY reason I go to Starbucks.” (9-12 grade English teacher, California)
“Gift cards: anything that helps teachers to take care of themselves. My gift years ago was a gift certificate for a massage. The note did cute writing to how her child caused those knots.” (C, Middle School Principal, California)
Think Outside of the (Gift) Box
“Any gift that shows me that the parents and students know and care concerning me, not just as a teacher, but as a person outside of school! It is a great act of gratitude when parents and students show the same interest in who we are as people. A few years ago, I joined with a student over our love for the outdoors and camping. Her parents often asked me what I was up to over the weekend when I saw them at pick-up and drop-off. When it came to the end of the time, I received a camping hammock from them to use while I was adventuring across the country!” (Ashley, 4th Grade Teacher, Connecticut)
“Last year, when I continued teaching elementary school, a parent gave me a ‘Hope you enjoy summer break’ basket with a beach bag, sunscreen, snacks, and cocktail parties. Someone gave me a gift card for a facial and manicure once as well. My daughter’s teacher told me all she wanted to be a Roomba, so I asked parents to provide money toward one. Now she never has to sweep or vacuum!” (C, Elementary School Teacher, California)
“I love it when my students give me cards that express how I helped them! I also received a personalized water bottle that was a nice gift. Because I teach game design at our institution, swag from the games they produce are wonderful souvenirs and decorations for my office, including the postcards and flyers. Also, international students give me treats from their home countries, which I love!” (Jane, MA Program Instructor, California)
The best “gift” I receive from students is an expression of their interest in the subject matter we have gone through collectively. Nothing is more gratifying than to see a student embark on his or her journey in biology reading, research, or coursework. It’s even pleasant to hear students say they got sucked into a long bout of Wikipedia reading after a topic in class piqued their interest! (Judy, a current postdoc at University of Maryland, the former teaching assistant at UC Davis)
This holiday season, take a moment to offer gratitude for an educator in your life. Be it written, baked, acquired, or verbalized, know that no matter how you show it, a heartfelt thank you for an educator goes a continued way.