We’ve all roamed the aisles of Target by now, and we’ve seen that all things “Back to School” are back in stores. It is August, so that means within a week or two, nearly all of Houston will be back in school. We can choose to start the year off on a positive note, by thanking teachers. People who feel valued are happier and more productive.
As a parent and an educator, I’ve come with suggestions for thanking teachers in your lives. I have also polled my coworkers to see what gifts have left an impact on them.
Amazon Wish Lists
If you are on Social Media at all, you have seen someone share their teacher wish list in hopes that generous souls on the Internet will clear it. Some teachers get lots of love and attention (as well as Amazon boxes) through this method. Others barely get anything. It is not because they are less effective teachers or less worthy; perhaps it’s because they are not “friends” with people fortunate enough to help them. They will never ask new parents to help them clear their lists, but maybe you could ask at Meet the Teacher if they have an Amazon Wish List. If you are too shy to do that, surprise them with an Amazon gift card.
It can take a lot of money to set up a nice, inviting, and functional classroom. While some veteran teachers may have leftover school supplies from previous years, rookie educators will not. Some students will not be able to afford school supplies, either. So, if you can, buy a little extra to send to school.
Because both teachers and students need supplies, sometimes teachers will post little notes of school supplies needed at their Meet the Teacher event. If you can afford to, consider taking one or two items off of their list. If you have a Costco or Sam’s Club membership and can buy anything in bulk, choose to purchase those items. Every teacher needs/wants: Sharpies, Flair pens, Ticonderoga pencils, copy paper, Kleenex, and Clorox wipes.
Fuel for the Day
No, not gas. Well actually, I did have one coworker say that a family once bought her a gas gift card, and it helped because her school was quite far from her home. And we all know gas prices these days . . . Teacher’s pet status comin’ in hot!
What I really meant by “fuel” was coffee and food. Not everyone likes coffee, and since there are literally 1000 variations of Starbucks orders, I suggest a gift card instead of an actual coffee. Have you ever seen the joy on a teacher’s face as they clutch their delicious morning coffee? It is sometimes the one thing that starts their day off on a positive note.
As for food, try to coordinate a breakfast or lunch drop off. Find out what they like, pick a date, and drop it off. Teacher lunches are short. They usually don’t have time to run out, pick something up, AND scarf it down before they have to collect kids from the cafeteria and bring them back to class. We don’t want hangry teachers. Feed them, so that they can pour into your child(ren).
The first few weeks of school are exhausting. I had a few teachers say that restaurant gift cards would be great, so they don’t have to worry about cooking each night. Teacher tired is next level.
A few teachers that I asked said that their favorite gifts were “Back to School Survival Kits.” Write a little note of encouragement, and fill up a gift bag or basket with essentials as well as some fun items. Suggested items include: Ibuprofen or Excedrin, hand sanitizer, water, snacks, gift cards, highlighters, dry erase markers, Flair pens, and even Tide pens in case they accidentally spill their lunch while scarfing it down.
All About Me Forms
If your school has a Parent Teacher Organization, they probably request teachers to fill out an “All About Me” form. This form is crucial for gift giving. Teachers tell you exactly what they like, be it supplies, favorite colors, favorite stores, food, snacks, scents, etc. Use it to shop smarter. Money is tight for so many, so if you’re going to spend it, it’s nice to know your gift will be appreciated and used. These lists help ensure that is the case.
The Best Gift of All
The best gift you can give any teacher is a well-rested and fed student who is ready to learn. If their basic needs are met, we can work with that. Please do not wait until the night before school starts to send them to bed at a decent hour. Please do not let them keep electronics in their room at bedtime. Just as adults often do, they will roll over and check that phone or play that game if they cannot sleep, which means they will not get good sleep.
If you have any concerns about your child, reach out to their teacher. If there have been any big changes in their lives over the summer, let their teacher know. We have to help grow the whole child, so knowing their story helps.
Wishing all Houston area families and teachers a wonderful school year!
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