Teacher Appreciation Week comes around every May, just around the time that state testing and spring fever have gotten teachers (and students, and parents) to the point of exhaustion. I've gotten many gifts over the years as a teacher, and I've recently seen lots of great (and entertaining) ideas floating around the Internet as to what teachers really want as tokens of appreciation. But what are the best things you can provide teachers as a small thank you for their dedication to your children?
Letters--we're teachers; we want to see your children write effectively. What better way to practice than to have your child write down how her teacher has made a difference in her life. These are the things that teachers hang on to for many years. I still have some of the cards and letters that I got when I taught, and I've been out of the classroom for years. As a teacher, there was nothing more important than my Smile File, a file of cards that I had gotten over the years that I could look at when I was having a bad day.
Books-- there was nothing more that I appreciated as a teacher than a book that a student felt was impactful in his life. Whether it was See Spot Run or something more serious, books gave great insight to what my students thought and did outside of my classroom.
Office supplies--many teachers spend their own money (and we all know they make millions, right?) on supplies for students. Alleviating this is one of the greatest gifts you can give. We all want our students to have what they need to succeed and have fun while learning.
A group gift-- one of my favorite gifts of all time was given to me at the end of my student teaching. It was a full-class scrapbook of notes and symbols that created memories of my time with my students. Another is a simple framed newspaper, signed by each of my journalism students from that school year (along with a copy of the award that year's staff had won). These are things that I still have years later that still make me smile. A full-class note, scrapbook, card, whatever will go a long way and is very cost-effective.
The bottom line? It doesn't have to be expensive for a gift to make a difference. It also doesn't have to come during the second week in May--teachers make a difference all year long! Whatever your choice, even if it's a simple email, please remember to thank your child's teacher for the difference she's made in your child's life. I'm betting you can remember at least one teacher who made a difference in yours.