Monday, September 19, 2011

Perfect teacher gift?

Somebody came up with this "amazing" idea... you take crayon boxes (possibly empty, to keep the weight down), glue sticks, notebooks, post-its, index cards and tie these things on round tins (empty) and toilet paper rolls with pretty ribbons, and then decorate with pens. This is supposed to be a "great teacher gift".

Now, a teacher gift is a sign of your appreciation to what a teacher does for your child. "Teachers often don't get paid a lot for the tremendous effort they do each day"... so a teacher's gift is sort of a tip, gratuity or bonus.

Think you're a teacher. You love your job, you love the kids, you love teaching... you're the best teacher there is. Every year there's a load of gifts waiting for you. Some fancy, some expensive, most of it school supplies, apples or owls, because that's what people think are "great teacher gifts!" You are sort of waiting for something good... something one of these kids made him/herself, thinking of you... Perhaps you realized early on that people are going to give you owls, and you like owls, so you collect them.
Now, you come to the class room and see this...

It's extremely flashy, not the least personal and you will find it hard to give the things on it to the kids, because there is "21 boxes of crayons, 14 glue sticks, 12 notebooks, 4 composition books and 10 packs of index cards". You can't use the composition books, because they have been glued to a cardboard piece to be the base. You can't really use the crayons either, because they too have been glued on a tin, so if you try to take them off, they'll rip. Also - the instructions tell you to empty the boxes for weight... so - that's just decoration. You can't use the tins or toilet paper, because those have been hotglued together. There are not enough notebooks for the whole glass, and... frankly, the only thing you can do with this crap is to use it as school supply themed decoration, and who would want this in their home? Or even in the class room or teachers' lounge? To take space and collect dust? Great teacher's gift? Oh dear!

Also... how are you going to deliver this monstrosity? The first one was created for a teachers' meeting of some sort and given to one of the teachers as door prize. She/he then divided the items to his class. I hope there were not more than 12 kids in the class. But - if you are going to let your child give it to the teacher in talk about show-off. Do you really want your child to be bullied, and for something that is 100% impersonal, and practically useless, and will be remembered as one of the worst things the teacher ever got? And believe me... THAT is how the teacher will see this.
And how do you think the poor kids will feel? Or the kids with parents who don't care?
Oh, this must be the WORST teacher gift ever!

But - I fear a lot of teachers are going to get one... 82 pins and 195 repins... Oh dear.

Go here and read a bit about what really is a great teacher's gift.

I would knit my teacher a pair of socks and add a card my child made him/herself. Or then I'd give a box of cookies, again with a child-made card. Or any of the "canned gifts", naturally with a child-made card.

What would be a truly great idea is Christmas tree ornaments - if the teacher celebrates Christmas. If not, find out what she/he celebrates and let the child create an ornament fit for that holiday. If the teacher celebrates no holidays, make an ornament of his/her initial. Those are always nice.

I really like these woven hearts - if you want, you can fill it with candy, or even school supplies :-D
I like these "pretend stained glass" thingies :-) If you let the child draw the teacher, to be used as the image in the middle, your teacher will love it.


Anonymous said...

Oh I quite agree. That atrocity might be fine as a centerpiece for a school fundraiser but even them what a waste of supplies!
As far as teacher gifts, that old standby, a handwritten note, or a cookie or even just a thankyou are among the best!

Anna said...

Not sure I understand. You say (without really saying it) that this is the worst teacher gift ever. And then you link to an article that talks about how teachers prefer the sentimental home-made things that someone took the time to think about or make (or swipe from their parents' dressers).

I'm about to make one of these "atrocity" of a gift for my son's 2nd grade teacher. I spent more than $75 on school supplies. Things I KNOW they need in the classroom. Sure, I could just put it in a pretty bag, slip a home-made card from my son with a note from myself and call it a day.

But instead, I'm going to take the time tonight, after a long day at work, running errands, doing household chores... have my son help me make this "not-so-great" gift that you speak of. And I will make a point that every single thing will be easy to remove and use (why anyone would glue things to a point you can't actually use it is beyond me), it'll look great and I will take the time to carry this monstrocity to my son's school in the morning. And I'm going to enjoy seeing her face light up, because someone took the time to create something for her.

I've given her everything from flowers, to home-baked brownies, to spa gift certificates, to personalized ornaments, to books/posters/wall supplies I've seen plastered all over the classroom. This time, I wanted to create something with my son that I know his teacher would appreciate more than a "bottle of inexpensive rum".

To each their own.

Ketutar said...


Firstly, thank you for commenting.

Secondly, you most certainly understand. You just disagree.

"You say (without really saying it) that this is the worst teacher gift ever."
Without really saying it? So "Oh, this must be the WORST teacher gift ever!" isn't really saying it... hmm...

Just look at your attitude.

"I spent more than..."
"I am going to take the time tonight, after a long day at work, running errands, doing household chores..."

So - you clearly see this as a sacrifice of some sort. Maybe that is why you are so hostile.

"Why anyone would glue things to a point you can't actually use it is beyond me".
It's beyond me too, but the original instructions tell you to hot-glue everything on place and empty the packages to make it lighter. And it is that I am criticizing here. (Your will, of course, be so much better, and the teacher will boast about it to all the others who will be green of envy, and... have you noticed that NO TEACHER says this is the best gift? It's only parents... prepared to spend a lot of money and time to create this. To me that says loud and clear "STATUS COMPETITION!!!"

Another thing, here in Scandinavia every school supply the kids need is given to them by the school. Teachers don't buy the kids' school supplies with their own money, the parents don't do it, the school provides every child everything they are going to need, from books and notebooks to pencils and crayons, and glue-sticks and everything else they are going to need. Which makes this gift totally useless.

"I've given her everything from flowers to home-baked brownies, to spa gift certificates, to personalized ornaments, to books, posters and wall supplies I've seen plastered all over the classroom"

How long has she been your children's teacher?

You do know that you can keep giving her flowers, home-baked/cooked goods and gift certificates? Just because you have given her brownies one year, doesn't mean you cannot give her brownies another year. Heck, if you are a good baker, I would love to get nothing but brownies or cookies or what ever it is you like to bake.

Frankly, Anna, it sounds to me that you have decided to spent money and time and give something that LOOKS like one has used a lot of money and time to make it, and be sure it's YOU who give the biggest and flashiest gift the teacher can get. Which part of this is for HER? Which part of this shows that you have thought about the person the teacher is? What do you know about her? What is her favorite color, does she like cats, does she have a family, is she allergic to something...? To me this is a very show-off and impersonal. You could give this to any teacher, keep the focus on that she is a teacher and nothing else, as far as you are concerned. Hundreds of teachers all over USA will be getting these, some have been a bit more considerate and seen that the things can be taken off and used, some follow the instructions and glue empty boxes on TP rolls.

Remember this, Anna, and in 10 years, ask her which of the gifts you have given her she liked best.
I bet she won't say "the school supply cake, absolutely."

P.S. If you focus on "inexpensive bottle of rum", "a half-bottle of perfume or cologne swiped from mom's dresser" and "a half-eaten package of candy", you miss the point with the article. But if you think this darn cake is "a great teacher's gift!" I suppose you won't be able to see the point.