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Gifts from studentsIt's that time of year again. Like the famous scene in "A...

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 12:33 PM via web

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Gifts from students

It's that time of year again. Like the famous scene in "A Christmas Story," we all have one or two "Ralphies" that bring in an overindulgent gift, even if they're just being nice and not striving to "bribe" the teacher.

Here's the question: Where do you draw the line at student gifts? Is there a price limit? Do you not accept them at all? How do you handle it when one wealthy student provides you with an expensive present, when your poorest students won't even have a Christmas to speak of?

Most recently, one of my boys came in after hours and presented me with a pen and pencil set. The token looked to be about $10 in price, and I kindly said thank you, Merry Christmas, and accepted the gift with no further questions asked. If, however, the pen had been a Waterman or even a Cross pen and pencil set, I might have had reservations. Where do you stand?

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 12:48 PM (Answer #2)

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Your kids must really love you. I don't usually get gifts from my students. I do get cards and cookies and homemade candy. My school is in a lower-income community, so getting expensive gifts really isn't much of an issue anyway.

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marycatherinecarnes | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 8, 2008 at 1:00 PM (Answer #3)

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I never really pay attention to who gives gifts and who doesn't.  I always send a thank you note and am very appreciative, but if I think too hard about it I start to wonder if it is truly a gift from the heart, or one trying to get in my good graces.  I have gotten some truly spectacular gifts from people I do extra work with, and some from people just in my class. I also have not gotten gifts from people that actually told me they were giving a gift. My best advice is just to let it  all roll off you back.

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slchanmo1885 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 1:29 PM (Answer #4)

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When I was teaching third grade I had a policy of home-made gifts only, and would receive things like Christmas cookies and baked goods, clay ornaments made by the kids, etc. If you're worried about children purchasing expensive gifts and crossing the line, you could always instate a policy of home made gifts or even ask that they donate to a charity in lieu of gifts.

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 2:34 PM (Answer #5)

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You are lucky. I teach at a private school where most of the students come from very wealthy families. I have only received one gift ever, a $10 Starbucks gift-card. I don't think that I would have any difficulty accepting gifts from my students, but I don't expect to receive any.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 3:51 PM (Answer #6)

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I would accept the gifts with a "thank you" and not worry about it, honestly.  I understand your concerns, but I would honestly accept the gifts and not feel "guilty" about it. :)  You obviously are liked by your students, which is awesome!  Some schools and colleges have policies about accepting gifts of any kind, whether from students or from the community. At my college, instructors are not supposed to accept gifts of ANY kind from students. 

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 7:20 PM (Answer #7)

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The main thing I would add is please do not open them as a class function, in front of all the kids.  It is one more stratifying event. The kids don't buy them, the parents do, and I've seen some children look very sad because they didn't bring anything, and other kids' families can afford to be generous.

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sostrowski | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 8, 2008 at 7:43 PM (Answer #8)

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I teach in a very low-income school, where any gift I receive is usually something small.  However, my mom teaches in a private school and receives extremely large gifts, for example $75 gift certificates to restaurants and the like.  I think no matter what you get from your students or how much it costs, the best thing is simply to accept it and be extremely greatful, whether it be a $5 notepad and pencil or a $75 gift certificate.  However, I do think that the best way to deal with any kind of gift is simply to accept it and say thank you when it is received, but to not open and spend time looking at gifts until you get home.  That way, no student needs to feel bad about giving you a smaller gift, or not giving one at all if they couldn't afford it.  I usually write thank you notes once I am home and have looked at my presents to give to the students after the holidays.  That way, everyone gets thanked, but nobody feels bad.

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Jen Sambdman | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted December 9, 2008 at 8:04 AM (Answer #9)

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I teach in a middle-class school out in "the sticks" as it were. I LOVE it when my kids draw me something and proudly display them on my "filing cabinet of awesomeness and potential Monet's". I have had kids bring in cookies, candies and the like and now my waist-line is paying for it, but it is my personal belief that if I was to NOT accept a gift, it would hurt my kids' feelings. They obviously thought enough of me to either make or purchase something they think I like, or had their parents pick something up.

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cburr | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted December 9, 2008 at 9:30 PM (Answer #10)

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I agree with #9 that not accepting a gift would be worst of all, at least if you decline to the kid.  I've received every level of gift over the years, and some years it has bothered me.  One thing I tried which worked well was to send a letter out as Holiday time approached, mentioning that if they were inclined to give a gift, what I'd appreciate most is something for the classroom.  You can include a wish list that includes things they might have at home at be able to donate, inexpensive items to buy, decorative items the kids could make, and even one or two more expensive items that would really make a difference in your program.  That way they can even get a deduction.

NOTE: If you do this and you are a private school, be sure to let whoever handles donations know so they can send a tax letter for anything with more than token value. 

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engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 9:49 AM (Answer #11)

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Just had to add a quick update: One of my other students came in early this morning and presented me with a Starbucks gift selection. It had about six different kinds of coffee and all kinds of nuts and treats in it. The student knew that I am a pretty big coffee drinker, and his family is one of our school's more affluent. I graciously thanked him for it, taking special consideration to point out exactly what was great about it. Next question: If a gift exceeds a certain dollar amount, do you think it is necessary, or just appropriate, to write a thank-you note to the responsible party? For that matter, is there ever a "wrong" time to write a quick note of gratitude?

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cybil | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 10:41 AM (Answer #12)

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Just had to add a quick update: One of my other students came in early this morning and presented me with a Starbucks gift selection. It had about six different kinds of coffee and all kinds of nuts and treats in it. The student knew that I am a pretty big coffee drinker, and his family is one of our school's more affluent. I graciously thanked him for it, taking special consideration to point out exactly what was great about it. Next question: If a gift exceeds a certain dollar amount, do you think it is necessary, or just appropriate, to write a thank-you note to the responsible party? For that matter, is there ever a "wrong" time to write a quick note of gratitude?

Always write a thank-you note. People are pleased to know that the recipient liked the gift, and they are typically touched that the person took the time to write a note, particularly in a time when so much communication is done electronically. Regardless of the size of the gift, someone has remembered us, and we should be grateful for their thoughtfulness and kindness. In my case, I have to write the notes as soon as possible, or I'll forget---even if I make a list!

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted December 18, 2008 at 11:49 AM (Answer #13)

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Just had to add a quick update: One of my other students came in early this morning and presented me with a Starbucks gift selection. It had about six different kinds of coffee and all kinds of nuts and treats in it. The student knew that I am a pretty big coffee drinker, and his family is one of our school's more affluent. I graciously thanked him for it, taking special consideration to point out exactly what was great about it. Next question: If a gift exceeds a certain dollar amount, do you think it is necessary, or just appropriate, to write a thank-you note to the responsible party? For that matter, is there ever a "wrong" time to write a quick note of gratitude?

I don't often get gifts from students, but when I do I always write a thank-you note regardless of how expensive the gift looks. It sets a good example for the student and makes him or her feel respected and appreciated.

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alohaspirit | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted December 21, 2008 at 12:26 PM (Answer #14)

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I teach in a low income school too, so gifts are usually candy and cards. But I would not think much about it, they want to do this and I am sure the parents paid for it so they are ok with it.  I think if you were to set up a no gift policy or not accept one that actually can ruin your relationships with your students.  Many children look up to their teachers and they want to show them their graditude, so enjoy!

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litchick2011 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted January 30, 2009 at 5:36 PM (Answer #15)

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I would have difficulty not accepting and appreciating a gift my students gave me. Granted, I have not had much more than small trinkets, like Christmas ornaments, or cards and things like that.  I would accept the gift in the spirit that it is given.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 25, 2009 at 7:05 PM (Answer #16)

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I agree with "lynn30k," accept all gifts lovingly and kindly, but NEVER open them as a class function.  If the student begins to approach you with a gift with other students present, perhaps you could suggest a better time for his or her well-wishes.  My first teaching experience was in an inner-city high school and the most precious gift I ever received was a half-eaten piece of cake, . . . because that was all this poor teen had to give me.  (She was given the piece of cake as a present, herself.)  With this in mind, continue accepting gifts in order to experience some of these unforeseen and unbelievable rewards of teaching.

Noelle Thompson

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mlarzelere | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 24, 2009 at 5:31 PM (Answer #17)

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Ever since my first year of teaching I have recieved gifts from students. Even when I taught in a high school special education class I received some gifts from students, which was very unusual to say the least. Nothing inappropriate, mostly boxes of chocolate. I have received gifts ranging from home made ceramics to $30.00 gift cards to places like Barnes & Noble. Over the years, and I have a lot of them, I have found that students, even if they do not have a gift, want me to open the gifts in front of them in class. I think the curiousity to see what I got is a very powerful motivation. The one thing I have always done is make sure I buy a gift for the classroom. I usually ask what games they like or I will listen in on conversations and get clues. Then I buy the game. I will spend anywheres from $30.00 to $50.00 for Christmas presents for the classroom. I think this is another reason why students do not feel bad about not giving a present to me. I make sure my present is for the class and everybody can share in it.

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mlarzelere | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 24, 2009 at 5:36 PM (Answer #18)

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I agree with "lynn30k," accept all gifts lovingly and kindly, but NEVER open them as a class function.  If the student begins to approach you with a gift with other students present, perhaps you could suggest a better time for his or her well-wishes.  My first teaching experience was in an inner-city high school and the most precious gift I ever received was a half-eaten piece of cake, . . . because that was all this poor teen had to give me.  (She was given the piece of cake as a present, herself.)  With this in mind, continue accepting gifts in order to experience some of these unforeseen and unbelievable rewards of teaching.

Your post about getting a half eaten piece of cake reminded me of the time I too received a piece of cake. although it was not half eaten, I could tell it was home made, and not from a box. That in itself made it that much more special.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 24, 2009 at 7:13 PM (Answer #19)

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I have obviously been lucky in that I have always received gifts from students even having taught in a range of schools. I try to make sure the student and the family are thanked for the gift to ensure that all is above board. I was warned against accepting 'small valuable gifts' at my first school as there had been an incident of thefts.  I was touched to receive a pen from my class who announced 'We had it engraved so you know we didn't steal it'. I think it is good to allow students to show their appreciation in whatever form, and I respond as positively to a home-made gift, a valuable gift or even just a 'thanks miss'. All are equally precious to me.

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loubookhistory | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 24, 2009 at 7:50 PM (Answer #20)

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I never was one for gifts as I always felt that it could become a competition of who gave the teacher the best one which usually meant most expensive in the students’ eyes  I always opened my presents in private and then wrote the student a thank you note. The one gift I treasured and after 30 years still have was an empty Avon perfume bottle in the shape of a teddy bear given by a 5 year old who came from and had nothing  The last I heard of him was mid year when we got a call from his step-mother. Joey’s mother had gotten in trouble on the NJ pike and so he ended up going to his father who hadn’t seen him from birth and was not even aware he was a special needs student

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iteachearlyedu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 29, 2009 at 1:45 AM (Answer #21)

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When I was teaching third grade I had a policy of home-made gifts only, and would receive things like Christmas cookies and baked goods, clay ornaments made by the kids, etc. If you're worried about children purchasing expensive gifts and crossing the line, you could always instate a policy of home made gifts or even ask that they donate to a charity in lieu of gifts.

 

I think that's a really great way to set the limit with out really saying anything directly.  But this probably only works with kids up to third grade or so.

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iteachearlyedu | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 29, 2009 at 1:49 AM (Answer #22)

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I think it depends on the age level of the kids that you work/teach with.  I work with pre school and i get a few gifts from kids here and there at the end of the year.  Mostly it's home made things or like a thank you card for being a role model for my child and a photo of the child.  It doesn't have to have a cash value on something, as long as you say thank you and you show the child that you apreciate what they gave you;  they will be happy and it will make them happy.

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oceanberm | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted January 1, 2010 at 9:01 AM (Answer #23)

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Certainly the most priceless gift of a student is providing you the opportunity to touch their lives in a positive manner.  I have received many tactile gifts over the summation of 29 years for which I cherish.  In fact I framed several pictures and they are hanging in my home.  Teaching 7-12 grades I have come to learn that the best prizes I have ever been awarded were appreciation letters from past students.  Generally for purchases gifts, my students have presented them to me individually in a quiet manner. 

Perhaps if your students are feeling pressured to impress, you could speak with your parent volunteer and ask that they come in one day  and speak with the students about "gifts".  She/he could help to present an activity of a surprise "booklet making" to the students.  Each child could then write a note of appreciation and/or draw a picture for you.  The volunteer could then bind it for the children to present to you at the end of the year.  This way everyone participates, the activity is an application of their writing/drawing skills and you will be amazed. 

Best wishes!

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mjfish | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2010 at 4:45 AM (Answer #24)

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I agree with #9 that not accepting a gift would be worst of all, at least if you decline to the kid.  I've received every level of gift over the years, and some years it has bothered me.  One thing I tried which worked well was to send a letter out as Holiday time approached, mentioning that if they were inclined to give a gift, what I'd appreciate most is something for the classroom.  You can include a wish list that includes things they might have at home at be able to donate, inexpensive items to buy, decorative items the kids could make, and even one or two more expensive items that would really make a difference in your program.  That way they can even get a deduction.

NOTE: If you do this and you are a private school, be sure to let whoever handles donations know so they can send a tax letter for anything with more than token value. 

  Going off your idea, I have also requested that if they feel inclined to bring something, that they could purchase an inexpensive game for the classroom.  Our indoor recess games sometimes need a replacement.  Pieces get lost, boards break in half, etc. 

This year I requested that students, instead of gifts, to donate one hour of time to a community service organization.  In return, I gave them extra credit in Social Studies if they bring me some proof participation from the organization.  I tell them of the Salvation Army's efforts to help my father as a child during the depression feeding and clothing him.  I tell them that giving their short amount of time CAN make a difference.  This year I had students work at a soup kitchen, food pantry, Goodwill, and ring the bell.  They all reported to us of the great feeling they got from participating!

I think a child would feel hurt if someone declined their gift. 

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hoffmaker | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2010 at 5:07 AM (Answer #25)

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Gifts from students

It's that time of year again. Like the famous scene in "A Christmas Story," we all have one or two "Ralphies" that bring in an overindulgent gift, even if they're just being nice and not striving to "bribe" the teacher.

Here's the question: Where do you draw the line at student gifts? Is there a price limit? Do you not accept them at all? How do you handle it when one wealthy student provides you with an expensive present, when your poorest students won't even have a Christmas to speak of?

Most recently, one of my boys came in after hours and presented me with a pen and pencil set. The token looked to be about $10 in price, and I kindly said thank you, Merry Christmas, and accepted the gift with no further questions asked. If, however, the pen had been a Waterman or even a Cross pen and pencil set, I might have had reservations. Where do you stand?

I've accepted any and all presents. Some I don't even know who gave them to me as they send it to the office to be delivered to my teacher mailbox.  I have gotten a $100 to Safeway, but to this day I don't know if it was a colleague or a student.  I'd like to think it was a colleague as they were the only ones who knew I was struggling financially at the time.

Most of the time I tell my students that I would rather have items for my classroom.  Pencils, boxes of tissue than anything else.  I tell them that this way they can still share in the present.

I even had a student bring in a bag of dum-dum pops (sack of 500).  I shared it with their class and then used the rest as incentives to answer questions at the board. You'd be amazed how candy will get them to answer a question.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 1:45 PM (Answer #28)

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Interesting responses. I guess I accept all gifts but do not make a big thing of it at all and just try to avoid attention to it. It is very hard not to accept gifts as you are obviously in danger of offending the student and their family, and at the same time I think we as teachers deserve every gift we can get! I definitely would refuse any gift though if it was clear that there were strings attached. I have never received an expensive gift however - maybe I am just not a good enough teacher :-)

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kellyeller | Middle School Teacher | eNoter

Posted February 15, 2011 at 10:49 AM (Answer #29)

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A gift is a gift is a gift.  I receive them all graciously, regardless of the content.  They all come from the heart.  :-)

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drahmad1989 | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted May 23, 2012 at 7:19 PM (Answer #30)

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Teacher is like father so he can accept any gift and can return some thing else even of more cost if he can afford

 

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