The best gifts for teachers are gift cards to book stores or superstores like Target and Wal-mart. Teachers don't get paid much, and we are constantly spending our own money on things for our classrooms. Gift cards allow us to buy those things we need, either for our class or for ourselves. There have been times when I used gift cards my students gave me for things like groceries, because I spent so much of my money early in my career when I was already broke.
I, too, appreciate the notes of praise and thanks. (I have a file in my desk drawer where I collect them.) And I truely don't need/want anything else from my students. If, however, they want to give a small token of appreciation, make it edible. A little treat in the middle of the day is nice and never has to be carried home, dusted, re-gifted, etc. LOL
My favorite gifts have always been books, cards, pictures or notes that have to do with something a student learned in my class. Once I received a Christmas card with lines from Romeo and Juliet, and another time a student carved a piece of soap to look like me, like the children in To Kill a Mockingbird found in the knot in the tree. These were so dear to me because they show that the student cared and learned something!
it is irrelevant what the top ten gift items are for teachers. As a teacher in NYC public schools, we all received an email about accepting gifts from parents, courtesy of our mayor and school chancellor. It is generally frowned upon, and over a very small amount, illegal. Therefore, the only and best gift a teacher can get is when a student tells you years later about the impact you had on their lives and their future.
Handmade cards and whatnot from kids are always great. Otherwise, gift cards are the way to go, especially if they are for a department store with a wide variety of items. Some malls actually have all encompassing gift cards, which is great.
I love getting handwritten/hand created notes or cards from students. It's really nice knowing that they took the time to make something or write out a letter (even misspelled!) to me.
If it is something purchased, I believe that most teachers would appreciate gift cards to places like book stores, movie theaters, or target or walmart, where we can choose what we would like to get to pamper ourselves.
Here is the post on the eNotes blog. Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions!
My favorite gift is a visit from a former student. This is incredibly heart-warming for me. For a student to take the time to do this after having moved on in life is a powerful affirmation for me that what I do matters. Most of my classes are night classes, and former students stop by after working all day, to let me know how they're doing, to talk to the classes I am presently teaching, and to tell me how what I taught them is of use. That is a true gift for me.
Kiwi, you are not alone! I am personally obsessed with new stationery! I relish the thought of back-to-school shopping, if only for the new pens and notebooks and other office supplies that most people don't care about. I am the teaching equivalent of the Office Space worker who loves his red Swingline stapler. Board markers in rainbow colors is a personal favorite, but I also love the stamps ("Way to Go!" or "Please Correct and Return") and the penspenspensepenspens!
Agreeing with previous posters, the sincere notes of recognition are awesome. I previously worked in a TEFL week-long school replacement program in South Korea. At the end of every week, students would write postcards to their favorite teachers. I kept all the ones I received in a shoe box and their sincere attempts, sweet comments, and broken English still warm my heart whenever I open that box.
As others I love those words which say thanks - oral or written. BUT in my material world it is - stationery!! Pens pens pens pens. Coloured notepads, fancy staplers, highlighters, erasers - the list goes on. I still get gel pens as a Christmas present each year. The love of stationery is a very close second to the love of teaching. Or is it just me?
I agree with everyone else - definitely letters and e-mails from students and their families.
My ultimate gift was a pot-plant from my group of students - I drink a lot of tea, and often forget to finish a cup when I have a busy lesson. I felt bad about pouring tea in the bin, as I didn't want to upset the janitor, and I muttered something about needing a plant one day... turned out they were listening! I loved the thought they showed in getting this present for me.
I'm still hoping to get a "best teacher" mug... but it's early days for that yet! :)
I agree with many of the other posts--notes from students mean more than any other type of gift. I keep those notes/e-mails and read them again when I need to be reminded of why I teach.
Other than that, gift cards are my top choice!
Sometimes years after I have had a student in class, I'll get an email or a letter about how I have impacted them, and often times it's from a student I thought I missed or did not connect with. Sometimes they highlight things I did or said that I thought inconsequential at the time, and it reminds me that I do have an impact. And quite frankly, it makes up for a lot of lunkhead kids or irate/uninformed parents. I print all of them, and every note that is given to me. I have a box of them, and it's the best morale booster ever.
I'll take one of those over a material gift any day.
If I receive a gift card to a books store, I am always thrilled.
I had one student as a ninth grader who every year thereafter has brought me chocolate chip cookies her mom makes during the holidays even though I no longer have this student in class. The cookies are the best, and getting to see the student is a pleasure with or without snacks.
Over the last four years or so, I have my students draw/write "Post Secrets." If you have never read Postsecret.com, you should. Years ago Frank Warren started his project by giving out stamped and pre-addressed post cards to strangers asking them to write a secret they could not tell and mail it anonymously back to him. He has published several books. Some of the cards are loving, forgiving or life-affirming, while some are chilling. (It has been going on for six years now, I think...)
However, for my kids, I direct it to the age level (asking my high schoolers to keep it tame), and asked them to share their secrets: nothing inappropriate, and then I post them on the wall. (Kids from other classes, not my own, stop by between the bells to read the walls. We add more each marking period.) The cards are anonymous to everyone but me (as I use them for a few points extra credit at the end of the marking period: they put their student ID # and class period on the back).
The cards end up providing ideas for discussion and writing. Some of them are simple (still being afraid of the dark, or sleeping with a teddy bear). They also provide a sense of connection when students read a card about someone else's friend being mean or a parent moving out, when they are experiencing the same thing.
This past year, from the youngster of a fallen police officer, I received a book of Post Secrets on 4x6 index cards, placed in a photograph album. Some of the cards dealt with her loss, and some simply shared that she really liked vegetables, or that some kinds of noises annoy her.
Though it started as something for the kids, it became a something that I will always treasure: I can't spend it or eat it, but it is truly a gift that continues to give every time I open it, and I will always feel connected to that student.
I guess, as was shared earlier, the heartfelt, handmade gifts are the best gifts, and the connections we are able to make, the best rewards.
I still have all the cards I have received in my time as a teacher! They are very special to me and provide me with valuable pick-me-ups when the lows of the rollercoaster of teaching come my way. Apart from that a Kindle, or heah, since it is Christmas, why not an Ipad! Let's go wild!