Yes, it is that time of year when my wife shops for the teachers of three of our children. It’s not that she doesn’t like our fourth child. The girl is just too old. There seems to be an unwritten rule that once your child reaches junior high school; gifts for teachers are no longer needed. Sympathy cards seem more appropriate to adults who willingly subject themselves to the moodiness of teenagers.
Nevertheless, I have been fortunate enough to receive a few presents over the years. And as the Trojans learned to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, I am cautious when students give me baked goods without a list of ingredients.
During the past twenty-three years I have been given some really good gifts, though.
Being a graduate of The Ohio State University and fan of their sports teams, I have been given T-shirts, buttons, book marks, socks, and my favorite, a wolverine hunting license. On the other hand, sixteen years ago, one malicious student gave me a M!#H&$@n shirt. He still wonders why he is in my class, again.
I also enjoy teaching mythology and use many allusions in my writing, speech, and teachings. Over the years I have been given a few books on mythology that I keep in my classroom. This gift idea allows my future students the opportunity to research, learn, and giggle uncontrollably when they look at the nude gods, goddesses, and heroes or read about Zeus and realize he had more affairs than a Presidential candidate. Gifts for my classroom are always welcome and they benefit so many.
I always put a thought of the day, not an inspirational quote, on my board. For example, “Why are actors IN a movie but ON TV?” Or, “If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?” Sometimes students laugh; sometimes they don’t. Some kids think I have a sense of humor; some kids tell me not to quit my day job. It doesn’t seem to matter which opinion a student has because I have been given joke books from kids who think I am funny and from kids who have no sense of humor. Either way, I get to laugh.
To be candid, I am not a great shopper. Ask my wife. She usually returns half of the stuff I buy her. I would like to just give her gift cards; oh wait, I did: a visa, a master card, and a discover card. However, that takes the fun out of the holidays for her. She says the fun is opening gifts. I think she really enjoys the thought of me walking around a mall with a lost-child-look on my face, trying to figure out what clothes she would like, and guessing what size would fit her because women’s clothing sizes vary. And, she makes me take the kids, so she has a quiet afternoon – the true gift. But I digress. A good gift for a teacher would be a gift card. Many teachers use their own money to buy things for the class room or the students. A gift card shows appreciation and allows the teacher to treat himself or herself.
Lastly, I appreciate a card or note. Too often communication between a high school teacher and a parent is minimal. When it does happen, it usually is about a concern or problem. So, a little note with some personal information about the student helps build the relationship to effectively teach the child.