Thursday, May 7, 2009

End of Year Teacher Gifts

I can't tell you how many times I've started to blog about a particular topic...and then stop...because I'm afraid I'll offend too many readers. Well, I'm throwing caution to the wind. I dubbed my blog "Reid It and Weep...Idol Thoughts and Other Rants and Raves" and today I'm living up to my subtitle and I'm going to rant like you read about.

Today's topic: end of year teacher gifts.

And so begins me rant....

Do parents really think that teachers want end of year tchotchkies? Because they don't. I'm not sure what a teacher does with one coffee mug that reads "World's Greatest Teacher", much less 22 of them. Do you know what teachers do with those picture frames that you give them? They take out the photo of your kid and they regift them. (and no, they don't save the photo of your kid). Think about it, teachers who have been teaching for years have been given, on average, 342 picture frames in the course of their career. And they have received enough charms to fill 50 charm bracelets. I'm just saying, the charm that you and your child picked out is neither unique or precious. And really, who besides your grandmother is sporting a charm bracelet? a teacher a craft made by your child is not a gift. In fact, it's a slap in the face. Despite what you think, your child's handiwork does not light up his teacher's life. The teacher has spent the last 10 months doing arts and crafts with your kid; what makes you think that personalized flowerpot pencils is a great way to show your appreciation? It isn't. Same goes with baked goods. Your child's teacher has seen where your kid's hands have been (ie: up his nose, in his pants, in the dirt, in the ear of the kid sitting next to him) thereby making it extremely difficult to snarf down cookies made by your wonder child. I don't care how many times he's washed his hands.

When my daughter was in 1st or 2nd grade, the room mother took up a collection in honor of the teacher and the teacher's assistant. Each parent donated cash, in whatever denomination they saw fit, and the room mother presented each of them a check from the whole class. Perfect. Cash...good. Not receiving tchotchkies...priceless. A novel idea. But we couldn't leave it at that....

The next year I received a note from the room mother informing me that we would also include the specials in this year's collection. The whattles? What are "the specials"? Turns out the specials are my child's other teachers, as in the librarian, the gym teacher, the Spanish teacher, the art teacher, the music teacher and the computer teacher. Whoa. How about the cafeteria lady and the nurse? Why are we excluding them? And, as you can imagine, this addition made things more complicated; we were asked for one donation, but it would be split amongst many teachers. What mathematical equation would be used to come up with who got what? You'd be surprised how much thought goes into this and how many people feel the need to give their two cents; figuratively, not literally. (And, um, I'm sorry, but the gym teacher was a cranky, pain in the ass who barely deserved a paycheck much less an end of year gift.) Apparently every person who has been blessed to be a part of your child's life....gets a token.

The end of year gift is presented to the lead teacher at the end of year party. And somewhere along the way some crazy, crafty mothers (with far too much time on their hands) (see, this is where I start offending people and losing readers....) decided that presenting a check or a gift card was tacky and simply not a grand enough gesture. So, they decided to give part of the money in the form of a gift card and skim some off of the top and buy an actual gift. So the teacher has something to open (because opening a card with a check in it is so awful?). The most clever of mothers come up with a theme. For example, a teacher might receive a beach bag with a beach towel and some sunscreen and some trashy summer reading.

Now, you might think that presenting a group gift would thus eliminate the need for tchotchies, but you'd be sadly mistaken. There are those who contribute to the class gift, but still feel the need to do a little something extra on their own. Because god forbid their kid doesn't stand out. Not to mention it's a great way for the mother to showcase her gift giving abilities. Which, I might add, is also on display during the Christmas gift giving season, teacher appreciation week, and of course the teacher's birthday. One gift per year is hardly enough.

But I've got an alternative to the end of year about instead of giving teachers a geranium or a scented candle or a t-shirt that reads, "If you can read this, thank a teacher" make an effort during the year.

How about if you make sure that your child's homework is done correctly and on time? How about if you teach him to take responsibility for his actions? How about if you keep your teaching ideas to yourself and let the teacher teach? How about if you send your child to school with an extra box of tissues during cold and flu season? How about if you get your child to bed on time so he isn't a cranky mess in the morning? How about if you send your child to school in clothes that meet the dress code? How about if you use the parent/teacher conference not as a way to tell the teacher how gifted your child is, but rather to listen to what the teacher has to say?

And last, but certainly not least, how about saying thank you once or twice during the year with your mouth instead of saying it at the end of the year with a tchotchkie?

The greatest gift you can give a teacher is a child who has learned good manners at home and comes to school ready to learn. That's all they want. Not a stinky bottle of cream that you picked up at Bath and Body Works.

And so ends my rant....


mariner-mike said...

Right on, Laurie! Nothing truer. I'm glad my kids have aged themselves out of that horror show.

Anonymous said...

Please please please, publish that in the Charlotte Observer.

Anonymous said...

Oh, so very true!!

When my children were in school, we only sent gifts at Christmas. (never knew when their birthdays were) Never sent gits at the end of the year. I always wrote a note of appreciation and let the teacher know what a great year it was.

Katie Ryan said...

I am cracking up! I always regift my gifts as gag gifts to the Lees. lol And I love getting notes of appreciation, those are what I save. Also a gift card for a pedicure never hurts either! lol