Monday, November 22, 2010

Win-win teacher gifts!

This year, as in past years, I am begging my family to go easy on the gifts for the kids.  They don't need anything and are hard-pressed to come up with things they even want.  We have put an end to birthday party gifts for my kids and when we give out loot bags at their parties, it's usually one item, like a book or drawing kit.

For Bart’s birthday party, we wrote on the invitation: “In lieu of a gift for the birthday boy, please bring a contribution to the ABC School outdoor play bin.” Kids brought balls, Frisbees, skipping ropes, bubbles, sidewalk chalk and all kinds of great items that they then had the opportunity to play with at school.

For Maggie’s birthday, instead of sending in cupcakes for the class (which is now frowned upon due to a healthy schools initiative), Maggie picked out 5 books to donate to the classroom.

Lisa’s birthday is coming up and she’s trying to decide what kinds of donations she will ask from her friends.  Because it's near Christmas, we may adopt a local family in need and ask for gifts for the family.

These are all win-win-win initiatives. The kids feel really special making these donations. We don’t continue to fill up our house with toys that are rarely touched. The recipients of the donations are always grateful and appreciative.

Have you read Swistle’s latest teacher gifts posts? I get miffed every time I read one of these and a few (certainly not all) teachers chime in that a gift card and cash are more appreciated than the #1 Teacher Mugs, the baked goods (which are often tossed) and the little (useless) trinkets.

In Swistles’ post, someone was asking a question about whether or not she should contribute $35 so the class could present a ‘better’ class gift for Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Week and end of year. If I were a teacher I. WOULD. DIE a thousand deaths if I knew the families in my class were being asked to spend $35 on personal gifts for me. DIE!

I wrote this in my comment on Swistle’s post, but I’m going to repeat it here. I think teachers should take the lead and reject the notion of personal gifts in favour of classroom gifts. Teachers won’t get anymore crap they neither want nor need; parents and kids get to pick out something they know will be used and appreciated.

Here’s what the teacher should say:

As we approach the holiday season (/Teacher Appreciation Week/the end of the school year), I would like to thank you for the support you have given me and ABC School so far this year. Your participation in fundraisers, Scholastic orders and in providing classroom supplies is very much appreciated. I know many of you will feel obliged to purchase a “teacher gift” and I want to free you of this obligation. I know budgets are tight and I certainly don’t need anything personally. If you are still inclined to purchase a gift, may I suggest something that can be enjoyed by everyone in the class? Perhaps a copy of your child’s favourite book, some glitter glue for the creative centre or skipping ropes for the playground? It is truly a pleasure teaching your children and that is more than enough reward for me.

The best teacher ever :-)

Seriously, teachers, it’s win-win and you can make it happen.


Pickles and Dimes said...

I absolutely love that you have kids bring toys/books to donate for your kids' birthdays. What a great idea!

And that teacher letter is perfect.

Tiffany said...

I totally agree - something for the classroom would be a great idea! I also agree that if I was the teacher and I knew that there was a "collection" I'd be horribly embarrassed.

My kids too, get way too much. Last summer my three kids each got gifts for their birthdays, and on top of that, many of the relatives bought each kid a present at each birthday, so they wouldn't feel left out. It's ridiculous.

Jess said...

I love both of these ideas so, so much.

Misty said...

See, this is a wonderful idea and shows you are a lovely person.

Badness Jones said...

Hear hear! I love what my kids' school has done about teacher gifts at Christmas the last few years - They've sent home a note requesting that in lieu of a teacher gift, each child bring in $1. Each class 'adopts' a senior at the nursing home in town (actually beside the school) who wouldn't normally receive any/many visitors or gifts, and they all make cards or letters for that person, and the teacher uses the money they bring in to buy a gift for the senior from the class. It makes me happy just thinking about it.

Amreen said...

Great post! You are teaching your kids great lessons about giving back, and I am going to implement some of your strategies with my own family. it's all become too, too excessive and it feels impossible to stop the all-consuming commercialism that seems to drive our kids' birthdays and holiday.

Sarah said...

Wow, good for you for sharing two wonderful ideas! This is my first year of having a kid who has teachers, and I am panicking a bit about what is appropriate, what is commonly done, for preschool teachers in general and at this school specifically. Sadly there is no PTA or anything like that to guide me. Guess I'll just go with my gut on it! Which means giving what I personally would enjoy, and wouldn't be embarrassed to have someone spend on me, I guess.

Tessa said...

Hello! I love your wording in your example letter. Would you mind if I used some of your sentences in a letter to my parents? It is just so eloquently written! Thank you!