Christmas Gifts for Teachers

Gifts for TeachersMarc-Alain Savard, a teacher at Lawrence Grassi Middle School in Canmore, knew the holiday season was approaching when he found a six-pack of Corona on his desk last December.

Should Students Give Gifts To Teachers?

According to Graham White, spokesman for the Calgary Board of Education, "The practice of giving gifts to teachers of any kind is actively discouraged in our schools to the point where some schools have developed a no-gift policy. Teacher gift giving can compromise instructional objectivity and illustrate a stark separation between the "haves and have nots" amongst the students in a classroom." Jane Farrell, Media Relations Consultant with Edmonton Public Schools, says they have "no specific district policy" - they do not get into policies between parents and teachers about gift giving. Contact your child's school to inquire about their gift policy if you wish.

Coreen Kieser, a teacher with the Rocky View School Division, points out that teachers do not receive a Christmas bonus or get other perks. "Like everyone else, teachers just want a pat on the back, to be acknowledged for what they are doing. So a heartfelt thank-you card, especially one signed by the child, is greatly treasured."

If you choose to give a gift to your child's teacher, what is appropriate? Those extraordinary people spend five days a week with your children, show them how to expand their minds and teach them to be responsible. How can you show your appreciation?

Inappropriate Gifts for Teachers

It varies from teacher to teacher as to what gifts are inappropriate. Some think alcohol is a no-no while others appreciate wine or beer. A junior high teacher with the Calgary Board of Education who asked not to be named feels unsuitable gifts include, "Money (tacky), lingerie, and cigarettes. I remember once buying my teacher a box full of different kinds of cigarettes. He thought it was great but times have changed!" Marc-Alain Savard feels differently. "There is no gift that is not appropriate. A gift is a gift."

Gift Ideas for Teachers

What about donating to a charity in the name of your child's teacher? As Tanis Maxfield, a teacher at Ecole Elbow Valley Elementary School explains, "My best gift was a donation to a charity. Let's be honest - I am paid for this job and feel a little uncomfortable receiving gifts. I know the students enjoy giving them but if someone else who is more needy benefits, that is best in my mind."

Sometimes a group of parents from a class will get together to purchase a gift, buy one large gift certificate or organize a project. What is Marc-Alain Savard's favourite group gift? "One of my students was mentoring with a professional photographer and took a really nice black and white picture. It was in a large frame and all the students signed the frame around the picture."

Every educator interviewed for this article was in favour of gift certificates as holiday presents. Jeff Hammerich, a teacher at the Bearspaw School explains, "I think the most appropriate gifts for students to give their teachers are gift certificates. They are practical and reduce the amount of unusable things we sometimes get. It also reduces the amount of garbage produced - an envelope and a card. The best gifts I like are gift certificates to Mountain Equipment Co-op where I buy climbing or ski gear."

If you really want to get your child's teacher something special but it is not financially possible, rest assured. Most teachers treasure something homemade. Tanis Maxfield recalled, "One year I had a child from a family encountering financial hardships who really wanted to share something with me. I told him to go home and make me something like a card or write me a story. The next day he brought me the most detailed drawing of his favourite time at school with me. I still have it." Jeff Hammerich said, "A memorable gift I received was a card that a student made me. It was a "Top Ten List of Why Mr. Hammerich Rocks." Wow - I was blown away by that." Have your child write a letter telling their teacher the reasons they like or respect them. You can put the letter in a box and wrap it up like a present. The gift of gratitude is always appropriate.

Do You Need to Give Gifts to All the Staff?

Do you need to give a gift to the school principal, vice-principal, lunchroom monitor, custodian, sports coaches, teaching assistants, bus drivers, counsellors, librarians and office receptionists, among others? Principal John Beaton at the W.P. Wagner School in Edmonton said, "To my knowledge none of the staff members mentioned (himself, the three assistant principals and the custodial and office staff) receive gifts." If you feel someone needs a special thank-you, a card or a small gift is suitable and will be appreciated.

The most important requisite for holiday gifts is to choose something with the teacher in mind. Tanis Maxfield loved receiving a 4-week diaper service. Jeff Hammerich was given a skateboard on which his students showed him some tricks. Marc-Alain Savard loves ski passes, something not everyone would enjoy.

Put some thought into what the teacher would like, not what you would like to give the teacher, and the gift will be perfect.

More Gift Ideas for Teachers

Here's a few more ideas for gifts teachers have received and appreciated:

Gift certificates for movie rentals with a box of popcorn or candy attached.A coupon for the teacher stating your child will bring the teacher lunch on a prearranged day in January.Packets of thank-you notes.Mail a letter to the school principal praising the teacher and give a copy to the teacher.A disposable camera and an IOU for processing.A piece of equipment or a stack of books for the classroom.Ask the teacher if he or she needs any school supplies.Happy gift giving!!

Interviews with Marc-Alain Savard, Graham White, Jane Farrell, and the unnamed junior high teacher were done by telephone in October 2007.

Interviews with John Beaton and Tanis Maxfield were done by email in October 2007.

Interviews with Corren Kieser and Jeff Hammerich were conducted in person in October 2007.

For gift ideas that are easy on the wallet, check out:

Free (Or Almost Free) Gifts to Give Teachers for Christmas

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