InClass

Tis the season for gift giving. Here’s our fool-proof  guide to gifts for teachers, written by a teacher. This may make me a terrible person, but I’ll admit it. There are only so many batches of questionable homemade cookies and #1 Teacher mugs that an educator should have to take. And while, yes,

Dec 22, 2015

Tis the season for gift giving. Here’s our fool-proof  guide to gifts for teachers, written by a teacher.



This may make me a terrible person, but I’ll admit it. There are only so many batches of questionable homemade cookies and #1 Teacher mugs that an educator should have to take. And while, yes, of course, it is most definitely the thought that counts, a tiny (or maybe not so tiny) part of me wishes that someone would get the word out to parents and students about what teachers really want when it comes to holiday gifts.

Of course we don’t expect gifts, but the holiday season can be a great excuse to drop a little something on a teacher’s (or colleague’s!) desk. December is an especially stressful month for many educators, full of testing and benchmarking and extra grading under tight deadlines. A thinking-of-you present can be the perfect pick me up. Here are our top ten smile-inducing teacher gifts.

  1. Fun school supplies. When in gift-giving doubt, go with functionality. Post-it notes in neat colors, stickers, or fancy markers make our day. I know, it’s weird.

  2. Gift cards for the classroom. I know, I know — many will say that gift cards are impersonal, but I’ll argue against that notion, at least when it comes to teachers. It’s well known that Arizona’s educators spend lots of funds from their own pockets on their classrooms, and gift cards to retailers like Target or the dollar store help us get those little extras for the classroom.

  3. Got a techy teacher? Subscriptions to online education resources and even the smallest of gadgets (think of pitching in with a group) can be a great addition to the classroom. Does your student’s class use iPads? iTunes and Google Play giftcards are fabulous. Check out this list of affordable tech gifts for every teacher.

  4. Coffee or lunch. What can I say, grading essays makes us hungry. A certificate or card to Starbucks, Paradise Bakery, or a sandwich shop near campus will not go forgotten.

  5. In lieu of spending money, try volunteering for an hour or so. Making copies, cleaning or organizing, or supervising student groups can be the best gift of all.

  6. A from-the-heart letter. From the parent or student, this is probably my favorite gift of all. I save each and every one of them in a special folder and pull them out when I’m having a rough day.

  7. Books for the class library. This works great at any grade level. Not sure which page-turner would be best? A card for a bookstore like Barnes and Noble or Bookmans Entertainment Exchange is always a winner.


Ready for more helpful tidbits? Avoid gifts that teachers really don’t want. A little advice? Skip knick-knacks (unless you know the teacher will love it), lotions, homemade foods, candles or anything covered in apples. Also, if your kiddo is old enough, have them do some snooping and figure out his teacher’s favorite things. We all tend to have our shticks, whether it’s Mr. Chen’s obsession with JFK or Miss Wilhite’s love for all things owl. Challenge your kids to find out what their teachers love — chances are, they’ll already know. One last thing: If your student is in middle or high school, has special education services, or attends “special” classes like music or art, keep in mind that these teacher(s) are often overlooked — that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. A note or gift will be a big surprise and definitely appreciated.

Spread the holiday cheer — and this list — and we’ll be on our way to making our teachers’ holiday merry and bright.

Want more ideas? We've got you covered!

Heather Sparks is a writer, educator, and mom of two. An Arizona native, she holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in gifted education from Arizona State University.

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