Teacher Gifts 2021: Include a handwritten note

I’ve been helping out a lot in my kids’ schools since we stopped homeschooling forever ago, and I’ve seen the entire gamut of teacher personalities: From having their world revolve around their students to having a chip on their wizened shoulders about everything and only showing up to do the absolute minimum with a scowl on their face. I started substitute teaching last school year, and I’ve really seen what’s going on in my kids’ schools as a result, rather than just the professional face you get to see at conferences and school functions.

And oh my goodness, my kids’ teachers deserve some gifts this year. (They really deserved them last year, too; but I was in abject survival mode at that time and the thought didn’t even cross my mind. We’re all doing the best we can in the moment.)

Teachers are tired, man. Kids are stressed, depressed, they can’t stop looking at their phones for more than two freakin’ minutes, and can’t stop spewing their parents’ opinions about masks and vaccines if the shadow of an opportunity presents itself, which it often does because there’s still a lot of “Masks up, please!” reminders happening throughout the day. Parents are stressed and depressed, and super prone to flipping out and shifting the blame of their kids’ poor behavior choices onto the schools. It is absolutely insane right now.

To the teachers who are smiles and sunshine and there for the kids: I don’t know how you’re doing it, and THANK YOU SO MUCH because it has made a difference in my children’s lives to have your enthusiasm and optimism shining in their lives these past two years. I hope you’re finding healthy ways to cope with all this stress so you can keep up with the cheerfulness.

To the teachers who hate their lives right now: Wow, I totally get it. It is rough out there, and you are being asked to do a lot of hard things and it makes sense that it feels hard…because it is abso-freakin’-lutely HARD right now. I hope you’re able to find some way to release the stress and frustration that has been heaped upon you in recent years. I hope things start feeling better soon.

With all that in mind, I’ve got a hankering to spread a little cheer to the people who have been showing up for my kids via Zoom and from behind their masks after wiping down desks between classes, because I am so thankful that they’ve kept pushing through the difficulties of the situation and kept showing up, regardless of how they felt about it all. I do not take their presence in my kids’ lives for granted at all after these last two years.

So I’m trying to come up with an easy idea for teacher gifts this year because all my kids are now in high school and middle school, and 4 kids X 6 teachers = 24 teachers, which is a lot of teacher gifts, plus gifts for music lesson teachers, club teachers…it’s a very large list.

Whatever I come up with, I am going to insist that my kids each write a note to their teachers, personally thanking them. In all my subbing this past year, the one thing I’ve noticed that almost all the teachers have in common is that they keep those notes. They’re usually tacked up on a wall, but sometimes arranged on the inside of a cupboard door, or secretly taped to the inside of their desk drawer. One teacher had a well-thumbed stack of thank-you notes wrapped in a rubber band, with the note on top dated 2012. Quite a few teachers have printed off emails from students expressing gratitude. Those notes matter a lot to them.

And maybe I don’t get around to including a physical gift to go with the notes, because things are still a little crazy at the moment, but I can make sure my kids take a little time in the next few weeks to write a few sentences to their teachers.

And *I* can also write a handful of thank you notes to let these persevering souls know how especially thankful I’ve been for them these past two years. It’s been a long journey together and I haven’t expressed my gratitude nearly as much I should have.

What do you think?

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