Teacher Thank You Etiquette

Written by Sara Mooradian. Posted in Family + Parenting

It's that time of year again, the last few days of school before summer vacation.  Time to start thinking about how you want to show your appreciation for the educators who inspired your children this year.

Creative ideas by lisastorms.typepad.com. Photocredit lisastorms.typepad.com.

It's that time of year again, the last few days of school before summer vacation. The kids can sense it as the warmer weather teases them with glimpses of lazy days right around the corner.  Teachers can sense it too - fidgety students with shortened attention spans. For the past 180 days, these teachers have dedicated their days to lesson plans, special assignments and one-on-one instruction: that is what makes the Lamorinda schools the best in the state and the country.  So, what's the best way to thank teachers for their commitment to our children?

What about the administrators, librarians and teacher aides who help run the school? California ranks 46th in administrators per pupil ratio, clearly these folks are doing more with less and should be acknowledged. And don't forget the school principals! They manage the teachers and staff, liaise with the PTAs, parent groups and the School District. The list of people who help make Lamorinda schools the best in the state is long; should parents thank them all?

Thank you's and gifts are never mandatory but they are always very much appreciated. It does not need to be expensive or grand, but a thank you must always be sincere and heartfelt.  Whoever you feel has contributed to your child's positive experience during this past school year would love to know that you value their contributions.  A personal thank you note is always appropriate, and in some cases, where a more personal connection was made, a small token of gratitude is fitting, too.

Whenever you know the teacher's taste or hobbies you can personalize your gift. That extra attention to detail will not go unnoticed.  But whatever you decide to give, teachers everywhere want parents to know that they do not need another mug or tote bag that says "World's Greatest Teacher" or anything with apples on it for that matter.  Please avoid those.

Once seen as impersonal, today gift cards are the end of the year gifts of choice by most.  Gift cards represent unrestricted indulgence for the recipient and parents prefer them as they know they will be used towards something that the teacher really wants. Often parents will pool together to give a gift card from the class with everyone donating between $5 and sometimes even as much as $100.  It's all voluntary and it can add up to quite a nice gift.  

Maybe your teacher would love a manicure or pedicure, or a maybe a new electronic device, the truth is you don't really know and maybe they'd rather not say.  A gift card allows teachers to pick out whatever they want and whenever they want. Although in some cases, teachers end up spending that extra cash back on their students! On average teachers spend about $356 of their own money on supplies and resources each year.  Either way, it's guaranteed to be much appreciated.

Looking to strike a different chord?  Consider any of these gift ideas:  

Gifts for Teachers with a Green Thumb

Buy a small terracotta planter or tin from the garden store and add some flower seed packets, a pair of gardening gloves and maybe a new pair of pruning shears. Tie a colorful ribbon around the planter and make a tag that says "Teachers plant the seeds of knowledge that will grow forever!"

Gifts for Teachers Who Love to Cook

As you will likely never see the inside of your teacher's kitchen it will be tricky to know exactly what they need to feed their culinary passion. One safe bet and a gift that is sure to be used is a small collection of cooking herbs for the teacher's kitchen windowsill.  Basil, rosemary, oregano all can be found at your local garden shop.

Additionally, a chef can always use a new set of spatulas or wooden spoons. Attach your family's favorite recipe to the gift and your teacher will know that you thought about him or her.

Gifts for Teachers Who Plan to Spend Their Summer Criss-Crossing the Country on VacationTravel Mug Gift by lisastorms.typepad.com

Buy a reusable eco-friendly cup from Bed Bath and Beyond or on Amazon.com and fill it with a handmade note from your child and lemonade drink packets. Top it off with these adorable printed flags, one says: 'Thank you for being a great "ade" to our class' and the other says 'Thank you for quenching my thirst for knowledge.'  They can take this adorable gift with them all summer as they travel and stay hydrated!

Or, you could create a summer travel goody bag complete with disposable camera, postcards, stamps, magazines for long flights, gum and maybe a gift card for a coffee shop.

Gifts for Teachers Who are Sports Fanatics

Does your teacher like to play golf? What about a sleeve of golf balls with a small note that says 'You are one tee-rific teacher!'  Or, does your teacher plan on watching lots of the great American pastime this summer? How about a cap from your teacher's favorite baseball team and a bag of salted unshelled peanuts (if they are not allergic of course) with a note that says: "We're nuts about our teachers!"

Homemade Thank You Gifts

For that extra homemade thank you and one that is good if you have more than a few to distribute is cookies-in-a-jar. By searching the internet for cookies in a jar, you can find lots of recipes for these tasty treats. You can personalize the cookies by adding colorful candies, maybe the school colors? Or, put the teacher's favorites into the jar. The nice part about cookies-in-a-jar is that you can set them up in an assembly line and the kids can help you make them.  Also, the recipient can make them later when all the other end of the year gifts are gone.

Another homemade gift that is sure to pull at your child's teacher's heart strings is anything made by your child. A drawing, a note, anything in their own hand will mean more than anything you buy at Hallmark.

End of the year thank you inspiration is just a click away!  Check out these sites for more information and tutorials so you can turn these creative concepts into reality for your favorite educators!

Personalized Planter:  skiptomylou.org/2011/05/01/gardening-gift-teacher-appreciation/
Traveling Teachers:  lisastorms.typepad.com/lisa-storms/2011/05/teacher-appreciation-week-part-3.html
Loves to Cook:  wikihow.com/Give-a-Gift-to-Someone-Who-Likes-to-Cook
Hand Made Bakegoods: bakerella.com/mix-things-up/

About the author: Sara Mooradian is a talented blogger, wife, mom, sister and friend.  Read more of her work here.

Photocredits: Personalized planter by skiptomylou.org. Reusable cup by lisastorms.typepad.com