The Gifts that Teachers Really Want This Year

By the end of 2020, you're probably needing teaching supplies that are unique to teaching from home, for at least part of the time. If you haven't provided parents with your own classroom wishlist yet, they are probably feeling confused as to what to get teachers during these unprecedented times. . . So, our early education Advisory Board member, Vivian, polled 100 teachers to find out the top 10 treasures they really want this year!

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10 Gifts Teachers Really Want for the Holidays

This past school year has been like no other before. Whether the kids are receiving their schooling on site, at home, or in a hybrid delivery model, it’s been a huge adjustment for everyone. Parents are struggling juggling their own work obligations while helping their children navigate the remote learning curve. Kids are starting to feel isolated and may be worrying that life may never return back to “normal”.

But what about you, teachers? Adapting lesson plans for virtual instruction and providing onsite teaching under unprecedented restrictions, while maintaining an upbeat and reassuring attitude has definitely put a strain on all. And many of you are parents yourselves, dealing with your own family situations. So, what are some of the best ways for students' parents to show you their appreciation? Give something back — and here are 10 gifts that teachers want, in their own words:

  1. Gift cards that offer some type of pampering from nail salons and spas. “Anything that will help me relax is welcomed this year!”
  2. Gift cards to indie bookstores or local stores, especially with online ordering options. “That way, I can choose what I really want or need.”
  3. Donations to a food pantry, animal shelter, or a local charity. “Giving to charity makes us all feel good!”
  4. Coffee/Cafe gift cards. “This year—more than most—I need a ton of caffeine to keep me going!”
  5. An essential item for many teachers this year is a rolling cart, carryall bag or lunchbox, since many travel from classroom to classroom to the students. “Lugging my teaching materials, my laptop, my lunch, beverage, and coat back and forth every day is too much for me to carry!”
  6. Personalized gifts with the teacher’s name on them (for example, Etsy has a lot of different stores to order from)—such as notepads, clipboards, post-it notes, etc. One teacher shared that she received a personalized stamp for grading with an otter that said: [Teacher’s Name] Thinks You're Otter-ly Amazing! “Hands down, it was the best teacher gift I’ve ever gotten and the stamp is something I’ve used every school year since!”
  7. Different colors of Dry Erase markers and gel pens. “The colors help differentiate separate subject or content concepts when using the document camera.”
  8. Potted plants. “Every time I nurture the plant, I think about the child who gave it to me!”
  9. Pen/pencil sets. “I once received a lovely Waterman pen and pencil set. I still use it and think about that student and his mom when I do.”
  10. Books for the classroom – inscribed with a message from the student. “I’ve had students give me their favorite picture books with a message and I love that because every time I read the books, I remember them!”

When my kids were in school decades ago, we baked trays of cookies and loaves of bread to give as holiday gifts. While those are always appreciated, it may not be the best idea to exchange food items during the pandemic. So, here are 5 ideas taken from teachers that may inspire your students' families (if shared with them!) to create something that comes straight from the heart or child’s hands.

  1. “One of my favorite gifts was a journal with a letter from the child written on the first page.”
  2. “My best gift ever was a book a student had made full of quotes and sayings [some of which were mine from some of my lessons!], and I still treasure it because she made it with me in mind.”
  3. “Homemade and heartfelt cards would be welcome this year. I have a few handwritten cards and notes I keep around and reread on the hard days.”
  4. “I would love anything homemade—especially by the kids!”
  5. “What I love to get: literally anything—just that my kiddos or their parents took the time to remember is heartwarming enough!”

You may have heard of the positive behavior strategy of “filling someone’s bucket”. As teachers, you know you spend all year filling your student’s buckets, and it’s time for your students' families to reciprocate the bucket filling! And since it’s been such a difficult year, how nice would it be to be given one item from the first list…and even one from the second? Because you, our teachers, deserve a huge bucket of gratitude this year for being on the frontlines so that students can keep moving forward and succeed!

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