Thursday, August 29, 2013

Relax Everybody, Back-to-School Teacher Gifts are Not a Thing

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Do I need to buy back-to-school teacher gifts
Chalk this up to another negative aspect of social media, you start seeing trends where they don't exist. I'd caught wind of back-to-school teacher gifts in my Facebook stream last week. Days later in the midst of vetting bloggers for a client project I noticed even more bloggers mentioning such gifts--and offering suggestions and tutorials. No doubt my brain would have exploded if I'd checked the topic on Pinterest.

I turned to my peeps via the forum where I'd first caught whiff of this, Facebook, and asked them for opinions on back-to-school teacher gifts. Most of my friends were in my corner, with such gifts either being questioned or unheard of.

It's hard enough to pay for $100 or more per child for school supplies (plus an extra pair of gym shoes for PE!), $100- $500 per child in school fees (public school fees), but add on top of that another round of gift cards or adorable homemade gifts (that, no offense people, my teacher friends readily admit they could do without) and ouch.

{Related note: sticking to my theme of looking back on 8 years of blog archives, check out this post, C+ Gifts for Teachers from 2008.}

For all you know you child could be in for the worst. year. ever. Hopefully not, but as the parent of teens I will tell you that every child, even in a great school, suffers a low point somewhere along the way. A teacher gift at the beginning of the year is like tipping servers before a meal. What's the point? Are you expecting better service or something?

Speaking of which, a couple of my friends mentioned that these gifts could be seen as bribes. Before I got all cynical (years before Pinterest even existed, mind you) I had once considered such a gift and my husband talked me out of it because he thought it might look odd or somehow off-putting despite my good intentions.

I like when teachers have a Donor's Choose or Adopt a Classroom page. That makes it easy to give something that will have meaning to the teacher and students regardless of time of year. For example, if my son's first grade teacher had let me know prior to the spring teacher-parent conference that her classroom lacked a dictionary that contained my son's advanced vocabulary words, I would have happily provided one even without an "occasion." (Seriously, I was often in communication with her. Why did she never mention this to me?! That year was a low point. Sadly, one of many.)

Now that my personal peanut gallery has weighed in, I feel justified that I'm not breaking out the Sculpey. I have no intention of baking a batch of brownies while I'm already cranking the AC to keep our house cool. I will however give teachers a gift of sorts, the chance to spend hours each day with my children.

Clearly in 2013, back-to-school teacher gifts aren't a thing but then again, once upon a time, neither was Elf on a Shelf.

Note: in the hours between writing and publishing this piece, I came across this Elf on the Shelf horror


Selfish Mom said...

The only acceptable gift at the beginning of the school is booze. IF you're going to give something at all. Which I agree, is not a thing and shouldn't be.

Daisy said...

I'm in my nineteenth year of teaching. I've had parents bring in supplies to meet my wish list desires, and once in a while I get flowers or the traditional apple. I'm glad the opening day gift isn't a tradition here. In the long run, parents are bringing me the gift of their trust by leaving their children in my class.