Teacher Appreciation Week 2013 And That Sticky Gift Card Question

Elaine Radford - Author

Aug. 23 2017, Updated 2:00 a.m. ET

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week 2013, and Tuesday is National Teacher Day. In theory, it’s the week that we celebrate our teachers for the gift of learning. In reality, it’s the time to agonize about what gift can possibly be appropriate for someone who is handing down grades to your child.

As Education Week noted, this year witnessed the worst-ever assault in K-12 school history with the Sandy Hook, Connecticut slaying in December that left 20 first graders and six teachers dead. Despite the horror and the still-unsettled gun control debate, teachers have to keep going and have to stand in front of classrooms of sometimes frightened children every single workday.

Teachers are professionals, and they deserve professional recognition. They don’t work for tips.

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So just how do you show that appreciation? A blogger in Atlanta said, “I am seeing an interesting trend this year in Teacher Appreciation Week that both our schools… just asked for gift cards that they could give out to the teachers… They never ask the kids to wear their teacher’s favorite colors, or bring in a flower or book on a different day.”

And it isn’t just Atlanta. There has been a growing chorus around the nation that teachers are fed up with apples, home-baked cookies, and things that smell. Perfumes, body lotions, scented candles… they all bite it big time.

Rants From Mommyland summed it up as well as anyone during Teacher Appreciation Week 2012: “Teachers do not want mugs, teacher-themed knick-knacks or anything with apples on them…[I]magine getting 5 or more of the pretty much the same mug – every single year.”

A 25-year veteran California teacher, Philip Done, told one blogger that men would eat home-baked goodies but women wouldn’t. Maybe. I think it’s 2013, and you have to assume that nobody in their right mind is eating food prepared by someone they don’t know in an unlicensed kitchen. So you’re excused from baking even if the teacher in question is a man.

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As for smells, the whole scented thing in an age of environmental allergy is thoughtless. Even if the teacher doesn’t have asthma or allergies, one or more of the children in the class probably does.

So what does that leave?

“Teachers do not expect the gifts, they really don’t expect them,” Done said.

Education Week suggested that the best gift was advocacy for political and budget changes that help teachers do their job.

Everybody agreed that a thank you note is always nice.

And, yes, it’s apparently OK to chip in for a gift card. If you’re the only parent giving a gift card, it may smack of bribery or sucking up.

But if you can get other parents involved, and everybody is chipping in, then it’s probably the best option.

As one teacher of 11 years put it, “We know. It’s the thought that counts. We do appreciate those thoughts, we really, really do. But after we’re done appreciating that we were remembered, we’re left with the mug, soap and apron.”

If you want the teacher to have something to use, instead of something to throw away, then the gift card is probably your best bet.

What are you doing for Teacher Appreciation Week 2013?

[photo by Julie DeGuia via Shutterstock]


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