End of Year Teacher Gifts

The end of June is rapidly approaching, and with it, the end of our children’s years with their current teachers.  It has become pretty standard for most people who can afford it to buy the teacher a small gift as a token of appreciation when they feel it’s warranted.  The question that often comes to mind, however, is what?

The most common gift is the gift certificate.  This is wonderful because it allows teachers to get themselves something they want.  This is why it was recently named the best gift to get your teacher by Lisa Orr of Orr Etiquette.  There are a couple considerations that need to be mentioned though before you all run out and buy various gift cards to various places.

The first issue is that unless you can afford an amount that would allow the teacher to buy something nice for her/himself at whatever store you’re at, you may be putting more financial hardship on the teacher to try and use the gift card.  For example, if you get a $10 gift card to the Gap, there’s very little that a teacher can buy for that amount which means to use the card, the teacher needs to now put forth some of her/his own money.  If you know there’s absolutely something they will buy themselves at a given store, this is less of an issue, but if we’re honest, how many of us know that?

The second issue is making sure you select a store that the teacher will use.  If you’ve never seen your child’s teacher consume coffee or tea, a gift card to Starbucks may not be the best idea.  Making sure that you get a gift card to a store that is relevant for your child’s teacher is a must.  The flipside of this is considering how much your child’s teacher has spent out of pocket on the classroom.  If you know you have a teacher that, no matter what, will be using her/his own money to make the classroom a better environment for children, you may want to look into a gift card to a place like Staples so that the teacher won’t have to use hard-earned money to do her/his job.  However, this knowledge may also mean you don’t want to do a gift card that won’t be used for the teacher to teach and instead want something for the teacher.  Your call.

One of the ways to resolve these issues is to do a class gift.  We have been lucky to have parents organize this during some years and it’s been so nice to know we could go in with $5-$10 or more (if we could afford more that year) and know that the teacher was going to be getting a gift card worth far more (often between $150-$200, yes, the classes are big).  One year we also had a parent recommend getting a gift card for a shopping centre so that the teacher could choose which store to spend it in, or even spend various amounts in various shops.  It was a win-win.  (Of note, some malls and shopping centres have fees associated with the card so please look into this, you don’t want the card to lose a significant amount of value.)

Of course, not everyone can afford the money to go towards a teacher’s gift.  That’s okay.  I’ve known a few teachers and often what means the most at the end of the year is a note from a student and family about the positive impact they have had on the child.  It gives them the stories that keep them working hard when budget cuts and bureaucracy can make the job seem almost too much.  Never underestimate the value of such a letter to a teacher.

Regardless, get ready to celebrate the teachers in your life as the year comes to a close.  They have worked hard and helped our children grow as human beings and deserve recognition for this work.

By Tracy Cassels

June 15, 2015