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Teacher Gifts June 17, 2008

Posted by alwaysjan in Teaching.
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At the end of the school year, when a child comes up to me with that gleam in their eye and says, “Teacher, I got you something special!” I cringe.  After only six years of teaching, I’ve amassed a small cache of “collectables,” which I suspect Chinese children, with their small nimble fingers, have assembled in windowless factories. Collectables that are then shipped to a 99 Cent Store by a school near you and destined for a yard sale even nearer.  

Least I sound jaded, or even worse, greedy, let me make one thing clear.  I love to receive handmade cards from students who profess their undying love for their “favrite techer” and then proceed to misspell my last name.  I carry a poignant letter my student Michelle wrote to me three years ago in case I need a reason to live, or just to survive yard duty.  And I always appreciate those student drawings of me that make me look younger, more glamorous, and skinnier than I ever was or could hope to be.

But what would I really like to receive?  Money!  Alas, cash is crass, so two words then…gift card.  No make that three words…Target gift card!  I can use it for luxury items like food and clothing over the long hot summer when I don’t get paid. This is even more important because of my pets’ uncanny ability to require emergency veterinary care only during the months of July and August.

I’ve been chanting the mantra of Target to my students for years and this year, karma came round.  Now I have a serene smile on my face, not unlike the one on that faux stone garden Buddha at Target.  Never mind that I used the last gift card to buy thank you notes for parents and then hit the $1 section to stock up on student “incentives.”  A gift card is the perfect gift because it provides me with the illusion of having options.  Still not a believer?

Then allow me, like the ghost of Christmas Past, to show you those gifts I’ve received from students past/passed.

First, there are the mugs.  Mountains of mugs.  A variation on the mug is the mug filled with Hershey’s Kisses or Tootsie Roll Pops.  I even received a mug during Teacher Appreciation Week from my school district two years ago.  Of course, no sooner had I received it, then a notice arrived informing me that the mug was to be used “for decorative purposes only” due to its high lead content. The mugs were eventually rounded up and presumably buried in a landfill near you.  

A close second to mugs are all things apple.  Except computers.  It doesn’t help that I don’t particularly like apples. I have bushels of apple pins, jewelry, you name it.  It has limited appeal (a peel?) on eBay due to a glut in apple-themed merchandise.  

Regifting is always popular.  I’ve received numerous clothing items that were brought in, wadded up in plastic bags, with the tags cut off.  One year I received a bat-winged sweater with a plunging neckline in a size that was obviously too small for the student’s mother, and obviously too big for me.  I convinced the student that the sweater was so fancy I didn’t want to wear it to school or the other teachers would be jealous.  Same for all the jewelry I’ve received, including the watch with the broken stem, and all of the sparkly earrings raccoons would salivate over.

And then there was the two-pack of paper toilet seat covers.  Rest assured, this is one gift I’ve received that’s provided the most laughs.  It was obviously “borrowed” from the mother’s place of employment.   Other teachers have suggested I could use them as bathroom passes, wreaths at Christmas, Hawaiian leis, or even as beards for President’s Day!  Leave it to those resourceful teachers to come up with so many creative applications. These are the same people who get giddy when presented with a bag of styrofoam meat trays.

If you multiply these “collectables” over years of  teaching.  Well,  picture the final scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark.   I did hear of a teacher who saved every student gift she ever received and displayed them in a room of her home.  I’m sure there’s a name for people like that and I’m betting it ends with Syndrome.  But I don’t want that to be my future.  

So, three words.  Target Gift Card.   

 

 

 

 

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Comments»

1. Elisse Stuart - June 28, 2008

Hey Planetjan:
Love the post on teacher gifts. You were right on. It is so true, the Target gift cards end up being used to buy more things for our students. My gifts tend to be photos of my students which in turn go into a collection of little scrapbooks on my desk. : )

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