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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Teacher Gifts Encore: Just Say No

A few days ago, I was waiting to check out at Dollar Tree. In front of me was a woman with, among other things, 8 snowman mugs. The woman in front of her commented on how cute the mugs were. And then the teacher gift conversation started.

Mug lady said that her kids had--between them--8 teachers. Each teacher would get a mug filled with candy. Admirer exclaimed over the idea--so cheap!--and said she would do the same.

Don't get me wrong. I think snowmen are cute. I do. But please don't give teachers mugs. First stop: Dollar Tree for a dollar. Next stop: Goodwill for whatever. At that point, another parent will probably buy the mug for a teacher gift, starting the whole process again. I guess this is recycling. But really, teachers have enough to do.

I don't receive many teacher gifts. So far this year, I have received an apple (we were doing Paradise Lost) and half a Hershey bar. These were much appreciated and will live forever in my memory. I know a lot of K-12 teachers and, trust me, all would appreciate a heartfelt note more than a mug.

Trust me on this.

7 comments:

camorra said...

When I was young, my teachers got either Puppy Chow in a mug or free expensive French beauty products. They tended to be very satisfied with the latter. It's one of the perks of having a student whose family owns a high end spa.

materfamilias said...

Oh yes! I taught piano/music theory for years before moving to academia and I have recycled more mugs-decorated-with-musical-motifs than I want to remember.
But a lucky friend who teaches at a French-immersion primary school had students whose parents were so organized that they collected funds to give my friend a fabulous day at a fabulous spa -- for not too much more than the cost of what might have been a horrific 30+ Christmas mugs.
What a difference!
My favourite gift now comes from those few students who take the time to write down what they've learned from my class - I got such a card the other day (nicely accompanied by home-baked ginger cookies, mark of a mature student!), and I'd rather have that than all the mugs (altho' maybe not more than the spa day . . .)
Perhaps your thoughtful post will end the recycling cycle of all those mugs. We can hope, at least.

Funny about Money said...

When I went to school, it was against the rules to give gifts to teachers. It was considered a conflict of interest (for the teacher, that is) and unethical.

Duchesse said...

People say thanks in the manner they wish and can afford- and while I too would prefer expensive beauty products to a snowman mug, any expression of appreciation is increasingly rare these days.

A "no gifts" policy could be stated by a school or private teacher; then you might receive a note or card, but not an unwanted item.

materfamilias said...

Duchesse makes a good point. It always behooves us to be grateful for any token of appreciation -- I do remember how pleased my young piano students were in anticipating my pleasure at their gifts, and I always made sure to let them see me enjoying tea in one of those musically-decorated mugs. So I'll rap myself on the knuckles for my earlier comments. . .

SLF said...

Mama, don't forget the story of my beloved 2nd and 3rd grade teacher Mr. Callahan who said that the best present we could get him was "a nice pair of socks" since it is something that he constantly needed! In fact, I think you could do a whole post about Mr. Callahan's gift philosophies!

--Frugal Son

Frugal Scholar said...

@camorra--the spa stuff sounds great, but why the puppy chow?

@Funny--Maybe it is a regional thing...it seems to continue through high school here.

@SLF-Dear Son, I already wrote a post about Mr. Callahan and his socks. I see you haven't been keeping up.

@Duchesse and Mater--You are both nicer than I am. I would agree with you if the gift giving seemed to involve the kids at all (nary a kid in sight) and seemed other than perfunctory. Those mugs seemed to violate a rule of gift-giving: don't give something you wouldn't be happy to receive.