Many moons ago, I taught English in a public school setting. And Teacher Appreciation Week was one of my favorite times of year.
I loved being in the classroom. But as we are all aware, the monetary compensation left something to be desired. So it just felt good to know that parents and students appreciated my hard work.
For a few years, I also worked as the cheerleading coach for the high school I taught at. One time I calculated my per hour pay for coaching. It was 10 cents an hour.
One dime. Per hour. Are you kidding me?
It’s a good thing I liked those girls.
I was fortunate enough to have some super generous parents when I worked as a teacher.
But there was one gift I got during Teacher Appreciation Week that I will never forget.
It was the last day of school. The day after I would be moving 9 hours away. Into my portable classroom walks this sweet momma and her well-behaved son. (He’d been a great student that year.) They had a gift for me, and it was none other than a Japanese Fighting Fish in a bowl with a live plant growing atop.
I have no doubt that their intentions were so kind, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. The fish did look pretty cool, but a live animal is kind of a weighty gift.
So the day after school let out, I packed all my belongings in a U-Haul. My then-fiance drove the truck. And I rode holding a fish bowl. In my lap. For nine hours. Comfy.
My older boys go to a school here in Albuquerque that has a fantastic tradition for Teacher Appreciation. One parent in the class collects money. Simply cold, hard cash for each teacher. I love this idea for a few reasons.
1. Then no teacher receives an abundance of gifts made with crayons and hot glue.
2. All teachers are assured not to receive pets as gifts.
3. The teacher can buy something they need or want.
My oldest son’s beloved fifth-grade teacher moved away last year. (I think I’m still in mourning over this because I had hoped for my younger kids to get her.) She needed a new washing machine when she moved into her new house in a new state. And the gift our class provided her for Teacher Appreciation bought her a new washing machine. Now I’m all about Starbucks gift cards, but hello, a new washer beats 25 cups of coffee any day (well, most days).
I feel like there’s not enough money in the world to thank the teachers my kids have this year. We all know they get paid peanuts. But they do such an important job!
I have a third grader who started the school year hating all books and dreading reading. Reading was such a chore for him and often resulted in tears. Yesterday I caught him reading in a tree. For fun. He can’t put books down now. I can’t repay his teacher enough for helping to instill a love of reading in my sweet boy.
My oldest son’s teacher pushes him and refuses to let him be a slacker. She sees potential in him. She is kind, but firm. Can you repay a teacher for showing your kid what he can be? I think not.
My daughter’s preschool teacher listens to my sweet, chatty girl talk incessently for a few hours a week so I can get something done in quiet. Bless this woman.
So maybe you’re the mom who collects the wad of cash so your kid’s teacher can do something useful for him or herself. I can’t think of a better gift.
But even if you can’t make that happen, I’d recommend staying away from live animals this Teacher Appreciation Week.
Need more ideas? Check out this post.