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Thank You, Teachers

Come Thursday at noon, another year of school will have come ... and gone. Not only does that mean scalding summer days, switching to the camp routine and living at the pool, but it also means it's gift time.

Yes, now's when we get to pay thank our kids' teachers for all the wonderful work they did during this past school year. At the preschool, the envelopes go up and parents are expected to contribute $10 per teacher at Hanukkah and the end of the year. The money buys a gift card for the teachers. From what I've heard from other parents of preschoolers, that's fairly standard in our area.

At the elementary school, though, getting the teacher a classroom end-of-the-year gift hasn't proven as simple. Our room parent mom sent an e-mail asking for $10 or whatever families could contribute. She saw me the other day, "Barely anyone responded," she said sadly. Other parents in our school have reported the same experience in past years.

Another parent in our class -- who spends large chunks of time at the school -- took time during a rainy day recess recently to work with the class on a memory book for the teacher. Taking an idea inspired by Rosemary Wells' My Kindergarten, the mom had the students draw pictures of what they are thanking the teacher for teaching them in kindergarten. And all the children told the mom something that they particularly liked learning.

How do you and your children thank your teachers? Do you find differences based on schools that are public or private? Or preschool versus elementary, middle and high schools?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  June 10, 2008; 7:15 AM ET
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Comments


The paycheck and benefits package =
"Thank You".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 7:28 AM | Report abuse

To be honest, I am shocked how little people appreciate their children's teachers. I do think that $$ is a serious issue for families. But I don't understand why parents, who do not have a lot of dispospal cash, do not write a heart felt card. It takes all of 10 minutes and is pretty much free.

I guess we are overly generous but I felt it is better to err(sp?) on the cautious side. We give a $50 gift card for Holiday card and for end of year thank you gift to the main teacher. We give each of the aids a $25 gift card. There are two aids in the classroom. We give the speech teacher $25 gift card. We give the bus driver and the aid $15 gift card.

My daughter goes to public preschool but we will continue giving these amounts till the end of elementary school. I think when she is in a larger class of (20+) kids, we will give the main teacher $25 gc because she/he will be drawing a larger pool of students. I also assume they do less for the older children. Preschool teachers are responsible for so much of the little things that older kids can take care of themselves.

We also donate a book at Holiday time for the library. When my daughter starts going to gym, art and music, we will probably give each speciality teacher a small Starbucks gift card. Maybe $5 each. I figure they see at least 200 kids a year and have lot more students to draw gifts from.

This year for teacher's appreciation day, one mother called all of the families and asked for $20 donation. I had already purchased $25 Target gcs for the teacher, aids, and speech teacher but contributed to the group gift as well. If I knew a head of time there would be a group gift, I would not have bought additional gcs. But the mother picked out $30 gcs for the teacher and two aids(she skipped the speech teacher) at a local resturant and a scented candle, gift bag and a card. I would have ditched the candle and just given them all a $40 gc but since I did not do the work, I wasn't about to voice opposition. The problem was she called about the day before TA day. So she had to collect all the money and shop and the gift was given about a week later then the actual TA day. But maybe someone will do better next time.

I am all for group gifts. It seems like it saves money but I am too lazy to try to start one up.

But I really don't get why people would not want to thank their child's teacher. We had a similar talk around the holidays. You think it is appropriate to tip or give a gift to your hair dresser but not your kid's teacher? Seems kind of backwards to me.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 7:48 AM | Report abuse

We love our daughter's teacher, not to mention she purchases a lot of things for the classroom with her own dime. At Christmas and the end of the year, $10 just doesn't seem to cut it. I have no problem with giving her a gift card at the holidays and the end of the year. Heck, I pay our weekly maid service too, but they still get a year end thank you check. Why shouldn't our teacher? She spends more time each day with my child than my husband does.

Posted by: Youngmom | June 10, 2008 7:52 AM | Report abuse

My mom has been an elementary music teacher for 28 years. She gets maybe 4 presents every holiday. She doesn't expect a gift card or anything lavish, but I see how happy it makes her to get a box of chocolate, homemade cookies or even a card from one of her students. I think the "extra" teachers are overlooked by 99% of people.

Posted by: Marimom | June 10, 2008 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I agree on the "extra" or "specials" teachers, they do tend to get overlooked. We have an excellent resource teacher that helps out in our daughter's class, she has become a friend and mentor to several of the kids. The resource teacher is getting a thank you card and gift cert as well as the classroom teacher. Cards/letters should not be discounted, I am sure they are appreciated and precious.

I can't believe 50$ and 25$ gift certicates, seems like a bit much. I guess if you can afford it it is no skin off my nose, but I can see how teachers could potentially rake in. We normally add 5$ per classroom teacher to the class gift and buy something small individually, and write a thank you note.

Posted by: Get Real | June 10, 2008 8:04 AM | Report abuse

While gifts are appreciated, they aren't expected. My favorite thing to get from students (and parents) at the end of the year is a nice thank you note. They really make my day.

Posted by: DC Teacher | June 10, 2008 8:06 AM | Report abuse

PS Get Real: I don't know any teachers that are "raking it in". I teach at a private school with a wealthy student population, and I get 3-4 gifts from students, tops.

Posted by: DC Teacher | June 10, 2008 8:08 AM | Report abuse

"We give a $50 gift card for Holiday card..."

You give a Veteran's Day card?

"We also donate a book at Holiday time for the library..."

At each holiday? Columbus Day book, Memorial Day book?

Let's not be TOO PC here, folks.

Posted by: Smart Alex | June 10, 2008 8:16 AM | Report abuse

"Our room parent mom sent an e-mail asking for $10 or whatever families could contribute. She saw me the other day, "Barely anyone responded," she said sadly. Other parents in our school have reported the same experience in past years."

With gas and food prices, I really can't blame them for not wanting to spend extra money on teachers who get paid a salary to do a job. Also, the thanks should go both ways. If you are a teacher and someone bakes, gives, buys you something, write a thank you note to them. You are not immune from good manners. Last year I spent all day baking cookies for teachers at my kids school and I didn't get one thank you. Now I know they must want money.

Posted by: kidding me | June 10, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

My daughter's school finished up last Friday. We've been very busy preparing for a family member's wedding so I completely forgot to get something. After the wedding (this weekend), my daughter and I will make nice thank you notes to send to each teacher at home. Better late than never, I guess.

Posted by: 21117 | June 10, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

My DH is a high school math teacher in public school. He neither expected, nor received "Holiday" gifts - Columbus Day or otherwise. He did get several lovely handmade Christmas cards (the kids made them as projects for Art class) and he received one very nice card about a week ago. Notes or cards from students saying that they actually learned something and that they appreciate the efforts he makes are the most satisfying reward.

Posted by: teachers wife | June 10, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

My sister has taught kindergarten and 1st grade at a NYC school for about 7 years. Her student population is pretty diverse - new immigrants to affluent families (her school is a national model school), and the gifts she has received are diverse. Homemade foods from different students representing their home countries, gift cards to book stores, flowers, bagels from a family that owned a bagel shop.
It's not about the gift card. It's about the parent recognizing the teacher's contribution to their child's life, love of learning, and future. If your pre-school and early elementary teachers don't teach your kids to be active learners, to like school, and that they can succeed, the next 10 years of your life will be much harder as your kid works through school. So if your kids' teachers did a good job, tell them so. Thank them with words, with a letter or card. Make sure they know that you appreciate having a kid who wants to read books this summer.

Posted by: teacher's sister | June 10, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

A lot of teachers get sick of getting trinkets (candles, mugs) from their students. Others dont appreciate getting fattening food, (cookies, chocolate) especially during the holidays. Gift cards are welcome though it's just a way to patronize a particular business on behalf of the parent and using them is not always convenient. of course, gift cards are a nice gesture, but will be thrown in the trash a few seconds after being read.

Cash is the perfect gift! It is guaranteed to be appreciated and used at the discretion of the teacher you want to thank. Can't beat it! (well, maybe with a ruler - LOL)

BTW: From preschool to 2nd grade, we invite our kids' teachers over for dinner at some point during the year. The teachers seem to be interested in the homelife of their pupil's family, and welcoming them into our house is a great way to show our appreciation as well as satisfy their curiosity of their student's home environment.

Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Oops - hopefully gift cards won't be thrown in the trash, though Hallmark cards wil be tossed immediately.

Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 8:40 AM | Report abuse

don't forget a thank you note (no gift) to the room moms!

Posted by: moxiemom | June 10, 2008 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I give a ton all year. I recognize that I could send my kids to private school, but have opted for public. I am getting a free education, why not provide things for the school. I really don't want the teachers to have to pay for paper, supplies, etc. I try to give all of those things. At Christmas and the end of the year, I might spend $40 on a gift to sincerely thank them. I am so appreciate of their service. I also write a note letting them know that no trinket or amount of money could repay them for their service. This year, somehow, I also ended up with the gerbils (I don't know how that happened). My mom is a teacher and people just don't appreciate teachers enough. They get paid less than everyone else, why not provide the intangibles like a nice note to let them know that their sacrifice does not go unnoticed.

Posted by: KVB | June 10, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Some years ago, parents were told that teachers in our local elementary school only want cash or gift cards. My main problem with it, is the children are completely unaware that they are even giving a gift. And, if you are telling what kind of gifts you will accept, then it is not truly a gift, it is a tax. Or something else.

So, if teachers are tired of receiving trinkets, who cares? We all love cash and gift cards, but isn't it the thought that counts?

I am a volunteer (Girl Scouts) and sometimes receives gifts I can't use, but it would be in very poor taste for me to dictate to the gift giver what I think is the "appropriate" gift or even worse, the "best" type of gift.

What happened to humility and decency? These are children after all.

(My husband is a high school teacher).

Posted by: Kate | June 10, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

PS Get Real: I don't know any teachers that are "raking it in". I teach at a private school with a wealthy student population, and I get 3-4 gifts from students, tops.

Posted by: DC Teacher | June 10, 2008 8:08 AM

I don't know any public servant that is raking it in salarywise, which is the distinction. I also don't know any other public servants such as fireman, policemen, county employees, that can accept cash gifts. If a teacher gets 25-50$ from each student on Holidays or at the end of the year, I consider that raking it in. I don't think this happens much, but the potential is there. A class in our school bought a 3rd grade teacher a roundtrip ticket to Germany and an American Express gift cert for the trip, I call this excessive. I bet a majority of these parents did not even write a thank-you note to the other public servants that serve and protect them everyday. I'd love to be proven wrong, but being married to a county employee, I know the appreciation is not there for certain sectors.

Posted by: Get Real | June 10, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

don't forget a thank you note (no gift) to the room moms!"

Oh, brother!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"From preschool to 2nd grade, we invite our kids' teachers over for dinner at some point during the year."

AKA "Sucking up".

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse

KVB | June 10, 2008 8:48 AM

Your kids are not getting a 'free' education. You are being overcharged by a bloated, bureacratic system via your taxes. Please remember there is nothing 'free' when it comes to county, state or federal services.

DandyLion, I like the dinner at your house idea, sounds very community friendly and just plain nice.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 8:54 AM | Report abuse

I send a note to the principal with a cc to the teacher saying how the teacher helped my child. I try to put in specific examples as opposed to generalities.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I agree fully with "teachers sister". It's not the type of gift or how much it costs, it's the fact that a parent is recognizing the hard work that you've done with a student over the year. I've been teaching in a low income school for 8 years. While I can't say I'm ever disappointed by getting a Starbucks gift card, the gifts that stand out most in my mind are the heartfelt ones. Examples: Homemade treats and a hand written thank you. (Many of my families are from different countries and I love it when they share their food/traditions) And my all time favorite gift--perfume/powder from the dollar tree--the student had picked it out himself and was so proud. He wanted me to wear it immediately. He couldn't stop smiling all day. Watching how happy it made him to thank me was worth more than any gift card!

Posted by: teacher | June 10, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Teacher: Thanks for appreciating the little things that are important to the kids. My son picked out a cheap little perfume from the dollar store for his preschool teacher and wrapped it (with glue!) himself. The teacher was grinning ear to ear when he presented it to her, which made my son the happiest 4 year old in the world!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I'll conform to the expectation and give my son's teachers a gift. He's not in public school yet but I'm sure I will then too.

But I do think it is a patronizing tradition. We underpay certain professionals - teachers and nurses - and then we treat it like a personal favour that they do their jobs in a caring way.

My real gift to the teachers is to continue to support funding education adequately and ensure that they don't have to "spend their own money" on essential supplies.

Posted by: Shandra | June 10, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

When did giving teachers gifts become the rage? Sounds like something the bored SAHMs dreamed up...

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Shandra, you have it backwards, by continuing to support funding (by which you mean county/state funds) you are continuing the wasteful spending. There is very little innovation in education. You can have the best teachers in the world and the system will misrepresent and mistreat them their whole careers.

My advice to everyone is get ahold of their county's school board line itemed budget, you will be shocked. The days of reading, writing and arithmetic are over, we live in a nannystate world where the schools are raising our children and making us pay for it!

Take the initiative Shandra and get involved. The NEA and School Boards are in cahoots together and your child and the teachers are getting shafted.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Teachers UNDERpaid? I don't agree.

In 2004, the starting salary for assistant public defenders (attorneys appointed by the court to represent poor people) was $39,000/year in Fairfax County.

For Kindergarten teachers?? It was $41,000/year AND the teachers have summers off and much more vacation time than the attorneys.

I think the teacher's union started this whine about being underpaid, and it has become boring to hear it.

Yes, in some places teachers may not be paid as well as in Fairfax county, although they are paid MORE in D.C. And yes, many, many people wouldn't want to be a teacher.

BUT for those who enjoy children and teaching, there is NO other job that pays as well and has such great benefits.

I think a polite "thank you" and mabye a letter at the end of the year is enough. The worst part of the gift giving is the parents who run around trying to get money out of my pocket - buy the teacher a gift if you want to, but stop trying to control other people. And remember - you might have adored the teacher and found her to be wonderful for your child, but not all children have the same experience.

Posted by: Amelia | June 10, 2008 9:19 AM | Report abuse

When did giving teachers gifts become the rage? Sounds like something the bored SAHMs dreamed up...

Posted by: | June 10, 2008 9:10 AM

Its called manners. It is always appropriate to thank a person who does a good job especially when it is something as important as nurturing and teaching our children. I'm sure even you get a year end performance review and maybe a bonus if you've done a job well. Why not the teachers. Writing a thoughtful note takes little effort. How you treat those around you is a greater indicator of class than the car you drive or kind of home you live in.

Posted by: moxiemom | June 10, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

"isn't it the thought that counts?"

And nothing says it better than a Ben Franklin.

Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

SmartAlex: By Holiday, I mean Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanza (or end of the calendar year) gift. We do not give gifts for all Federal Holidays.

9:10: We gave small gifts to our teachers when I was in school in the mid 70s. I have seen movies where kids were presenting Christmas gifts to teachers as far back as the 50s (protrayed in the movie). So it is not a new thing at all in the US.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 9:25 AM | Report abuse

I have received a thank you note from all the teachers for each gift. I have never gotten one from a bus driver or bus driver aid.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I cherish the first gift I got from a student. In fact, I can see it from where I'm working (at home in my office). It is a tacky little porcelain swan, and I love it. One of my 8th graders gave it to me.

I will always give teachers gifts. We ask them over for dinner, too, but only after the end of the year. My parents always did this and I will continue the tradition. It's wonderful to meet spouses and kids and have a relaxed time.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 10, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Giving gifts to teachers who are getting paid to do a job is ridiculous. Yes cards - notes of accommodation and Thank you are great. This area has gone overboard with rewarding people with gifts. The teachers know how much they are going to make when they sign up for the job. They are one group of employees who are paid and receive benefits- retirement and healthcare for their entire careers.
My children have had some of the best and we as a family have made sure they know this and all information goes back into their career file for future promotions etc. To present a "Starbucks" "paperweights" come on enough is enough.
As my children have grown in the school system they have encountered over the years teachers at one particular middle school who have been substandard- along with a principal who is just a figure head. Should a note or gift be awarded NO NO NO. Its time to send your kids to school- expect the best grades possible and expect those teachers that are "educating" our children to teach to all goals can be achieved. I am not a trying to be harsh or cynical parent - but rewarding a teacher with gift cards is not only silly but wasteful in this day.

Posted by: edra | June 10, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

I feel the need to comment on the salary issue. It's not like that everywhere. Nurses can make a killing and teachers can make close to 6-figures in some parts of the country, so I hope you all don't think that it's like that everywhere. Perhaps it's because this area has County (or city)-run schools and not village/town school districts.

My friend's father retired several years ago from teaching HS math with a $90,000+ yearly pension. Her parents sold their house and retired to FL, living the life.

There's a saying where I'm from -- "never met a poor teacher (or a poor cop, nurse, etc)".

However, back on topic, while growing up my mom (who babysat out of the home therefore had time) did bake specialty breads for my teachers (Thanksgiving, Christmas, end of the year) and it was appreciated by them. She probably still has the thank you notes somewhere.

Posted by: Former Long Islander | June 10, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Both my parents and my sister are public high school teachers. It is very common for them to receive a few hand made gifts- ie cookies, etc around Christmas and the end of the year along with some thank you cards. I don't think they have ever received cash gifts/gift cards! But I do know that they appreciate the thanks. Teaching if a tough job- and most people think it ends at the end of the school day, but that is far from the truth. Meetings, lesson planning, paper grading- they work far more than 40-50 hours a week with no overtime pay... Appreciate them!

Posted by: Ali | June 10, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Man, there sure are some people who are jealous of the crappy teacher's salaries. If you think it's such a good life, why don't you quit your job and go teach? Why is there such a shortage of teachers if the pay is so great? I mean, jeez, $90,000 at retirement? I'm within striking distance of that and I've only been in the workfarce for 8 years.

Do the math, you idiots.

Posted by: wtf | June 10, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Yes, free education. I could be paying my taxes, PLUS another $20K (in addition to endless capital fundraising), which lots of people do. I don't do that.

Teachers are paid well??? I made more money my first year out of grad school than my mom did after 25 years of teacher -and that is in the DC metropolitan area. She goes to work at 5 am and leaves at 6 pm. I don't exactly call those bankers hours. I later went on to law school and now make 3x more than my mother and I don't even practice law!

If you don't want to be thankful for the teacher that is with your child more than you are, more power to you. I choose to be thankful and support my school! Making your teacher happy, even by letting them know that they are appreciated, is not a bad thing.

I am NOT a SAHM. And because of that, I give my teacher even more. That means that I bug them constantly because I can't be at the school all the time. They take the time to really keep me informed.

Posted by: KVB | June 10, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

edra:Is it wasteful the vast majority of porfessionals, who also get retirement, health benefits, and salary, to receive an end of the year bonus or a bonus for a job well done? Why are teachers any different? I don't know how the police or fire protection people work. But my guess is they get small bonuses as well. I know other Federal employees who have the option of earning a bonus as well.

I do agree teachers are not in poverty. Starting salaries in the DC area are on par for starting BA jobs. Not all teachers start with a MS/MA degree. The issue is their trajectory is pretty low. After many years of service and Masters degree (or even PhD), they don't tend to make as much as other professionals with similar creditials. Of course they get a lot of time off compared to other jobs.

But I read in the WaPost that the average prinicpal salary (PhD) is under 80K/year in DC area. While in my place of employment PhDs start at over 100K and MA/MS start around 70K. After about 10-12 years, all MA/MS are making 6 figure incomes and PhDs are making close to 150+K/ year.

Teachers are in the job because they love it or they love the time off. Either way, they know they are not going to paid huge bucks. Whether the gc is for $5 or $50, it is the point of thanking the teacher for caring and nurturing our next generation.


I don't think anyone is advocating giving a crappy teacher any recognition at all (card or gift). I assume we are talking about average to above average teachers.

Posted by: devils advocate | June 10, 2008 9:48 AM | Report abuse

"My friend's father retired several years ago from teaching HS math with a $90,000+ yearly pension. Her parents sold their house and retired to FL, living the life."

I call shenanigans. (Actually, the phrase is "I call bull(droppings)" but this is a family blog. :-)

I simply don't believe that this is true. I'm not asking for the name of this individual, but I want to know the name of the school district so that I can check to see what the pay scale is. Even if this teacher retired after 44 years in the same district, his salary would have had to be well over $150,000 per year to earn that kind of pension. And I want to know where that school district is.

I simply don't believe it.

Posted by: SmartAlex | June 10, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I am not a trying to be harsh or cynical parent - but rewarding a teacher with gift cards is not only silly but wasteful in this day.


Posted by: edra | June 10, 2008 9:36 AM

What is wasteful about recognizing someone's efforts? It's not wasteful when I tip the skycap. Neither is contributing to an end-of-year class gift wasteful or particularly burdensome. Cut out 3 visits to Starbucks or a box of those bon-bons and you've balanced your budget. Frankly, it sends a positive message to our kids that life is not all about taking, but sometimes about stopping to recognize unsung heroes and contributing to positive recognition.

Food for thought: These kids will all grow up some day. Would you rather work for edra's child -- one who is stingy and takes the position that you knew what the salary was when you took the job, so suck it up? or Foamgnome's child: someone who was raised to appreciate and recognize the efforts of others?

Posted by: yada yada yada | June 10, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

devils advocate -- good post.

We do small gift cards, or participation in a communal gift card. But the place where I draw the line is my daughter's school's annual fundraiser for teacher appreciation week. Yes, that's right: I'm supposed to send my 7-yr-old through the neighborhood selling crap, so they can use the money to buy her teachers thank-you gifts. I don't think so. I just go in on the last day and fork over $20.

Posted by: Laura | June 10, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Laura:I with you on the fund raisers. I don't plan to participate in them next year. I will send in a cash donation. I also don't think my neighbors, friends and relatives need to buy over priced crap to support our schools. They can if they want to but my guess is they just feel obligated to buy. Although on this blog, some people swear they love SF gift wrap. I wished they leave their phone numbers because I would have been happy to sell it to them.:)

The worst part of the fund raiser is picking the crap up after work and then hauling it in to work to deliver the crap.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"In 2004, the starting salary for assistant public defenders (attorneys appointed by the court to represent poor people) was $39,000/year in Fairfax County."

Interesting, because assistant prosecutors start at $50,000 per year (see http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/14/AR2007041401319_pf.html)

Gee, guess who's considered more important?

Posted by: SmartAlex | June 10, 2008 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"Laura:I with you on the fund raisers. I don't plan to participate in them next year. I will send in a cash donation. I also don't think my neighbors, friends and relatives need to buy over priced crap to support our schools."

Amen, I refuse to participate in ANY fundraisers. My time is valuable to me and spending it peddling crap is not going to happen. Here's 20 bucks, knock yourself out.

Posted by: No, no double no | June 10, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

fundraisers are just something for SAHM to get involved with to keep from being bored and give them something to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Shandra:

"My real gift to the teachers is to continue to support funding education adequately and ensure that they don't have to "spend their own money" on essential supplies."

Anon @ 9:16

"Shandra, you have it backwards, by continuing to support funding (by which you mean county/state funds) you are continuing the wasteful spending."

Bear in mind that Shandra is Canadian. Shandra, do you live in Ontario? Because if she does, she's subsidizing both the local, secular public schools and the local, public Catholic schools. Yes, the Catholic schools in Ontari-ari-ario are funded through tax dollars.

(Google "Ontari-ari-ario". You won't be able to get that stupid song out of your head for weeks!)

Posted by: m2j5c2 | June 10, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Many teachers actually GET end of year bonuses based on how their students do on standardized tests. It is not up to parents to provide end of year bonuses to the teachers. My broker also gets an end of the year bonus from the financial services company he works for, but it's not up to me to provide it.

At some point when we lived in Fairfax County, teacher gifts stopped feeling like a voluntary offering which parents could choose to participate in and took on the aura of a shakedown. When the SAHM room parent calls you at home and informs you that the teachers will all be getting gift certificates to Tyson's Corner mall and that the "suggested donation" is twenty five dollars per child, then that's no longer a voluntary gift. If the gift card includes all the names of the parents who contributed, then it's pretty easy for the teacher to conclude that certain parents "stiffed her" by not contributing.

By the way, if there are thirty children in the classroom, and each contributes 25 dollars, then the teacher in question receives: 750 dollars at Christmas, 750 dollars at Teacher Appreciation Day and another 750 dollars at the end of the year, all off the books, taxfree. Not too shabby. And many parents gave more.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

SmartAlex:The poster was probably confusing last years salary with pension benefit. It is very possible in places like Fairfax or LI NY that the final salary of a teacher was 90K/year. But I find it hard to believe they get a 100% pension benefit of their highest salary for the rest of their life.

Most pension benefits cap at 80% of highest or average high but the average pension benefit is between 30-50% of the high. That would give the teacher around 45K/year pension benefit.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

10:11:Whoever organized your class gift was pretty tacky. I know that in our preschool class not every parent contributed the full $20. You can just do the math and tell. But the card was signed from the whole class. I don't think any one dreamed of singling out a child or their family for their lack of participation. Because not everyone can afford to contribute monetarily and evidently some do not wish to. The point was definitely to honor the job well done and not to make people look cheap or uncaring.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I am in a cash poor mode since I am a SAHM these days, so to get the lead and co-teacher a gift card, we cashed in some credit card points.

Teachers got a 2% raise in Fairfax County this year, and after volunteering in my child's classroom, I would have to say that is not enough!

Posted by: What we did.... | June 10, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

My kids are in kindergarten and second grade in public school. We make cards that the kids personalize for each teacher with drawings and their own words thanking the teacher. each child also made something for each teacher (their own idea). We also give gift cards to each teacher. In the kindergarten class, the room mom coordinated a gift that we also contributed to. Our PTA also does a big staff appreciation lunch and parents bring the food. We participated in that and it is my hope that the music, reading, media, art, science and PE teachers know that that event is our thanks to the entire staff including them. I also try to thank each of my child's teachers (including music, art etc) in person during the year. Our kids attend a before and after care at the school and we send food and give each counselor (there are 9) a small itunes gift card. My second grader wrote a thank you note in spanish to her spanish teacher. I will probably also write a note of thanks over the summer to the principal copying the teacher, with specifics on each child.

My mother was a teacher until literally the day she died (she died of a brain aneurysm on her way to the school), and I know how hard she worked for her students. So it would never occur to me not to thank the teachers and staff in some way.

Posted by: montgomery village md mom | June 10, 2008 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"fundraisers are just something for SAHM to get involved with to keep from being bored and give them something to do. "

Yup.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"By the way, if there are thirty children in the classroom, and each contributes 25 dollars, then the teacher in question receives: 750 dollars at Christmas, 750 dollars at Teacher Appreciation Day and another 750 dollars at the end of the year, all off the books, taxfree. Not too shabby. And many parents gave more.
"

Quite so.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

At "Back to School night", our room parents collect a set amount from each family ($100) to cover all class parties,teacher gifts, thank yous to support staff, and other incidentals -it works beautifully, the teachers receive a quality gift from the class, and parents don't feel so "nickeled and dimed" throughout the year.

Posted by: agratefulparent | June 10, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

This blog and commenters are eveything that is wrong with society

Are there any normal non-helicoptor parents that actually have lives, and don't worry about their kdis 24/7 anymore

If not I swear if I ever have kids I am running from this area as fast as I can

No wonder there are so many spoiled brats in the world today

Posted by: what a joke | June 10, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"9:10: We gave small gifts to our teachers when I was in school in the mid 70s. I have seen movies where kids were presenting Christmas gifts to teachers as far back as the 50s (protrayed in the movie). So it is not a new thing at all in the US. "


I assume you didn't grow up in poverty...
No, it's not a new thing in the US. The dark side is covered very well in the novel "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".

Posted by: Spike | June 10, 2008 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind giving a small teacher gift or bus driver, but this year our teacher went on maternity leave. we had a baby shower with a class and individual gifts, a farewell gift, a welcome for the new teacher (who is really just a sub), and now a thank you gift for the sub. Frankly, I do not need a lifelong relationship, nor does my daughter, with her first-grade teacher. Teachers are there to do a job. And parents can be their partners, but I like to keep the relationship professional.

Posted by: FFx Res | June 10, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm a speech therapist in a public school and while I can't speak for all teachers, I know that I've kept every single note and handmade card ever given to me (and reread them every once in a while) but I've completely forgotten who gave me the $25 Target gift card one year.
Just sayin'.

Posted by: awb1 | June 10, 2008 10:45 AM | Report abuse

" This blog and commenters are eveything that is wrong with society"

Everything that is wrong with society? Phew, that's a big load for us all to carry. But I'm sure that collectively, we can manage. Thanks for your input.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 10, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

to foamgnome: "SmartAlex:The poster was probably confusing last years salary with pension benefit. It is very possible in places like Fairfax or LI NY that the final salary of a teacher was 90K/year. But I find it hard to believe they get a 100% pension benefit of their highest salary for the rest of their life."

Now that I can understand. But look back at the original post - it says "My friend's father retired several years ago from teaching HS math with a $90,000+ yearly pension. Her parents sold their house and retired to FL, living the life."

So the original poster would have to be truly naive to make that mistake - or the original poster simply made it up.

Posted by: SmartAlex | June 10, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I used to teach high school, and I rarely got gifts. I did appreciate the notes kids wrote about a particular thing they learned.

My kids are still in preschool - we had to cough up $20 for the end of year gift.

When I was teaching, I always wished that parents would write a note to the principal telling him what a good job I was doing. I plan to do that for my own kids, if I think the teacher is doing a good job.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

" This blog and commenters are eveything that is wrong with society"

Learn how to spell!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

one thought for teachers

Every year in December I get my kids' teachers a small gift card with a note or drawing made by the child. In seven years and over 20 teachers I have received TWO personalized thank you notes. All the other teachers who do bother to acknowledge the gifts merely send a preprinted note with absolutely no personalization. Trust me this factors into what I contribute at the end of the year.

Posted by: jotb | June 10, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Many teachers actually GET end of year bonuses based on how their students do on standardized tests. It is not up to parents to provide end of year bonuses to the teachers. My broker also gets an end of the year bonus from the financial services company he works for, but it's not up to me to provide it.
___________________________________________

Seriously, because God forbid anyone get one iota more than YOU think they deserve. God forbid we value and appreciate those who care for and educate our children. Wouldn't it be terrible if we as a society paid those who help to mold our children the most?

Posted by: Moxiemom | June 10, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

"All the other teachers who do bother to acknowledge the gifts merely send a preprinted note with absolutely no personalization. Trust me this factors into what I contribute at the end of the year."

So what? You have a ghetto attitude.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Moxiemom

"Seriously, because God forbid anyone get one iota more than YOU think they deserve. "

That's how capitalism works...
Most parents are (school) consumers and most were (school)consumers as kids...

Darwinism takes its course...

Posted by: Adam Smith | June 10, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

My mother retired as a NYC teacher in 2001 and she does receive an annual pension of 90K. So it does happen some places, even though it is the exception rather than the rule. She still has handwritten thank you notes hanging up in her home. Personally, I am just glad she survived teaching, as she had a gun pulled on her in the classroom twice, was attacked and robbed outside her school once, and was injured trying to break up a fight.

Posted by: To Smart Alex | June 10, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Sheesh, What do people expect from the teacher, a thankyou note for the thankyou gift? Then what? A thankyou for the thankyou note for the thankyou card for the thankyou gift? When does it ever end?

Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I sense a lot of resentment from the comments so far. Gifts should in no way be expected or required, whether by a teacher or by other parents. Many of these class collections in particular sound problematic. I am troubled, however, by the assumption that the motivation for this gift-giving, appreciation, or whatever it is ends in elementary school.

"I also assume they do less for the older children. Preschool teachers are responsible for so much of the little things that older kids can take care of themselves."

I'm not asking for money, gift cards, presents, or even notes, but if you've ever met a middle school student you'll know that they require a heck of a lot of support. If gifts are a matter of showing appreciation, thanks, and respect, then a subject teacher who has worked hard with your child deserves recognition as well.

My favorite gift of all time: a Christmas ornament with a model of a chocolate molecule drawn on it.

My gift suggestion: Bring in home-baked or store bought goodies for the faculty lounge. This is appreciated by all of your child's teachers, and brightens their day within the school context just as they work to brighten your child's day. This is what I plan to do when I have kids.

Posted by: Middle School Teacher | June 10, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I am not saying middle school or HS teachers do not deserve some recognition. But you can't be serious that a MS or HS teacher gives each and every student the same support that a preschool or an elementary school teacher gives their students (on average). If nothing else, the MS and HS teacher has a minimum of five classes of 20 + kids in it. That is a 100 students. How would they have the time to devote to 100 kids that a teacher who has 5-20 kids in their charge.

Preschool teachers do everything from helping feed, dress and change kids who have accidents as well as educate them.

Elementary school teachers are still organizing, copying, and making sure all those Tuesday flyers go home in each kids back pack.

MS and HS students sit and listen to a preprogrammed announcement on the loud speaker.

Not to be rude, but get real. MS and HS teachers main job is to educate the kids. And yes, they deserve credit. But the vast majority of them are NOT nurturing each and every student. Nor should they. The kids should be fairly independent at that age.

Posted by: Are you serious | June 10, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Middle School Teacher

"My gift suggestion: Bring in home-baked or store bought goodies for the faculty lounge. This is appreciated by all of your child's teachers, and brightens their day within the school context just as they work to brighten your child's day. This is what I plan to do when I have kids."

Ha, ha!! Most of the teachers are fat slobs!!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

"Bring in home-baked or store bought goodies for the faculty"

Great gift for the diabetic teacher your child hated and got a bad grade from.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Gifts for Teachers" has previously been covered on this blog.

Today's comments are a rehash of a rehash of a rehash.....


It has nothing to do with manners. A "Thank You" DOES NOT require a gift. The gift is OPTIONAL.

It's a choice. It's always a choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

To the 11:34 poster: The page http://jd2718.wordpress.com/the-new-uft-contract/new-uft-nyc-doe-teacher-pay-scale-salary-charts/

has the CURRENT (June 2008) salary table for New York City teachers. In order to make 90,000 per year in salary today a teacher has to have a graduate degree and at least 20 years experience. And the maximum salary is right at 100,000.

Teacher pensions are covered by the New York State Teachers' Retirement System (www.nystrs.org). They provide calculators for figuring pension benefits. For someone who started teaching right out of college, say at 21, and worked until 65, that's 44 years. The pension benefit according to the retirement system in that case would be 81% of your final average pay (the average of your final 3 or 5 years salaries). In order for 81% of your final average pay to equal 90K, your final average pay would have to be 111,000 per year - but the maximum salary today, 7 years after this person's retirement, is 100,000.

So again, I have a really hard time believing this.

Yes, I understand that administrators - principals, assistant principals, deputy superintendents, central office personnel - can make way, way more money than teachers, so it's possible that someone can start as a teacher and wind up with a 90K pension. But a teacher, no - I don't see it.

Posted by: SmartAlex | June 10, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism takes its course...

_______________________

Darwinsim is survival of the fittest. Were you among the fittest you might recognize the value to a little kindness once in awhile. Whoever is the biggest a-hole doesn't necessarily win. Again, were you wiser, you would know that.

Posted by: Moxiemom | June 10, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

"Bear in mind that Shandra is Canadian. Shandra, do you live in Ontario? Because if she does, she's subsidizing both the local, secular public schools and the local, public Catholic schools. Yes, the Catholic schools in Ontari-ari-ario are funded through tax dollars."

Yup, that's right. :) Provincial tax dollars, and overall I think they are pretty well spent here.

Posted by: Shandra | June 10, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Moxiemom

"Whoever is the biggest a-hole doesn't necessarily win. Again, were you wiser, you would know that."


Mmmm. Yesterday you said that the SMARTEST were the winners.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

"Darwinsim is survival of the fittest. Were you among the fittest you might recognize the value to a little kindness once in awhile. "

Natural Selection has no mercy.

Posted by: Huh? | June 10, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

My mother was a kindergarten teacher at a Catholic school for 22 years and topped out at a salary of 32K. She was responsible making a child's first school experience a positive one, teaching basic reading and arithmetic, and encouraging appropriate school behavior and a love and curiosity for learning. Her favorite gifts were thank you notes written by the child or parent. It made her feel appreciated.
Just last week, about 4 years into her retirement, she got an invitation from old students inviting her to their 8th grade graduation. Included in the invitation was a note with these students' memories of kindergarten and a heartfelt thanks. It made my mom cry - she was truly touched by their thoughtfulness. At the end of the day, it is the thought that counts, much more than anything material.

Posted by: lca | June 10, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

My mother was a kindergarten teacher at a Catholic school for 22 years and topped out at a salary of 32K. She was responsible making a child's first school experience a positive one, teaching basic reading and arithmetic, and encouraging appropriate school behavior and a love and curiosity for learning. Her favorite gifts were thank you notes written by the child or parent. It made her feel appreciated.
Just last week, about 4 years into her retirement, she got an invitation from old students inviting her to their 8th grade graduation. Included in the invitation was a note with these students' memories of kindergarten and a heartfelt thanks. It made my mom cry - she was truly touched by their thoughtfulness. At the end of the day, it is the thought that counts, much more than anything material.

Posted by: lca | June 10, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"Darwinsim is survival of the fittest. Were you among the fittest you might recognize the value to a little kindness once in awhile. "


And I would know how to spell....

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I think that giving teachers a gift whether it is cash or a gift card is nice and appropriate. My sister is a 1st grade teacher who works at least 12 hours every day. She has been teaching for 20 years, has her masters, and now makes $64k a year. That is sad. If we value our children and the teacher is the person spending the most time with them then why wouldn't we want to reward them for doing a good job? It is called appreciation. So give $10 and skip three of your Starbucks coffees this week.

Posted by: amelia | June 10, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I have spent the last 30 years in public education, many of them as a classroom teacher and building principal. The "gifts" that I cherish and have kept over the years are the personal correspondence from the parents, staff, and students I have had the pleasure to work with. It is gratifying to know that you have made a difference in someone's life or career. I particularly enjoy the letters from former students who pursued careers that were influenced by my class. This personal communication will be remembered and treasured long after the cookies, mugs, gift cards, ties, and other gifts are long forgotten.

Posted by: Mitchnrva | June 10, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I always gave giftcards to the elementary school teachers but once my daughters got to middle and high school with the number of teachers they had - 7, I couldn't budget for that. If they had wanted to take the initiative to give something to a favorite teachers then, I would have supported it. I think that gifts are more common at the elementary level.

Posted by: Maryann | June 10, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

What about the high school teacher that write 30 reccomendations to various colleges per year? Shoudl they get bonuses for that? My parents never got a bonus for teaching, which meant budgeting through the entire year for Christmas, etc. My father tutored, coached sports, and refereed sports in order to supplement his teaching career- he taught with two Masters degrees for 33 years and retired with a good pension, but was never what anyone would call well off.

Posted by: Ali | June 10, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Former Long Islander | June 10, 2008 9:40 AM

You're right its not like that everywhere. I have aunts, uncles, and cousins who teach in upstate NY - and they make a ton of money as teachers compared to my Aunt and Mother that teach in VA. You're 90k retirement pension is spot on.

However the New Yorkers pay more in county/city taxes and property taxes than we do. So the state is collecting the money to pay the teachers what they do. And before other public officals pipe up those good salaries apply to police, fireman, public defenders etc. Not the same in the DC area.

That does not excuse the fact that teachers should still be thanked for the job they do. They are spending 6 hours a day with your children teaching and for all those who say they already get paid a salary - you quit your job that is allowing you to blog during the day and spend day after day with 6 year olds and try and teach them to read and write.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

A thank you note from our child that is specific to what the child feels the teacher has done for them...

And a donation to the school in their name that honors the teacher and makes it easier for future children to attend field trips, participate in academic contests, and have the same fortunate experiences that my own child has had.

Posted by: Arlingtonian | June 10, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to chip in a comment for the high school teachers. Some of the most influential people in my life were high school teachers. And I don't mean because of their work in the classroom. They took the time to listen to me and help me through all my teenage angst- and I'm sure their salary didn't cover that extra time and effort! High schoolers need as much support and attention as younger children, just in different ways. HS teachers may not be changing diapers, but that doesn't cheapen what they are doing. Not only did I thank my teachers at the time, I still keep in touch with the ones who were special to me. When someone puts their time and energy into helping you grow and learn, they deserve thanks- whether they're salaried or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"Not to be rude, but get real. MS and HS teachers main job is to educate the kids. "And yes, they deserve credit. But the vast majority of them are NOT nurturing each and every student. Nor should they. The kids should be fairly independent at that age.

Posted by: Are you serious | June 10, 2008 11:51 AM"

So, are you saying that rewarding/thanking/giving-a-gift-to a teacher who has done an outstanding job only applies to elementary school teachers? HS/MS teachers shouldn't be treated the same just because the nature of their job is different?

Personally, I think that giving a gift is fine and not-giving a gift is fine. What is not fine is pressure put on parents to contribute because someone else said that they should. Donations toward group gifts should be optional and the amounts should not be dictated. I would have been upset at a request for $100 at back to school night. I like to consider each event and my family's level of participation as it occurs. I also find that there are more than enough back to school expenses without adding a year's worth of party expense on top.

You never know a family's personal circumstances, even in a wealthy area. People lose jobs, have medical expenses, extended families they may be helping, more than one child to consider, etc.

Posted by: huh? | June 10, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Teachers got a 2% raise in Fairfax County this year, and after volunteering in my child's classroom, I would have to say that is not enough!

Posted by: What we did.... | June 10, 2008 10:23 AM

FFX County teachers got a 2% COLA and their step, which has 20 levels. They got more like a 6-7% raise and do every year. Don't feel sorry for them, their Unions whine and cry for them enough every year that the School Board complains to the County Board and they buckle under the pressure. Firefighters, Police Officers and other County Employees got the 2%. PO's have a step for the first 8 years, after that nothing till year 15. I think they'd LOVE to have the pay scale and steps the teacher's do. I believe Firefighter's have the same as PO's, however I am not positive.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

All I know is I'd be HAPPY to give a card and home made gift. However, instead we have to cough up between $40-50 twice a year for our son's daycare teachers--this in a daycare where the fees are $1800 a month for part time care. I pay because it's what the group wants but it's ridiculous. What kind of message are we sending our kids that teachers need to be paid off to make the gift special? It really bothers me.

Posted by: Disgruntled in Boston | June 10, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"So give $10 and skip three of your Starbucks coffees this week."

I never go to Starbucks. We chose to live in an area with good schools. DH and I combined have an income that is low for the area, but we sacrifice in order to live here so our children can benefit from the educational system. Not everyone who lives in a "good" area has the same amount of disposable income. I vote for the hand-written notes, cookies, etc.

Posted by: lurker | June 10, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

From my own personal experience, there are some HS/MS teachers who have been very influential. But the truth is they have so many students that there is no way they devote the time and attention to each of them. In fact, I think they probably only influence maybe 30 out of their 130 kids they see each year.

So yes, they should be recognized by those 30 kids that stood out to them. But do they really deserve something from the other 100 kids that were just a grade in their minds? Probably not.

My guess is the kids that really appreciated their MS/HS teachers, were recognized by the students themselves! Whether it was a general heart felt thanks or a visit many years later.

But you really are not being honest with yourself if you think that each and every student (about 130/year) is even remotely touched by each teacher. The really exceptional (that doesn't mean just academically) and really rotten kids are the ones who get the attention. The poor middle of the row kids are just part of the masses.

Are you serious had it right. It is just a pure numbers game here. Most likely, even the most average elementary school teacher gets to know each of her 20-25 students better then the exceptional HS teacher who has 130 kids in their care for one hour a day each.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"She has been teaching for 20 years, has her masters, and now makes $64k a year."

$64k / 10 months = $6400/month * 12 = $76.8K.

Depends on your perspective whether or not it's a decent salary. Just make sure that you consider that they are only working 10 months and not 12.

I don't think teachers have it great, but I also believe that they have a better deal than they let on. At least in some counties.

Posted by: do the math | June 10, 2008 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Being raised by a family of teachers, every year (K-12th grade), my sister and I would give our teachers and their assistants an end of the year gift. It was usually a hanging basket of flowers or potted flowers or plant. They always seemed so happy to receive these gifts and to be remembered. My sister is now a teacher and yes, it's true, even though teachers are highly undervalued and under appreciated, she doesn't go to school everyday expecting to be thanked, but she sure feels great when she is. We should all make an effort to apprecite the people in our families' lives who make a difference.

Posted by: Carla dal Cais | June 10, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Most likely, even the most average elementary school teacher gets to know each of her 20-25 students better then the exceptional HS teacher who has 130 kids in their care for one hour a day each.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 1:24 PM

I don't think you're being honest with yourself if you think that teaching stops when the bell rings. Just ask a teacher.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Teachers do 12 months of work in 10 months. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise. I say this as the child of two teachers and a former teacher myself. When do you think correcting papers and lesson planning is done? In that "free block/period" you get each day? Not if you want to eat/pee/stop thinking about work for two seconds together. I worked my bottom off as a teacher and I don't know many who don't do the same. I got to school by 7:00, out at 3:45, and then home to correct papers and plan and prep for the next day.

So you do the math.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 10, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Who said teaching stops when the bell rings. But there is only so much time in the day. And there is no way they get to know each and every student (130) as well as someone who has 20 kids in their care. Doesn't make them bad people. It makes them human. Not to mention, some kids are just more memorable then others. And some kids may make an impression on one teachers (say the history teacher) and not others. It doesn't make the teacher a worse educator. But the heartfelt thanks are going to come from the kids that they made an impression on. Not the ones who were just a mere number to them.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I am a grade 1 teacher who puts plenty of her own money into her classroom so that kids can use 'extras' like neat art supplies, good markers, books at their reading level, and interesting storybooks, etc. I also put in hours upon hours of my free time doing things like making individualized end-of-the-year awards for each student, a homemade "yearbook" for kids to keep, etc.

Today I accidentally discovered that the parents of my students were chipping in for a gift for me. I was so touched and flattered! While I hope my students' parents did not feel obliged to spend money on me, I am so glad that they recognized the effort I have put into my work this year. Also, they set an example for their children that they value the school.

Posted by: Grade 1 Teacher | June 10, 2008 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Wow--what a controversial subject. My son is finishing up kindergarten with a wonderful teacher. We gave a nice card, some teaching supplies that I know she wanted, and a modest Target gift card in December. We also gave something to her aide. I'm kicking myself a I just got back from a lunch run to Target and wanted to pick up another gift card for her. I plan on having my son design a nice card and handwrite a note to her. She and her aide, as well as all the other teachers and administrators have made my son's first year a wonderful experience and I cannot repay them enough. BTW, I'm in Fairfax County. I say that if you appreciate someone, then it is not inappropriate to say thank you or give a gift. If you do not have the means, that's fine, nor do I think anything should be mandatory.

Posted by: Jen | June 10, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"And there is no way they get to know each and every student (130) as well as someone who has 20 kids in their care"

By the time my child was in third grade, she went to one teacher for reading, one for math, and one for science. The reading teacher taught the reading to the entire grade and was the homeroom teacher for one/third of the grade and also taught the other subjects (social studies, health, etc) to the homeroom class. The math teacher taught math to the entire grade and was homeroom teacher for one third. The same for the science teacher. There were separate teachers for music, art and phys ed.

So even in elem school, a teacher could be teaching up to 90 different children each day.

And planning was easier too, since the teachers had to plan for only math, reading, or science and not all three.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

i teach for the love of it...i get many gifts..some baked...some homemade...some gift cards..once I even got two (not my style) matching pillows for my couch

When does the politeness end...do I really have to write a thankyou note for a thankyou...this could start a vicious cycle of un-ending thankyous....


I appreciate being recognized for my hard work!

Posted by: 1stgradeteacher | June 10, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

2:07: In a school district like the one your child is in, do they designate one teacher as a homeroom teacher? Or is a child not really put in anyone's direct care? In the case of your child, again, I don't think it would be common or necessary for a parent to give a thank you note or a card to each and everyone of the 7 teachers that see your child. Probably only the ones that you thought had a direct impact on your child. Again, the idea is not to shake down parents for the most amount of money. But to recognize the people in your child's life who have made a difference.

Posted by: foamgnome | June 10, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The school's PTSA fundraiser includes gift-wrap, note cards, candy, candles, mugs, etc. I buy several of the nicer items and save them for teacher gifts. Kills two birds with one stone.

Posted by: a mom | June 10, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

And I would know how to spell....


Posted by: | June 10, 2008 12:25 PM

When you have a cogent (look it up) argument I'd be happy to have a discussion with you. Until then, I'm going to give a little extra to our teachers to make up for trolls like you that don't give. I'm sure your child is a delight to have in class.

Posted by: Moxiemom | June 10, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

"once I even got two (not my style) matching pillows for my
couch"

Teachers are often the victims of regifting and popsickle art projects. A neighbor of mine, a 2nd grade teacher with a great sense of humor, called me up and tried to unload some of her year end gifts - paperweights, "World's Greatest Teacher" dust collectors, and get this, a wine bottle candle holders decorated by melted crayons. Hilareous!

Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for what? Public school teachers are very well paid for 6 hr and 50 min of repetitive non-physical labor, 5 days a week, 9 months a year. Tour guides at Disney World are more mentally taxed. When America's public schools start graduating cohorts of students with the same levels of literacy and numeracy as the ones who graduated in the 40's, 50's, and 60's, then I will be thankful and respectful. Until then, I will reserve greater esteem for the Disney tour guides.

Posted by: Don't Pander | June 10, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

See my blog for a story about my teacher gifts:
www.trilliumcreates.blogspot.com

Posted by: trillium | June 10, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

"I appreciate being recognized for my hard work!"

So do I, and the thanks I get is clearly printed on the upper right hand corner of the check!

Posted by: DandyLion | June 10, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

"So give $10 and skip three of your Starbucks coffees this week."

I never go to Starbucks. We chose to live in an area with good schools. DH and I combined have an income that is low for the area, but we sacrifice in order to live here so our children can benefit from the educational system.


Posted by: lurker | June 10, 2008 1:21 PM

how nice for you. You move to an area so your children can benefit from a great system. for this you sacrifice in your own words. That sacrifice apparently cannot be extended far enough to produce even a $20 contribution to a group gift. In other words, you'll scimp only as far but no farther than the point where your family directly benefits.

Look up "rationalizing" in the dictionary and you'll see your own photo.

Posted by: a legend in her own mind | June 10, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Darwinism takes its course...

Posted by: Adam Smith | June 10, 2008 11:24 AM


These types are the first to cry about the "unfairness" of life. Mercy is always in style.

Posted by: To monkeyboy adam smith | June 10, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks for what? Public school teachers are very well paid for 6 hr and 50 min of repetitive non-physical labor, 5 days a week, 9 months a year"

Not in my book. There is not enough money to pay me to spend that much time with some bratty kids. Hats off to teachers!

Posted by: ha! | June 10, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

When I was in elementary school (early 80s....), every Christmas Mom and I would buy stationary for my teacher, and I'd usually make something. Mom had always given stationary to her teachers when she was in school.

I'm not so comfy with giving money or gift cards, but then again, I'm not so comfy with gift cards, 'cause they're so impersonal. Still, for a teacher--much better than another mug/candle/other miscellaneous gift.

Posted by: Annapolis | June 10, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"Thanks for what? Public school teachers are very well paid for 6 hr and 50 min of repetitive non-physical labor, 5 days a week, 9 months a year."

WOW....anyone who thinks teaching is repetative has never set foot in an elementary school. Each child is different. Each class is different. WoW...i don't know what else to say to a post like this

Posted by: 1stgradeteacher | June 10, 2008 2:34 PM | Report abuse

"I never go to Starbucks. We chose to live in an area with good schools. DH and I combined have an income that is low for the area, but we sacrifice in order
to live here so our children can benefit from the educational system."

Yikes! Another parental martyr. They are everywhere nowadays!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

"That sacrifice apparently cannot be extended far enough to produce even a $20 contribution to a group gift"

More than one child, more than one teacher, sports coach, Sunday school teacher, Girl Scout leader.

More than one event, Teacher appreciation, Christmas, end-of-year gift. Comes out to more than $20 per year.

I don't think that I ever said that I didn't believe in showing appreciation and thanks. What I wrote was "I vote for the hand-written notes, cookies, etc." I also help out and show thanks by volunteering in the classroom during the year. Since I work full-time so I am using annual leave when I volunteer.

I think the problem here is that some people think that it's ok to show thanks anyway you choose, and others think that you should fork over money or buy gifts.

Posted by: lurker | June 10, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

anyone who thinks teaching is not phyisical has never worked: without AC, leaning over helping 6 year olds, sitting on the floor, teaching academics along with the golden rule.

Posted by: firstgradeteacher | June 10, 2008 2:38 PM | Report abuse

$10 for preschool? In my son's church preschool the rate was $50 for Christmas and $25 for "teacher appreciation week." You'd have to be a serious miser to only give $10. That's sick for preschool where the teachers are probably getting $20k per year. I can't believe anyone is that cheap.

Posted by: DCer | June 10, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

"Public school teachers are very well paid for 6 hr and 50 min of repetitive non-physical labor, 5 days a week, 9 months a year"

Hahahahahaha!! That's rich. I grew up with a teacher (first high school, then college). And all I can say is, I decided I didn't want to work nearly that hard. So I became a lawyer instead.

Posted by: Laura | June 10, 2008 2:42 PM | Report abuse

"Yikes! Another parental martyr. They are everywhere nowadays!"

No, not a martyr and sorry you see it that way. Just saying that we have less disposable income than others in our area so we have to be sure we spend it wisely. So we opt for the hand-written notes and cookies. it is a great school system and all the teachers are deserving. if it was only one teacher, then $20 for a gift is fine. it's the $100 over the course of a year for several teachers, coaches, etc that we won't spend.

Why is it that someone who has a different opinion or style is insulted on this blog? Do we have to be clones of each other?

Posted by: lurker | June 10, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

From WorkingMomX:

Teachers do 12 months of work in 10 months. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise. I say this as the child of two teachers and a former teacher myself. When do you think correcting papers and lesson planning is done? In that "free block/period" you get each day? Not if you want to eat/pee/stop thinking about work for two seconds together. I worked my bottom off as a teacher and I don't know many who don't do the same. I got to school by 7:00, out at 3:45, and then home to correct papers and plan and prep for the next day.

So you do the math.

------------------------------------------

Standing ovation!!!!!!!

Posted by: Lynne | June 10, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I read the blog and comments with interest today because just this morning I asked my first grader what she wanted to get for her teacher, and she stated thoughtfully after a few minutes, "I want to make him a really nice thank you card."

Last year, when she was in Kindergarten, her teacher (who I thought did a really excellent job with my daughter as well as with the whole class) had cats who had kittens about a week before school was out. Being clever, I got a $25 gift card to Petco--something I knew she was use--and wrote a short but sweet note to go along with it...something along the lines of "thank you for helping take care of and teach my baby this year; here is something to help you take care and teach your new babies." She opened the gift and card while I was in the classroom, burst into happy tears, and gave me a hug. (But we didn't get a thank-you note...and I don't hold a grudge for that.)

At our elementary school, all the room parents are in charge of collecting $$ from other families in that class. This is done at the beginning of the school year via a prepared flyer that is essentially the same for each class (we change contact info, etc.). The flyers go home in the kids' backpacks, the $$ money comes back in envelopes that the teachers collect and send home with the kid of the room parent. We live in a racially, ethnically, and economically diverse school cluster, so not all families contribute (the suggested contribution is a mere $5, and that is supposed to help cover costs for Halloween and Valentine's Day parties as well as group Teacher Appreciation week gifts). As a room parent for two years in both elementary and preschool, I have contributed way more than my "share" to ensure that the teachers have what they need as well as some niceties along the way. Some parents also contribute more than $5 at the beginning of the school year. (And I know that some, but not all, send in gifts or at least cards at Christmas time as well as at the end of the year.) It takes a creative and spend-thrifty room parent to make that money stretch throughout the year. The hardest part is sending out the reminder notices a second or third time and then just giving up and dealing with what you've got.

For us personally this year, the first grade teacher just moved to a new place in December and was compeltely frazzled (the school moved into a new building at the same time as well). A simple "here's a brand-new coffee cup and pound of coffee" (which we know he likes) "to help take the stress away as you continue to ensure that our daughter loves to learn" I felt was sufficient. (Didn't get a thank-you note for that.) Also, in the early fall, the teacher posted a book wish list with the Scholastic book fair, and my daughter and I picked a really lovely (and expensive, IMO) book for the classroom. Sometime in January, I think, we got a generic typed thank-you note, which I thought was tackier than just not sending one at all. (But then again, I was brought up to write detailed, hand-written thank you notes for every gift ever received, and I'm starting to pass that down to my kids as well in terms of their birthday gifts right now....)

For our preschool, I'm not sure that anyone gives out personal gifts to teachers other than the occasional flowers but they are definitely encouraged to contribute to group gifts for the teachers at Hanukkah and the end of the school year. The suggested donation is $5-$10 per teacher. There are some families who refuse to contribute and others who are financially unable, and the rest usually send in $10 per teacher. In my 5-year-old's class this year, the two teachers each got about $25 worth of goodies from Bath and Body Works as well as a $75 gift card to Target. They were both extremely appreciative. It really helps if you know what the teachers like and are likely to use.

To everyone who thinks that room parents are almost exclusively SAHMs, I have news for you. I work full time and have been a room parent (at the same time) in two different schools. It's a way for me to stay connected to what my kids are doing and to also contribute to the class since I can't be there to volunteer in person (which I'd rather do) on a regular basis. I make every effort to give my associated families enough notice for any event or collection we have and to keep them informed throughout the year of ways they can help the teachers.

For the one who said that they expect a minimum of $25 per student to contribute to an end-of-year teacher gift, I find that excessive. My sister has been a public elementary teacher (in MD and NJ) for over 20 years and she gets some really ridiculous stuff--but she has shared with me some of the nicest notes from grateful parents as well as students and says that they mean much more to her than smelly candles or a gift certificate to a nail salon.

I'm also reminded that I need to "get something" for the 7 or 8 staffers who work in the before/after care program at the elementary school. My budget is being stretched a bit thin, so a short note/card from my daughter and some SUGAR FREE (works for diabetics--even though none of them are in this group) jelly bellies in my daughter's favorite flavors will have to suffice...and I think it will.

Posted by: MD Room Parent | June 10, 2008 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Thank you also to the wonderful room parents. Mine has made kindergarten so easy. It is her third child and she makes
it easy to volunteer (which DH likes) and does not ask for money often which I like.

I hope we are in the same class next year.

Posted by: shdd | June 10, 2008 2:59 PM | Report abuse

A friend of mine who lives in the Denver/Boulder area said she wrote a short note and sent in a $50 check for each of her daughter's main preschool teachers during Teacher Appreciation week.

I don't have those kinds of funds. Instead, with the little bit of money we had left over that was collected from our first grader's class, we got a gift card to a salon that her teacher likes to go to but doesn't frequent because it is so expensive and spent the remainder of the funds on a few supplies (frame, posterboard) to make the coolest gift in which the room parents took pictures of all the kids using their bodies to spell out an appreciative note to the teacher and have signed their names on the mat surrounding the collage. Does it increase the teacher's salary? No, but the message is clear: the kids had an awesome time doing something to show their appreciation for their great teacher--and the teacher in turn got a real conversation piece that he can cherish for years.

Posted by: MD Room Parent | June 10, 2008 3:15 PM | Report abuse

To montgomery village md mom: What a great idea, having a thank-you note to the Spanish teacher be written in Spanish! I wish I had thought of that!

I will be sure that my daughter writes a note to all the "specials" teachers she had this year...after all, they also helped her in her growth and development!

Posted by: MD Room Parent | June 10, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Why is it that someone who has a different opinion or style is insulted on this blog?

Posted by: lurker | June 10, 2008 2:43 PM

If you are so confident in your rationalizations and choices, why interpret a challenge to your thinking as an insult? How defensive we can be when our hypocrisy and self-centered delusions are held up to the light.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

To the person who has more respect for Disney tour guides than teachers, may I suggest you send your children to Disney World for an education, then?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 10, 2008 3:41 PM | Report abuse

If you are so confident in your rationalizations and choices, why interpret a challenge to your thinking as an insult? How defensive we can be when our hypocrisy and self-centered delusions are held up to the light.

Ummm... calling someone a parental martyr seems to be an insult rather than a challenge to someone's thinking.

Posted by: anon for this | June 10, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Teachers do 12 months of work in 10 months. You're kidding yourself if you think otherwise.
-----

My son's teacher complained that he only "Got paid" for 35 hours per week, but was asked to work 40-45 hours a week and he barely made it to graduate school classes at GMU at 5pm. If he was driving from DC to GMU during rush hour he'd have to leave about 3:45pm, so disabuse yourself of the notion that teachers work until 6pm- they do not.

This summer he is going to Spain to study art for the entire summer break.

45 hours per week for let's guesstimate, 43 weeks out of the year is 1935 hours. I work approximately 48 hours per week, 8 hours a day at the office and usually about 60-90 minutes at home writing reports. I get 10 days vacation leave and no more.

48 hours a week, 50 weeks a year equals 2400 hours.

From my back of the envelope guess I put in an additional 400+ hours than he did. Of course I probably got paid twice what he got paid, but only a fool would think teachers work as hard as a manager looking after 8 staff.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

lurker, I know how you feel. The trolls and losers on this blog will try to slam anyone. I usually try to just do what I do with my kids when they get bratty -- IGNORE -- but sometimes it's hard. Just think what it must be like to be them. Yuck.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 10, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I certainly think giving a nice gift of thanks is appropriate and would be welcome. But like all gifts should not be expected.

I also dislike the unasked for request for group gift- in WHATEVER form it comes.

Posted by: Liz D | June 10, 2008 4:01 PM | Report abuse

We've always given a gift to older son's inclusion teachers. Working with a group of autistic and aspergers kids requires an incredible level of patience and dedication. We usually get a Visa gift card, which means the teacher can use it anywhere just like cash. Since I work for a financial services company, I can get the cards without a service fee. We always include a note saying something about our son's progress, and asking them to use the card for something for themselves and their family - not for the classroom.

We also donate to the kids' schools directly. My employer matches gifts to educational facilities, so my minor payroll deduction gets each school double what I put in. The day our elementary school principal thanked me for that donation, and said it was sending my kid's entire grade (three classrooms) on a field trip to the CA History Museum, was one of the most memorable...

I've never done anything for the thanks I'll get, and always done it so the schools and teachers could have those little extras.

Posted by: Sue | June 10, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Timely. We just started final exams today. I teach math and science at a small private high school and don't even get half of 90K! I like my commute, though.
This year I got three thank-you gifts. (1) Two packs of colored dry-erase markers. Love it, love it, love it! She noticed I'm always using colors to illustrate my points, and always having to throw out markers. And the office manager will only buy black dry-erase markers. The paying attention in class was as sweet as the markers. (2) A set of notecards. I can write the thank-you note on one of them. This from a student not in my class who I was tutoring after school - free to her. Yes, I deserve a thank-you for that. She deserved help, she couldn't understand her teacher's methods very well, but it was above and beyond for me. (3) A photo album, blank. Nice enough.

I'm chipping in $10 for my daughter's teacher's gift from the class, and organizing a class scrapbook of the year. Each child is contributing a page.

Bottom line - thank-you notes and teacher supplies are best. You help me get classroom supplies and I get to take home my (oh-so-large) salary. Plus, no real feeling of bribery, since you're actually buying a gift for next year's students.

Posted by: inBoston | June 10, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention above, we also did the Visa gift card (in a smaller amount) for our boy's one-on-one aide when he had one who was dedicated to him all day.

This year he's had a different aide in each class, and last year I think he had three different aides in his different classes over the school day, so we didn't do the gift cards because no single person was spending their entire day with our boy.

Posted by: Sue | June 10, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

To Anon at 3:59--If he was driving from DC to GMU during rush hour he'd have to leave about 3:45pm, so disabuse yourself of the notion that teachers work until 6pm- they do not.

------------------------------------

Not necessarily true. Your child's teacher complained that he worked more hours than those for which he was paid and he barely had time to get to his graduate class at GMU. Ok, that's this one particular teacher. Perhaps he did not work as many hours as you do. So? Does he represent all teachers? He does not.

When I taught, I arrived earlier than required, stayed later than required, and took work home each night and on weekends. I was in the larger group of teachers--those who work beyond the contract. Those who only work to contract and then complain about it are in the minority. Of course, the squeaky wheel gets the most attention....

Posted by: Lynne | June 10, 2008 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Plus, I doubt that a manager supervising eight people works harder than a teacher who deals with 150 students a day (my work load) unless that manager is micromanaging each person on his/her team. I watch managers at my job, and yes they do work, but they are not breathing down their subordinates' necks all day either.

I'd have to say that the best part of working in a (ahem) "real" job is that I can go to the bathroom when I need to instead of when the bell rings and I can make it there and back in the few minutes between classes.

Posted by: Lynne | June 10, 2008 5:13 PM | Report abuse

To those people griping about thank you notes, consider who would be delivering the note before making assumptions that a gift wasn't appreciated! As a public school elementary teacher, I receive several gifts around the holiday season and at the end of the year as do many other teachers (Although, I don't know of anyone who is "raking in" over $700 worth of gifts as is ridiculously suggested above!). Most teachers I know write notes right away and give them to the children to take home. I can't tell you how many opened holiday thank you notes turn up in the trash or in desks or backpacks at the end of the year. Many students read the notes and then never take them home. Last year, I actually started mailing notes home because I know my students get a kick out of receiving mail.

Posted by: Relax with the Thank You Notes! | June 10, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Plus, I doubt that a manager supervising eight people works harder than a teacher who deals with 150 students a day (my work load)
----------

Lynne, you are hardly representative of most teachers. In my son's elementary school class there are no classes with more than 24 students. I can't imagine a teacher with a class of 150 kids, but I don't doubt in some overcrowded schools this is possible.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

1) the education is not 'free' it is paid for by taxes.

2) no teachers don't make a lot, but my MIL is a teacher and just retired, not such a bad life, trust me.

3) growing up, not only were we discouraged, we were NOT ALLOWED to give gifts, because of the way it would look (um, these people GRADE THE KIDS - and are the final say - pretty much - in whether the kids get promoted/pass - bribe, anyone?)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 10, 2008 9:31 PM | Report abuse

9:02, I am guessing that Lynne was a middle or high school teacher, hence the 150 (6 classes of 25 kids). I taught at least that many kids (middle and high school). My favorite gift? A homemade tea bag holder made of felt with one tea bag in it (I drank herbal tea all the time and it was so touching that the kid a)noticed and b)made the little holder all by herself). I also really appreciated all the parents who bought paper to take the edge off paying for copies. Forget gifts, though, I really was blown away by the nurse who worked full time (night shifts) and then volunteered a full day *each week* in my class and my partner's class (I taught English/history and my partner taught math/science to 7th graders). She told us she wanted to collate papers, make copies, and do whatever jobs she could to help us out, because, as she put it, then we'd have more time to spend with the kids working with them on what mattered. She rocked. I still think about her now that I am a parent and it makes me determined to volunteer and honor my kids' teachers. And yes, this woman gave me gifts: art supplies for my classroom, since we did lots of interdisciplinary projects.

I can only comment on the teacher end for ms and high school...I agree that I never looked for tangible or monetary gifts -- but if you are happy as a parent with the education your child received, tell the teacher. Some people called me, some wrote notes, but all the heartfelt appreciation I got meant a lot to me. Like Lynne, I worked far past the contract, as did many of the teachers I respected. Try grading anything you've assigned to 150 kids! Just multiply any amount of time (let's say just spending 5 minutes reading an essay) times 150.

In general, I agree with the above: parent gifts should not be a shakedown (at our school, the amount given is up to the parents, and we work towards making sure each parent knows an effort to honor the teachers is going on, but leave it at that - and the card is signed from the whole class). I totally get the people whose limited finances preclude them giving. I just don't understand (underscored by the vitriol in this blog commentary) the folks who are so determined not to give a dollar to the teachers. When, as someone else pointed out, if you get your haircut, you tip the stylist. Odd.

Right now I'm just struggling with the fact that our class gift to our teacher is not even close to the amount I know she's spent out of her own pocket on supplies over the past year because she really loves these kids....

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | June 10, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Teachers are no worse off financially than anyone else. check out www.stopteacherstrikes.org for a complete listing of the salaries of teachers here in PA. I am not saying teachers don't work hard or deserve everything they earn, but a teacher in my kids' district has FREE health care and starts at about 38,000. Plenty of our districts teachers are making close to six figures. That to me is not something to complain about...

As for the topic of gifts, my girls each picks out or makes something small. We will invite any especially beloved teacher over for lunch in the summer and I do send notes to the teachers and also the principal about that teacher. Their job is a difficult one and if they are doing it well they deserve to be recognized.

Posted by: Momof5 | June 10, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

My daughter is a teacher in your area.
The school budget in that high income county cannot provide all the school supplies that are needed for their classes.
She spends hundreds of dollars on teaching materials and supplies for the students each year. This does not include the many, many weeks she ponies up lunch money for children who are not given it at home, are not packed a lunch by their parent(s), and are not on a free lunch/reduced lunch program. She refuses to let a child be hungry, it may be the only meal they have that day. She does not expect gifts, her best gift is a happy child who is proud of what he/she has learned.

Posted by: Ohio | June 11, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

fr Amelia:

>For Kindergarten teachers?? It was $41,000/year AND the teachers have summers off and much more vacation time than the attorneys....

Teachers do NOT "have summers off and more vacation time...". I don't know where you got THAT idea, but teachers work UNPAID overtime by grading homework, prepping the next day's lessons, making sure the classroom bulletin board is up to date, supplies are there, etc. In the summers, teachers are working 2nd jobs to put food on the table, they are taking classes to keep their credentials current.

In short, get a life and grow UP.

Posted by: Alex | June 11, 2008 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Alex, you have tried distributing these falsehoods before, please stop. Everyone I know brings work home, you grow up.

As for the pay, if you can not get a 12 month payroll, I suggest you budget properly. I learned how to do this in HS.

If you can work summers, consider yourself lucky, no one else gets 10 frickin' weeks off to do so.

I suggest if you are THAT stinkin miserable being a teacher, quit. If you thought you were going to be on easy street on a teacher's salary you are a gullible fool.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 11, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Lynne, you are hardly representative of most teachers. In my son's elementary school class there are no classes with more than 24 students. I can't imagine a teacher with a class of 150 kids, but I don't doubt in some overcrowded schools this is possible.

Posted by: | June 10, 2008 9:02 PM
------------------------------------------

MamaBird, you are right to correct the 9:02 PM poster, and it made me realize that I should have clarified that I was not an elementary school teacher--I taught junior high students. I had five classes of 30-33 students each. And when I was in school back in the 1950s and early 1960s, we had close to 30 students in a class also.

No one other than a college lecturer has 150 students in one class. Seems obvious to me, but not to everyone I guess.

Posted by: Lynne | June 11, 2008 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I am an elementary teacher, and to be honest, I find the gift giving embarrassing. One year I was handed $100 cash by the room parent. I was mortified, and also a little bit saddened that running to the ATM to get 5 crisp twenties was what the class thought would be a nice thank you. I love the letters I get from children - one student almost had me in tears the other day with her letter of thanks for the year. Most amazing are the letters my principal gets about me and my teaching. Not only are they complementary, they let my boss know more about how I do my job - and they become a part of my personnel file. All good!

Posted by: lovemyjob | June 11, 2008 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I think a cash gift is a bit tacky. But if your really that offended by the gift, I suggest you donate the money to charity or buy supplies for your classroom. When it doubt you can send it to me.:)

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2008 7:20 AM | Report abuse

I taught H.S. for 35 years and had wonderful experiences. In all that time I received a handful of actual "gifts" which were appreciated but not necessary nor were they expected. It is not "cool" in High School to give gifts to teachers-- it looks too much like sucking up. I am rather shocked at the soliciting of money from parents for gifts for the classroom teacher at Elementary schools. We teachers are fairly well-paid professionals and we should not need our pay supplemented with gift cards.
What I did appreciate and cherish were the little written notes from students and parents. I have kept them to this day. And better yet, a note of praise for the teacher sent to the principal

Posted by: V. Hassouneh | June 12, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I have taught high school for 8 years and in that time have only received a few GCs and trinkets... despite the non-paid hours I put in for sponsorships and writing college recommendation letters. Often I don't even get a thank you for a letter-- it's as if they EXPECT this to be part of my job description!!
While I certainly don't expect gifts, I totally appreciate the sentiment, esp. since most of my students expect me to fork over $$ to provide THEM with end of year candy/parties...I cannot believe how entitled and spoiled today's students are--

Posted by: Anonymous | June 12, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

I think the last 3 posts by actual teacher, assuming they are real, are more representative of the teachers I come across through my kids and community. Most of being happy in your job is managing your expectations, and it sounds like all 3 teachers take pleasure in their job and recognize the pitfalls vs the benefits. Thanks to all 3.

Posted by: Get Real | June 12, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I think the last 3 posts by actual teacher, assuming they are real, are more representative of the teachers I come across through my kids and community. Most of being happy in your job is managing your expectations, and it sounds like all 3 teachers take pleasure in their job and recognize the pitfalls vs the benefits. Thanks to all 3.

Posted by: Get Real | June 12, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

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