Okay, I’m going to be brutally honest here. I’m in a fortunate position that I’m not currently attached to a school as I’ve been doing supply work and I’m on maternity leave. This means that I can tell you the truth about what to buy your child’s teacher for Christmas, to say thank you for their hard work this term. Hopefully I’ll be doing a service to all those hard-working teachers out there, too.
It might seem like a good idea at the time (everyone likes tea, right?), but honestly, I receive at least three mugs per year. Multiply that by the average teaching career and there are too many to fit in the staff room cupboard. Especially as every other teacher in the school has equally as many. The chances of actually drinking a hot drink at school are slim to none, anyway. What do you mean, don’t I want to take it home? Would you like to drink out of a set of mismatched World’s Best Teacher mugs when you’re not at work? No, I didn’t think so.
The only exception to this is one of those quality thermos mugs with a lid that we’d be allowed to take out on the playground. But this only applies if you’ve checked that we don’t have one already and we do have a teaching assistant who’s prepared to bring us a cuppa to the playground as there’s fat chance of us making one as we run from the lesson to the playground with a school full of children.
These items invariably serve no purpose other than to gather dusk and clutter a desk/noticeboard. I could probably fill a whole classroom wall with bookmarks/signs/plaques which tell me how great I am. Generically. I’m sure you’d rather I created a stimulating and informative classroom display to engage and educate your child, instead. Please save your money!
I know some teachers complain about receiving huge quantities of chocolate or wine. I’m not one of them. Chocolate keeps for ages and I have been known to keep Christmas chocs in my desk drawer for a pick-me-up during marking sessions or particularly dull meetings. A very welcome treat, especially when it’s already pitch black as soon as the children go home in those dark days at the start of the spring term.
I know not everyone drinks wine (I don’t either) but I do appreciate having some in the house to offer guests over the festive period. Or to re-gift to people who unexpectedly turn up with Christmas presents. School wine has saved me from this on many an occasion!
I’m going to sound ungrateful again here, but I’m not talking about something your child has made out of salt dough and painted brown/black. Those will go straight in the bin/onto the classroom Christmas tree. I mean a nice one. From a shop. I have a beautiful glass polar bear that a lovely child gave me years ago, and it goes on my tree at home every year. I think fondly of her and her whole class and wonder what they’re all up to now.
It is a well-known fact among teachers that the school heating is turned off at 3pm every day, leaving the staff to shiver over their marking piles once the children have gone home. Therefore a scarf is very welcome! Bonus points if you pay attention to the colour of your child’s teacher’s wardrobe and buy them a scarf that they’d actually want to be seen wearing. It doesn’t need to be expensive. I have a Primark scarf from a former pupil that I adore and still wear to this day.
Some of my most treasured gifts have cost nothing at all. It means so much to receive a note from the child saying how much they’ve enjoyed being in your class. What really tops it off is a note from a parent, too. So often the only communication we have from parents is more formally at parents’ evening or when a parent has a concern (although I am one of those teachers that tries to contact parents over good stuff, too, but sadly there isn’t always time for this). It’s so special to know that a parent has noticed how hard you work for their child. I have a little box of these notes which dates back to my very first teaching job.
I write handwritten notes to every child to say thank you for their wonderful Christmas gift. I thank them verbally on the day they’re given, too. It’s important that they know that their gift is the best gift that I could ever hope to receive. Even when it’s a mug.