It's getting to that time of year. Reports are been written, Christmas concerts are being organised and as the school year comes to an end some of you may have added your child's teacher to your Christmas gift list. You're thinking you'll pick up something small to thank them for the year. And that's a lovely idea. But I think you can save yourself some money and cross your child's teacher off that list.
I'm not saying you shouldn't recognise the efforts of your child's teacher or say thank-you, I just think it's done better by writing them a personalised thank-you card rather than buying a present. And if you can't think of anyone you'd like to thank less than your child's teacher you may like to read 'So your child hates their teacher?' instead!
Teachers have a special, demanding and often thankless job. Think about teaching a class full of hyper-excited and equally over-tired preps or a room full of sweaty Year 9 boys after a game of lunch time footy or staring at a wall of teenage angst and indifference while trying to excite them about the real-life benefits of Pythagoras' theorem. As I recently re-posted on facebook 'The best part about teaching is that what you do matters. The hardest thing about being a teacher is that it matters every day (Todd Whitaker via 'We Are Teachers).
I'm not saying teachers are martyrs; teacher's choose to be teachers and I know a lot of people don't get thanked for doing their job on a day-to-day basis. But think about those times when just your own kids are enough and you are glad to be waving them off at school secure in the knowledge that they will be safe and have the opportunity to learn. Not many people have such a direct impact on your child's life and a good teacher is worth their weight in gold. So I think taking the time to write a personalised note to our teacher can be a great investment in encouraging the good ones and can go a long way in rejuvenating a teacher at the end of a busy year.
|Teacher's don't need an apple a day, just the occasional thanks!|
I'm sure many of you like the idea of writing a personalised card or letter but when you think about coming up with a different and unique message to write for each child's teacher while also making costumes for Christmas concerts, food for every break up party and buying suitable Kris Kringle presents on a $5 budget it quickly becomes much easier to throw a few boxes of Favourites in a trolley and call it a day!
So I've tried to take some of the hard work out of it for you and give you some card writing ideas:
For Pre-school Teachers:
Ask you child to think about their teacher and then ask them to finish the following sentences:
How old is Ms Teacher?
What does Ms Teacher do when she is not at kinder?
What is Ms Teacher's favourite thing to say?
What is Ms Teacher's favourite food/animal/hobby?
What is Ms Teacher really good at?
What makes Ms Teacher a great teacher?
What will you miss about Ms Teacher?
Write a set of multiple choice statements down a page. For example:
Mr. Teacher is:
Happy or Grumpy
Laughs a lot or Yells a lot
Nice or Mean
Loud or Quiet
Helpful or Not Helpful
Crazy or Quiet
Happy or Sad
Smart or Silly
The questions you write will obviously be influenced by how well you know the teacher, their personality and how you think your child will answer - in fact ask them the questions verbally first to ensure they are going to pick the nice one!
Put either of these on a card and help your child to write the 'To Ms Teacher, From Johnny' part and get them to finish it by decorating it with a picture or painting. You can then add some of your own sentiments using the ideas in the Primary School section below.
For Primary School Teachers:
Again you can ask your child to write the 'To' and 'From' part and as they progress through each grade their own message of thanks can get a bit longer. It's a great way for them to show off their hand writing and literacy skills.
You can then add a personalised message using statements like:
- Your classroom always felt inviting/calm/welcoming/calm/exciting/full of possibility...
- I appreciate that you have taken the time to get to know Johnny/ create interesting work/make the classroom a fun place to be...
- Johnny has enjoyed your stories/songs/projects/sense of humour/kindness...
- With your help, Johnny has developed more confidence/a greater understanding of .../an interest in...
- Johnny was happy to go to school every day.
- I always heard about the interesting things you were studying in...
- Include a favourite and/or funny anecdote your child has told during the year
For Secondary School Teachers:
At this age, you can start to pass the responsibility to your child and help them write the notes themselves. If your child has just started high school you may want to add your own comments to thank the teacher for their assistance in helping your child settle in and make a smooth transition to high school.
Some students may prefer to email their teachers, which is still a good option. However if they have a teacher that they have formed a particularly good relationship, there is nothing quite like a hand written note.
They might find the following prompts helpful:
- Thanks for teaching me...
- I have most enjoyed ...
- With your help I have got better at...
- I'm glad I had you for Maths this year because...
- I appreciate your sense of humour/passion for your subject/all of your help/fun learning ideas/kindness
- I always completed your homework first because...
- You kept me motivated/inspired to...
- Your classes were great because..
- I enjoyed the lessons when we got to...
Personalised letters and cards of thanks are the most treasured gifts a teacher can receive. Even my husband, who could be described as quite a masculine and authoritative teacher, has kept every letter or card given to him by his students. As he says it is "fuel in the tank" to keep working hard.
I sometimes pull out some of the cards I've received from students (particularly those written by Year 12 students who can be very generous in their praise as they get sentimental about leaving school!) if I've has a hard day or need a little extra motivation. When a student takes the time to write a card it makes you glad and proud to be a teacher and helps give you a kick along to keep doing the little (and big) things that make a difference between your child just going to school and your child going to school and enjoying it.
At the end of a busy year, when elbow deep in exam marking and report writing, it reminds your teacher of why they became a teacher. It reminds them that they can have a significant and positive impact on every student they teach and if teachers can be reminded of this at least once a year that can only be a good thing for the teacher, the school and your child. And, hopefully, maybe your next child that also gets that teacher!!
And if money isn't an issue and you can afford to buy a gift to go with that amazing card you've just written, you'll do well to remember that chocolate and alcohol have been recognised as the official diet of a staffroom.
Or you can do what my friend's Prep class did - organise for the whole class to contribute and pool your money to buy your teacher an outdoor heater and a three figure gift voucher - yes, really!?!
I'm just sayin'...
(BTW I can write this post this year since I'm on maternity leave and so this won't look like a desperate plea to get my students to write me thank-you cards!)
I'd love to hear if you are buying your child's teacher a present!
Linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesdays