A teacher answers: What we want, what we don't for Teacher Appreciation Week

A teacher answers: What we want, what we don't for Teacher Appreciation Week

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A teacher answers: What we want, what we don't for Teacher Appreciation Week


The next two weeks are celebrated as Teacher Appreciation Week. As parents search for a meaningful gesture, Beth Maloney, Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2014, offers insight into what teachers really want. And what they don’t.

No to chocolate, yes to classroom supplies

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It seems counterintuitive, I know, but we just don’t need more candy.

By the end of the year, most classrooms are scraping the bottom of the barrel. We run out of everything from tissues to pencils, and I end up buying those materials out of my own pocket.

Not another mug, but Starbucks cards welcome

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I’m not saying that teachers don’t love drinking coffee from a cozy mug. But multiply a coffee mug by 30 students every year and we can’t keep up.

Gift cards to retailers, grocery stores, restaurants and Starbucks are also always appreciated, but certainly not necessary.

Nix lotions and candles, choose homemade

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Scented candles and lotion are a popular choice, but too often they come in large quantities and in scents we would never use.

Consider a homemade or baked gift. Educators love food and appreciate it even more when it’s home-cooked. I had a student in fifth grade, who is now in high school, and his family still gifts me delicious Italian cookies. I look forward to them every year!

What we really want

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But here’s the kicker — the gifts that mean the most to teachers don’t cost a dime. What do we really want?

  • Parents to be involved. Pay attention to what we’re doing in the classroom and extend that learning in the home. Read the notes I send home. Get to know me and show up for parent/teacher conferences. That goes a long way to helping me help your child.
  • A sincere, specific thank you note. This is probably the most sought-after gift a parent can give. Teachers choose to teach because they want to impact a child’s life. But how do they know if all of their hard work means anything? I keep each one of these notes and I pull out my “happy notes” folder whenever I’m having a bad day. They’re so uplifting and a great reminder of why I do what I do.
  • Any gesture of gratitude. While we have gifts we prefer and those we don’t, I’ve received so many thoughtful, generous gifts over the years and I appreciate each one. Even a half-used bottle of body wash offers a sweet gesture of gratitude from a treasured student.

Beth Maloney is the Arizona Teacher of the Year in 2014. With almost two decades of experience under her belt, Maloney is currently teaching 5th grade at Sunset Hills Elementary in Surprise. She is a National Board Certified Teacher and holds a master’s degree in education. Learn more about her experiences as an educator on her blog, “Daring to Teach.”


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