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If you’ve ever spent an afternoon with more than 5 children, you know this universal truth: teachers are grievously underappreciated. We trust teachers to educate our children, nurture their talents, and model positive values. We expect teachers to exhibit expertise in their field, treat each student fairly, and exercise extraordinary patience. Teachers do all those things and more; a National Center for Education Statistics survey found teachers spend an average of $479 of their own money on school supplies for the classroom.
Then, there’s the lasting effect teachers have on our lives. Think back to a teacher who believed in you or helped you discover a lifelong passion. How do you thank someone like that?
Surprisingly, most teachers say their favorite gifts aren’t things. In a BuzzFeed survey, teachers cited handwritten notes and students’ drawings as the gifts that warm their hearts the most. But before we get to great back-to-school gift ideas, let’s look at the gifts teachers definitely don’t want:
“World’s Best Teacher,” “This Teacher Rules,” “Teaching is my Superpower,” — most teachers have them all. They get them as gifts from students, parents, family, and friends. Anyone who’s not a first-year educator has amassed quite a collection. It’s not that teachers don’t like mugs; it’s that they have more of them than they can use, and most mugs get thrown away, donated to charity, or regifted to a fellow teacher. Save your money.
Candles, lotions, and perfumes are great gifts for someone you know really, really well. If you notice a teacher using a specific hand cream or wearing a specific scent, perhaps gifts of lotion or perfume might make a nice end-of-year gift. But when you buy fragranced gifts, you run the risk of buying something a teacher is sensitive to (think migraines and allergies) or simply dislikes. A scent-free gift card would be a better choice if you want to go this route.
Even though you mean well, a super expensive gift is not the way to start the year off. Most school districts have codes of ethics that prevent educators from excepting expensive gifts. Check with your district for guidelines, but anything over $25 is probably too expensive. Remember, as a back-to-school gift, a lavish present reads as an attempt to curry favor instead of heartfelt gratitude.
Apples and teachers are a nostalgic association for most of us. In the 1800s, especially in frontier towns, parents supplemented teachers’ measly incomes with baskets of food and bushels of apples. Bing Crosby even crooned a tune about it— “An Apple for the Teacher” —further cementing the connection in pop culture. That’s why most teachers already have tons of apple-themed shirts, magnets, notepads, tote bags, and mugs (double whammy!).
Here are some back-to-school gifts ideas that will make your child’s teacher feel appreciated and help them stay organized to boot.
Teachers love stamps! They’re a great way to motivate and encourage students. Educational stamps can be funny, punny, and personalized. The ink comes in a rainbow of colors, and the stamps feature phrases every teacher can use. mDesign’s Plastic or Bamboo Organizer Box is an inventive way to present your gift. Teachers can use it to store stamps or other school small school supplies. It’s like two gifts in one.
School supplies are a perennial need for teachers; remember, they often spend a portion of their own income on supplies for their classrooms. This gift idea puts a new spin (see what we did there?) on the back-to-school supply cakes that are so popular on Pinterest. Fill this multi-level rotating organizer’s nine compartments with glue sticks, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, and more. The smooth-swiveling base keeps supplies within easy reach. Or give the rotating organizer with a gift card to the nearest office supply or craft store.
Your child is starting a new grade, so one of the challenges of back-to-school gifts is finding the right gesture for a teacher you might not know very well. Themed bins can be the universal gift you’re looking for and they’re great for coaches and after-school activity instructors, too. Start with mDesign’s clear organizer bin and fill it according to the theme you choose:
Speaking of universal gifts, who wouldn’t like freshly-baked (or, to save time, store-bought) cookies? mDesign’s apothecary cannister makes a cute cookie jar and, once the cookies are gone, your child’s teacher can use it for storing everything from office supplies to energy bars. Here’s a delicious recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies:
source: sally’s baking addiction
Here’s to an awesome new school year!
Check out our Back to School mBlog series for more inspiration for the new year.
Lisa Langford is a Senior Copywriter at mDesign
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Jul 20, 2021