Monday, August 24, 2015

What a teacher truly wants on Teachers' Day...

I could go with a nice long holiday without any papers to grade but that would be wishful thinking. I've had lots of friends with school going kids ask me what it is that teachers truly like for Teachers' Day and what were some of the Teachers' Day gifts that I remember.

While I can't speak for other teachers, here are some of my favourites and the ones I remember fondly.

The funniest one, I cannot find a photograph for. It was back when mobile phones had no cameras and my darling class gave me 2 mango fruit which I ate! They had noticed that their teacher, i.e. me, never repeated her wardrobe which consisted mostly of Mango outfits. So come Teachers' Day, their corny 18 year old humour had them present me two HUGE mangoes. And to top it off, a T-shirt that I still have.

2. The most self-aware one was an urn that I still use. It came from a class I had to learn to love because they were really trying. They made me stage a walk out, a strike and eventually swear at them. I put small change in it now but for the years it sat on my desk in the office, it elicited chuckles from both staff and students alike.

The weirdest would be a toilet scrub brush with no message whatsoever. 18 year old humour, I did not and sometimes still don't get. 

The ones I found most useful. 
1. Honey- I always left them in school and I'd always use them up. Teaching for long stretches and a propensity to get laryngitis made it extremely useful. Honey and lemon drinks. No lemon, just hot water and honey.

2. Lozenges- I've come to appreciate all kinds. From the  Nim Jiom ones to the medicated or the honey eucalyptus ones for the aforementioned reason. I started keeping them in my pencil case and when I was really ill, I'd carry a pot of it around.

3. Red pens- I generally graded in red. Occasionally pink or purple if the mood hit me. And we used to lose our red pens all the time because we would take our papers out to grade every time we got a chance and we would leave our pens all over. Years after I stopped teaching in school, I opened a handbag I hadn't used in a while and found 2 red pens in there. But woe was the day that I had planned to go out to work, settled down nicely with a drink somewhere only to realise I had no pen! I have also on occasion graded with a coloured pencil and a crayon because I wasn't in proximity of a pen (of any colour). So we never ever had enough red pens and were always thankful for those.

And then there were the ones from students who knew me and understood that teachers were human and appreciated the same things they did.

So they've come bearing  cups of MacD's iced tea because they'd seen me come into class with it and we had chatted enough for them to know that I would mainline the stuff if I could. (This is no longer relevant as MacD's iced tea has changed to the run of the mill Heaven and Earth stuff that doesn't work.)

Others pooled together to buy a Starbucks card with enough credit for one drink so that I could grade their papers there (this after spotting me at a Starbucks grading away furiously). All much appreciated and remembered after all these years.

That's the advantage of teaching the older bunch; they remember funny things and have enough freedom to go out and get what they want for their teachers. 8 year old Jordan has, however, very observantly commented her form teacher loves Hello Kitty and that we should buy all her gym coaches bubble tea because they, like Mommy (*guilty here*), drink bubble tea all the time. (Since MacD's doesn't do it for me anymore!)

In a nutshell, the gifts that have meant most are the ones that are the personal ones, the notes, montages, cards or ones where there has been thought put into it. So if you're wondering what to help your kid get or make for their teachers, ask them about their teachers and what they know about them. 

 Disclaimer: Note that all opinions are mine and are not endorsed by schools of any kind!


  1. I totally agree! I've already gotten bottles of honey for my son's teachers. :)
    One of my most treasured gifts is a card, in which my student modified a quote from To Kill A Mockingbird (which I was teaching them), to make it about me and what I did with them. Means so much more when they make an effort to observe what we do and like!
    PS. I love the mango tee your students made for you!