How much is too much? “Really, I don't expect anything but if you insist, don't spend more than $20.”
Do you prefer a gift card to a coffee shop or bookstore? “As nice as it is to have a Tim Hortons gift card, that’s okay, we can buy our own Tim Hortons. Getting stuff for the classroom is more important, and more useful.”
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Best gifts? “All the best gifts have been the ones that come from the heart – cards or pictures that have taken a great deal of thought, care and effort. But Starbucks gift cards are nice, too.”
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A gift-giving policy? “I tell my students not to give me gifts. I say that I won’t accept them. But if they bring it on the last day, I wouldn’t send it back.”
Best gifts? He worked in a low-income neighbourhood and one student brought him an open bottle of cologne. He was touched. Another student brought him a tie from Value Village. “I loved it.” He prefers notes or cards at the end of the year.
Best gift? He once had a student make him a candle holder because he told his class that he enjoys sitting on his deck at night during the summer. “It was creative, it showed a personal connection and that she had been listening to my dumb stories.”
Catherine Little Fort Mac’s teachers remind us that heroes are found in the classroom
Gifts that people gather round at the office, people following the sounds of wood being torn from wood by the included, laser-engraved crowbar.
What happens if you don’t like your kid’s teacher? “If you’re really not a fan of your child’s teacher, give them something unwieldy and bulky that they will have trouble packing in the car on the last day of school,” he said with a laugh.
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Fun gift? Parents gave a teacher colleague movie tickets, a bottle of wine and a note apologizing for their kid’s behaviour that academic year.
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A gift-giving policy? “We don’t have an official policy. I prefer students don’t bring me gifts. I do tell them that it’s not necessary.”
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Are gifts expected? “I think there’s enough expectations in the world, and I don’t think that should be an expectation. We make good money and we’re public servants.” But “you do know who’s the well-liked teacher when they cart out the most gifts on the last day,” he said with a chuckle.
Strangest gift? His colleague once received a box of Kraft dinner that was half empty.
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Worst gifts? A student gave him a laminated map of Italy. He has also received many mugs, and with the school year winding down close to July 1, there’s been a few Canada Day souvenirs. A colleague once received a mini-skirt.
What about parents who don’t buy you a gift? “It’s fine. It kind of depends why. Sometimes they’re just overwhelmed, overloaded, and sometimes they just don’t want to play that game. That’s fine and I respect that. For my own kids, I would often say at the very least you can write a little note to say thank-you. Just something simple and that doesn’t cost anything.”
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What do you think of parents who don’t give gifts? “I don't expect parents to give gifts. I hope, however, that parents are teaching their children to practice gratitude and encourage their children to make a nice thank-you card.”
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How much is too much? “I have a son in kindergarten. Even though I don’t want to get gifts, I understand that you want to show the teacher how appreciative you are. My son had a great year and I really like the teacher so we’ll probably send a $10 or $20 gift card to the LCBO or Starbucks or Tim Hortons. I personally think $10 is already more than enough. Anything more than $20 I think is getting unnecessary.”
The end of school is looming, but before you start searching Pinterest for last-minute craft ideas or head to Starbucks to buy a $50 gift certificate, stop and consider what your child’s teacher really wants for an end-of-year present. The Globe and Mail asked a handful of teachers to reveal their best and worst gifts, and how much is too much.
Best gifts? A student once gave him a coaster that she painted and put his name on it. Another student wrote him a note that said ‘I like math.’
Gifts that make you uncomfortable? He’s heard of classes giving their teachers gift cards of more than $2,000. “I guess in some circles, families get competitive.”
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