25 March 2010
This past term, I've been feeling pretty pampered. My “room mom” of sorts organized a schedule for me to be adopted by a different family each week of the term. They asked me ahead of time what I’d like (gave me a list of options of what I thought I'd appreciate) – whether being invited over for dinner, having a dinner or snack prepared, have extra help in the classroom, simply calling to ask what they could do to help me out… there was a whole list but I can’t remember what all it included. Anyway, whether the things are big and expensive, or small and simple, doesn’t really matter. Its been much appreciated, and a huge blessing to me, no matter what!
One week one of my students brought in something small each day. The first day was a Nature Valley granola bar from the STATES!!! I’m sure they just grabbed it from the stash they had in the cupboard (and I mean that with total loving adoration - it was totally appreciated and amazing! Just showing how easy this can be :) .) Next day was an apple and a quick handwritten card from the student. Something chocolate the next day I think.
Anyway, I didn’t catch on at first that it was “his” week (some of my students bring me treats all the time, but after the fourth quick note thanking me for being his teacher, I was astounded and feeling very much loved... blessed to say the least. The last day I was surprised by a cute recycled-flour-bag tote bag, and I love it. But honestly, the little granola bar and purple 3x5 card that said “thanks for all you do” made my day just as much as the bag did.
Sometimes, it’s just nice to be reminded that you are appreciated.
So, here’s my thought. For all you parents out there, here’s an easy thing to do to make your kids’ teachers feel super-special. Get together with other parents and assign one family to each week of the school year. Make it clear that mucho money definitely does NOT need to be spent. And ask them to bless/encourage the teacher on their week by doing one or more little things to make them realize they are loved. A granola bar and a quick “thanks for all you do!” note was the best start ever to my Monday morning!!! (especially as I was running late from preparing for school and didn’t have time for breakfast.) Other ideas that would make a teacher’s day (I’m sure teachers would agree) include: a sharpie pen/marker, or any fun-colored pen that writes well (we write a LOT!), a pack of fun pre-sharpened pencils, a sheet of encouraging or fun stickers, an offer to come in for a bit to help out sometime that week, a highlighter, a little stamp the teacher could use on kids' papers (dollar tree finds are awesome), a healthy snack (or chocolate is good, too!), a card sharing “thanks,” especially one written from the student, a cute paper or sticky note pad (2 for a dollar at the dollar section in Target!), a WHITEBOARD MARKER, or a couple of fun toys to put in their prize box for the classroom. OR ask what craft is coming up and if there’s something specific he or she could use; ask if they’d like for you to come in and DO a craft with the kids related to the theme they’re learning this week; ask if there’s a specific movie he/she has been wanting to see, and rent it (or let them borrow it if you have it); or arrange for a different parent to provide a sack-dinner on Wednesdays so the teacher doesn’t have to cook. (Think of simply making a bit extra of whatever you’re cooking for your family, and wah-la! You’re done!) Teachers? I’m sure you have other ideas… karibu with adding your recommendations at the bottom!
Sometimes, despite the frequent hugs we get in lower-elementary, teachers feel a little frustrated. Run-down. Overwhelmed. You should hear us at the gym or processing after school, going over the things that went well, struggling to figure out how to help each child get a specific math concept better, searching online or picking the brains of those who might have ideas, deliberating over how best to teach the next topic… And we feel like, “What in the world am I really doing? Are all the hours I’m spending before and after school preparing for my kids really worth it? Does anyone even notice or care that I’m pouring my heart and soul out into my kids?” The little things really DO make a big difference!!! Think of it as simply putting your daily thoughts into clearly-communicated action. As you think about the little snacks and notes you send with your kids to school all the time, realize that no one is sending their teacher a smiley face note in their lunchbox. And sometimes, a smiley note and a granola bar is all we need to make us smile.