Secret Teacher: we don’t need expensive gifts – a thank you will do

The Secret Teacher writes in The Guardian that not all parents believe in giving presents to teachers, and they shouldn’t have to. But knowing they appreciate our efforts makes all the difference.

Last week, I saw a post in a parents’ group on Facebook asking what to get teachers as an end-of-year present. Some responses were ideas and suggestions, but some people argued that no one should buy their child’s teacher a gift at the end of the year.

Of course, it’s an ongoing debate. A survey by Mumsnet on Christmas gifts revealed that 45% of parents buy gifts for teachers – 60% think it is a good idea, 22% don’t agree with the practice, and 38% disagree with giving teachers a Christmas present.

During my teaching career, I have received an eclectic array of presents, from expensive bracelets to homemade biscuits, electric flowers, ornamental instruments, perfume and John Lewis vouchers.

But the part I cherish the most is the accompanying cards and notes expressing gratitude for what I’ve done, or acknowledgement of the role I’ve played in children’s lives. Because while the parents who argue that teachers shouldn’t be given presents are in some ways correct – I am a teacher, and paid to do that job – I never just do my job.

I sacrifice my health, family time and social life to keep up to date with the requirements of this job. And every time we have a fire drill, or hear about a terrorist attack, it is a sharp reminder that I would die to save my students’ lives. So I never just do my job.

Presents fade, get used or are re-gifted, but the memories of parents acknowledging how much we do for their children doesn’t. Parents should not – and do not – have to give their children’s teachers presents. But a little thanks goes a long way.

Read more Secret Teacher: we don’t need expensive gifts – a thank you will do

What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever been given? Are the words that are said more important? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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