Things that break my soul: Back to School Teacher Gifts

by Janelle Hanchett

Just when I think I’m doing okay as a mother, some soul-sucking invention launches itself in my face and screams “Oh no, bitch. You’re still wrong. You’re never gonna get this right.”


I saw those five horrid words strung together for the first time a few days ago and thought “Wait. That can’t be a real thing.”

It must just be some bullshit created by Target or Walmart to sucker us (through guilt) into buying useless crap for people who are probably wishing we’d all stop buying them useless crap. It’s an invented thing like “Sibling Appreciation Day” or health insurance company customer service. It’s not real. It’s an idea that nobody actually gets behind.

But then I see real live grown-up humans talking about ideas for Back to fucking School Teacher Gifts and I die a little inside because now I have irrevocable evidence that at least a few people think it’s a real thing.

Which means, of course, once again, I’m the freak.

Check it out. I’m gonna say this once and I hope it’s clear: I will never, ever buy a goddamn Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift.


Because I’m a horrible human being. Let’s start there.

You know how my mind goes?

Why the fuck would I buy an “appreciation” gift for a teacher I do not yet appreciate? I mean seriously, how does that make sense? She could be like the worst teacher in the world. She could play favorites and my kid could be the non-favorite.

Or wait. Maybe that’s it: Is this gift to butter her up in advance so my child is undeservedly favored on account of the cute wooden apple paper weight I gave her on the first day?

Fuck that noise.

If my kids are loathed or adored it’s gonna be at their own hands. Master of their fates and whatnot.

Oh, come ON. I know it’s a “nice gesture,” and I know teachers are working way before the first day of school, and I know they don’t get paid enough and are doing some of the hardest work imaginable. Some of the teachers in my life were life-changing. Wonderful. I actually just tried to email my 5th-grade teacher a couple months ago to thank him, because he told me I had a talent in writing, and that I should always follow it, and he sent a story I wrote called “The Pig Family” into a local newspaper and it got published, and for the rest of my youth I thought in the back of my mind “I’m a writer. I’m a talented writer. Mr. Zuniga said so.” It’s like he said it and I believed it and it never left me. And look what I’m doing now, folks. How do you thank somebody for that? I love that man.

And some of my kids’ teachers have blown my mind with what they were willing to do for my kids. My daughter had a teacher last year who stayed after school on Fridays to read freaking Charles Dickens with her. Every week when it happened I just wanted to stare at her because I couldn’t believe the patience, devotion and kindness. My son’s teacher last year made my boy with dyslexia feel safe, protected, capable and confident in the classroom, and she did it purposely and knowingly, and he blossomed because of her, her insight, her gentleness, her care for my son. How do you thank people like that? My heart explodes. You better believe they got a letter from me at the end of the year.

Incidentally, I once threw a slumber party for 7 girls and had to sleep for like 9 days after it to deal with the shock of the annoyance of that many children. I have no idea how they do it.

But let’s be honest: Some teachers are mediocre. Some teachers totally fucking blow. Some show up every day dragging their scowling asses to the classroom because they are 7 years from retirement or have no better career ideas. I had a teacher in junior high taunt me for being the slowest runner during P.E. Honestly it was cruel. She did it front of the whole class, told me she had heard good things about me and was excited about having me in her class, but now she knows I’m nothing special. Ouch. And in 7th-grade, when my face was full of pimples and I was already a geeky poor kid.

What a bitch.

I’ve had teachers drone on endlessly about NOTHING, day after day after day, so clearly not giving a shit it’s ridiculous. I’ve had teachers only pay attention to the athletes or cool kids. I’ve had soul-sucking teachers.

So why do I have to get all excited about the possibility of a person doing their job well? I have an idea: How about you do your job well and then I will express my gratitude for it once I’ve developed a genuine respect for you?

Shocking stuff here.

See, I told you. Horrible human being.

Now, let’s back up.

Even if I had a heart, even if I could theoretically get behind this whole Back to School Teacher Gift nonsense, there is no way I could handle that shit logistically.

I had a hard time getting all the stuff on the four-mile-long, brand-specific, color-inch-line-spacing specific $100 supply list. [It was really only a page, but it felt like four-miles and it was definitely $100 for the two kids.]

Do you really think I can handle some “thoughtful little something” in addition?

I’m just trying to remember to make lunches, people. WORK WITH ME HERE.

Oh just buy a Starbucks gift card, you say?

Right. Yes. Easy. Except that we’re broke, and it’s rude to get something below like $10.00, right? I mean $5.00 buys a coffee, maybe two, but not even enough coffee for two people. So it’s really gotta be $10.00, because if we’re showing appreciation, what the hell does $5.00 say? “I almost appreciate you?”

“I sort of appreciate you?”

“I appreciate you but not enough to spend actual money on you, which brings us back to the whole ‘almost’ thing?”

But if I get $10.00 cards for both of my kids’ teachers, I’m $20.00 IN THE HOLE and them I’m just bitter, cause I can’t really afford that, particularly since I just spent $100 on supplies. So now I’ve started the year off spending money on a human I’ve never met in HOPES that he’s a decent teacher and won’t abuse my child or turn him into a Republican (That was a joke. Come on it was FUNNY. I’d much rather my kid turn into a Republican than one of those elitist, out-of-touch privileged yuppie liberals who think they’re all enlightened and against-the-system when actually their whole life is founded on the system they learned to hate in that liberal private girls’ college. I mean honestly. Is there anything worse? You’re right. Rush Limbaugh. Actually, nevermind. It’s up in the air.)

Nope. Rush is worse.

Back on track, Janelle.

I hope their teachers teach them to FOCUS.

So then I tell myself “Rage against the machine!” Fight the system! Live on the edge! Reject the Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift!

And I think I’m secure in my decision, until it pops up again on my newsfeed. Again there’s an advertisement. Again there’s an Instagram of these super cute Mason jar cookie mix things with a paper-bag tag that says “Thanks, teacher!” and some raffia and a joyful mother exclaiming in the comment “I saw it on Pinterest!”

And I feel like a total asshole.

And I wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I mean really, “Why am I such a dick?”

I think I was born without the appropriate mothering gene, or at least the one required to participate in illogical activities grounded in niceness and generosity.

My God, there is something wrong with me.


Rage against the Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift!


Here's something for your damn Pinterest board.

Here’s something for your damn Pinterest board.

  • Meems

    It would be impossible for me to love you more. Thank you for making being a horrible human being so much more fun!

  • Leslie

    My parents were both public school teachers and came home all the time with wooden apple paperweights and cookie mixes in jars and such and you know where that shit went? Straight into the trash. My Dad died last year and you know what I found he’d saved? Every letter of appreciation he’d received from students and parents. You ARE giving your kids teachers the best appreciation gift already – actual appreciation and heartfelt thanks. No “world’s best teacher” coffee mug can compare. Truly.

    • Mel

      I’m a high school teacher in Australia and I’ve also kept every letter and card ever given to me – at the end of the year. I absolutely adore these things, especially when kids themselves have written them – and not under parental duress but from their hearts. Everything else gets re-gifted. Sorry! And a pre-emptive present? Ridiculous!! Are we not buying enough shit already to keep the mouse wheel of massive consumption spinning? (apologies for rant-like ending).

  • Jocelyn Aldworth

    You are me, I am you. Still haven’t figured out whether that is a good thing or not.

  • Michelle

    I have been a teacher for 20 years and have two children in school… Just say No to the back to school teacher gifts! The start of the school year is expensive enough and adding one more expense is rediculous. If you really feel compelled, donate extra supplies like pencils, crayons, and tissue that can be used by the class. The written note of appreciation is priceless! Please also send a copy to the principal. Finally, that $5.00 gift card is perfect if you want to go that route. Include it with that letter and you are golden!

  • Hawk

    Samesies. You’re ok.

  • annie

    As a teacher, I support your decision!

  • Liz

    I have to call total shenanigans on the back to school teacher gift concept as well. I love my sons teachers I mean the kid could t recognize the alphabet when he started last year and now he reads. And well at that. BUT it cost a lot of money for him to go to his school. He has dysgraphia and still doesn’t write well. In other words it costs a small fortune for him to go to school. But that’s not even really why I don’t buy into a back to school gift. It just seems like total b.s. I mean really?! Why not attach a hallmark card that says “Thank you for returning from your 3 month break, to do your job!”

    Fear not, though I scoff at this I will still be getting Christmas gifts, teacher appreciation week gifts and end of the year gifts. Because in my opinion there are few jobs ghat would be worse than being a teacher!

    Btw Janelle thank you as always for writing what the voices in my head are saying!

  • Lisa Kaplin

    NOOOOOOOO! No, this cannot be a THING. NO! I’m with you. I WILL NEVER DO THIS. NEVER! I love teachers but I will not do this.

  • Jackie Schmitt

    I’ve never heard of a Back to School Teacher Appreciation gift! (thank God) I have considering going to Back to School Night with a Costco size bottle of Excedrin, sorta as an upfront apology for whatever crap my daughter pulls through the year gift. A “here, you’re probably gonna need this” gift. But I haven’t been aware that this was an actual thing. I guess this year I’ll be outdone by the kiss-butt moms once again. Oh well.

    • kelli graves

      this is actually and excellent, humorous gift!! send a bottle with a ribbon on it. lol!! i would totally crack up. and it will be a big break from the generic, automatic other gifts.

  • Jessica

    At the end of every school year, my mom cut the best blossom from our magnolia tree as a thank you gift for my teacher. Free and awesome. And given in actual thanks. I’ve taught off and on, and the best gift I’ve ever gotten was a hand-written note from a student, thanking me for my help and patience. I bet the notes you wrote to your kids’ teachers are still tucked in their desks, and I bet the Starbucks gift cards are long forgotten. Yeah, you just can’t fake appreciation, nor can you launch a preemptive appreciation strike.

  • Carole

    It’s not a real thing in any school or district where I’ve taught. But if you really want to show appreciation for teachers, please write to your local school board, state legislator, congress person or whomever and express support for bargaining rights, salaries and benefits, and working conditions for public school teachers. That’s a gift a teacher would appreciate! And thank you for keeping it real, Janelle, I’m right there with you!

  • Suzanne

    Teachers generally ask for “donated” general classroom supplies like copy paper, tissues, white board markers, etc. Isn’t THAT a back-to-school teacher appreciation gift? I mean, if you buy it, then they don’t have to!

    Also…an aside. My 86 year old mother was a middle school and high school English teacher. Would you believe she still hears from some of her former students because of the tremendous positive impact she had on her students?

  • Vivienne

    Oh fuck that. And fuck you for even bringing it to my attention! (smiley wink facae) And fuck half birthday parties!

  • Jessica

    We have a teacher appreciation week towards the end of the school year….but my kids are in preschool so I felt that M’s teacher deserved a little something just for surviving all those months with a class full of three and four year olds!

    Seriously, I think a $5 gift card for coffee would be more appreciated than a $10 wooden apple paper weight….I’m always down for free coffee. Or better yet, buy a coffee and take it to him/her. I would hug somebody if they handed me coffee.

    Think of it as an “I’m glad it’s you and not me” gift. That might take some of the agony and ridiculousness out of the whole deal.

    K, done rambling. Carry on.

  • Danie'

    WHAT??? This is my first year with a child in “real” school. She started her first day of Kindergarten today, woohoo. One down, two to go, haha. Who decided we should start buying gifts for teachers? I certainly didn’t get that memo. Why should I buy you a gift for doing your job? I understand your doing a great thing, blah, blah, blah but people don’t buy my husband a gift because he kept their rig on the road. I don’t buy the cashier at Walmart a gift because she rang me up. Why would I buy you a gift? I didn’t tell you to pick this job, so why do need extras for doing it? Yeah, no thanks.

  • Kateri Von Steal


  • mamadawn

    I also rage against loot bags at birthday parties. I gave you cake for Christ sakes and allowed your parents some modicum of peace for a few hours. I am not giving you a gift too. It’s my kids birthday.

  • mbwest

    This is a thing? Really? This is my 26th year of teaching and I’ve never gotten a back-to-school gift. Huh…now I feel deprived.
    Last year, I was back to teaching a week before my husband was, and he went to Jamba Juice for their $1 deal with $20 in his pocket and asked me who I wanted them delivered to. He made a lot of people happy for cheap, and it made me look good too. That’s as close to this as we’ve come.
    The thing I really hate as a parent is PICTURE DAY. You have to spend a bunch of money on pictures and you don’t get to be present to make sure your kids doesn’t look ridiculous when they take it? Seriously?

    • Lisa

      Srsly. . . Picture day. . .parents have to pay after the fact. . . . Not funny!!!

  • GG

    I think pinterest and advertisers are in cahoots on this one. If everyone appreciates everyone all the time just for showing up, we are setting the bar really low for the next generation (and the next and the next).

  • Karen

    If I were a parent, I would totally agree with you. Instead, I’m a new blogger who makes paper stuff. I wanted to do some kind of decoupage project and thought… how do I “position” this little dish I made? I know, it’s back to school time! Maybe this would be a cute gift for a teacher? Sorry to add to your angst but in case you want to let your kids do a craft project (and not have it clutter up your house), you could give this a try:

    Of course, you could wait until your bank account has been replenished. Or wait to see if your kids like their teachers. Or you do. Or make them for valentines day. Or wait until the end of the year and tuck your letter inside because yeah, a letter is obviously the most authentic way to thank a great teacher. But I can’t put your letter on my blog. Unless you want me to decoupage it for you. 🙂

  • Esperanza

    This is my tenth year teaching. I have never heard of Back to School presents, nor have I ever received one. And I get $5 Starbucks gift certificates all the time. Heck, I’ve even gotten $5 Target gift cards. But any gift card is better than some dumb chotchkey so I don’t complain. 😉

  • Renee'

    I come from a family of teacher. Do you know what meant the most to them? It was the cards, letters and visits from former students, not the stupid shit they got as gifts. Have the kids make them a card wishing them a great year and tell them how much they is looking forward to this year. That is sufficient,(and probably the best)and will mean more to the teacher than any old Starbucks card!

  • Heidi Bechtel

    I’m sorry, but I think you got one wrong. I for one would like your feet if you got me a $5 starbucks giftcard.

    • Lisa


  • Heidi Bechtel


  • Teri

    My thoughts exactly, but so much better!! I agree…how do you appreciate someone for something they haven’t done yet? I let the teachers know at the end of the year (or at a conference) that I appreciate what the have been able to do with my son. I also let them know that my son is smart enough to know when he is being “tolerated” or when a teacher genuinely enjoys expanding a teens mind. There are some of each in his school history. He is entering his sophomore year of high school, so I fully expect there to be more of each. And no..I wont be sending him in with any gifts, other than his charm, wit and ability to sniff out bullshit!

  • Michele Linder

    I love that you say what many are thinking. I was in your shoes over 15 years ago with four kids starting school and not a lot of extra money. I too railed against the cutesy things that we are goaded into doing. Sure, I baked my share of cupcakes and attended holiday parties, but mostly I volunteered my time in ways that were different and, I felt, more meaningful. I made resources for Special Ed, I tutored third-graders whose first language wasn’t English, I graded papers for the teacher, and I sewed costumes (a bookworm and Izzy the Olympic mascot–we lived in Atlanta and the Olympics were there that year) for our Elementary School Principal who went around to every classroom for reading time. At the end of the year I might make a thoughtful gift that cost next to nothing to show appreciation, but I’m with you, a gift for the teacher before school even starts is ridiculous.

    It’s words that mean the most… one of the gifts I gave to especially wonderful Elementary School teachers is a poster of Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” where I meticulously matched the type and replaced “Kindergarten” with the teacher’s name (Mrs. Collin’s Third Grade Class) and class. The teachers hung this in their classroom and really liked it.

    I also taught pre-school for 7 years and was the recipient of endless gifts from my students. The only thing I kept and that meant something were the things that the kids made themselves and their parents’ letters. You won’t find a “Best Teacher” coffee mug in my cabinet. ~~Michele

  • A Pleasant House

    I love you. I really do.

  • Charlotte Covington

    This was a great start to a day….reading this. I feel like this trying to figure out every holiday gift for my kids’ teachers. So I usually just go the nice note route.
    Was Ms. Heaton the horrible PE techer? She used to watch to make sure everyone showered….creepy and weird. She had her own issues.
    Side note: My sons are now attending San Gabriel and Mr. Zuniga is still there. Although we never learned our presidents or our states in his class…I did remember writing a paper about the Beatles “She’s leaving Home”.

  • Becki

    I am a teacher and this is new to me… and unexpected! I once was given flowers at the start of the year which was lovely but not necessary. I don’t buy them for my kids’ teachers.

    I have kept every lovely note from parents though and cried as I read them.

  • penny

    Seriously back to school has become such a commercial holiday. Just an FYI from a teacher, don’t buy me anything!!!!! Seriously, all I want from parents is to send their kids to school with closed toed shoes and a coat, a backpack filled with paper and pencil, breakfast in their bellies and a lunch. Oh and if you can help them with their homework… that would be most appreciated!!

  • Allison

    This list is just getting longer.

    1. back-to-school teacher appreciation gifts
    2. gifts/treats for the delivery room nurses/OBGYN
    3. gifts/treats for my older children when the new baby arrives
    4. gifts/treats for my husband when the new baby arrives


  • Annie Shafai

    Damn! I fucking love you.

  • Jaana

    i’m a dick too. i hate these sort of “holidays” TOO MUCH PRESSURE!!

  • Jess

    I’ve never heard of teacher gifts at the beginning of the year. End of year gifts, yes. And I’m occasionally on top of things enough to get those, but usually not. I agree with everyone who said that the teachers will appreciate your letters far more than any gift you could give them.

  • Julia

    It’s really the back to school I’m a better mom than you contest. My kids are wearing old clothes carrying lunch they made themselves and supplies that didn’t get used up last year so I guess the Pinterest moms win…for now. We’ll talk again when my kids are grown and living on their own within their means and doing a decent days work without any appreciation necessary.

  • Leigh Ann

    Dear God I really need this to NOT become a thing. I have a hard enough time with Teacher Appreciation Week and end of school gifts.

  • Diane

    This seems to boil down to insecurity, almost like people need to prove themselves with outward displays of how well they’re doing as parents. I would rather spend the last days of summer with my kid playing and having fun than crafting, but that’s just me. Once she’s school age, we will discuss respect and appreciation for teachers but I have really been trying to show her (by example) that spending money and giving gifts is not how to mark every occasion in life. As someone who taught for 9 years, I agree with everyone whose favorite things are notes and letters, and parents who support their children’s education.

    PS. I think it’s important to note that teachers are not asking for this stuff (at least where I taught). I hate to see it get turned around to, “Why should I get you something for a job you haven’t done yet?” as if the teachers were adding Back to School gifts to the supply lists.

  • Heather

    I just want you to know that everybody thinks I am so nice, but in reality I am s SUPER dickhead! It’s true….I don’t get how they are seeing “nice.” *shrug…anyway, Again you said everything here. I have nothing more to add, only that I appreciate YOU because of this!!! YOu are my soul sister! <3

  • C Smith

    I have been a teacher, and let me tell you, teachers do not expect back to school gifts. In fact, they are kind of an annoyance. We are way too busy on the first day to deal with gifts. And then there’s having to worry about being properly appreciative without making other kids feel badly about not bringing a gift. We don’t even know these kids yet so in a week or so we probably won’t even be able to remember who brought what. So, if parents are hoping to start their kid off on a good note, the effort is wasted.
    What teachers really like is a thank you. A sincere, “thanks for helping my kid learn fractions when they made him feel stupid”, or “thanks for noticing my daughter being picked on by the class bully and stepping in”.

  • Zoe

    I LOVE THIS BLOG!!!! I am that kind of parent already, and our oldest is starting pre-school next week. I haven’t even found out what classroom she’s in or who her teacher is. Because I DON’T CARE. I’ll find out on Monday.
    P.S. Did you get to go see DM3 and Willie at Pozo yesterday?

  • melissa

    I don’t think a teacher would look down their nose at a $5 gift card. For one thing, they may not have much more than five bucks in the gift budget, themselves. For another, teachers know all too well that one family’s $5 may be another family’s $500. And lastly, they work with children, who will give you sequins and half-chewed cookies as their most heartfelt tokens of love; they are used to counting the thought.

    Which is all not to say you should buy the gift card for a person you don’t even know yet. I’m just saying, never be ashamed of your $5 gift. It’s a *gift*.

  • TJ

    I make shit off Pinterest every week and blog about it. But would I jump on the teacher appreciation bandwagon? Fuck no. There are plenty of important jobs out there and I’m not about to reward those employees for coming back to work after their long stretch of holidays either.
    Oh that’s right, in other jobs they don’t get long stretches of holidays!
    It’s all a conspiracy & we must band together to prevent such garbage taking hold. Plus I can’t be bothered.

  • Lisa

    Hahahahaha!!! My daughter isn’t school-age yet, but I am with you here. This is ridiculous. My parents were career teachers. You know what happens to all the random coffee mugs and apple chotchkies? Garage sales. Goodwill. Yes, they kept a few special gifts, but what meant the most to them were the heartfelt expressions of thanks from students and parents (once they had, you know, developed a relationship with them). Be involved with your child’s education. Partner with the teachers to the best of your ability. They will appreciate that far more than a mason jar with cookie mix. Besides, teachers are broke too, so they understand not being able to afford Starbucks gift cards.

    Also, Rush is the worst.

  • Sam Alberts

    I’m a dick too.

  • Rebecca

    I wouldn’t buy them either. I also don’t send cake on my kids’ birthdays, don’t allow my kids to add treats to their Christmas cards, give out Easter eggs to every student, or invite the entire class to birthday parties. I don’t do end-of-year presents for teachers (those that have rocked my kids worlds know they have because I tell them).

    And I can afford it, it’s not about the money, it’s the principle of the thing and the ridiculousness of the idea that “things” make people happy. Based on the teachers’ responses here, they’d much prefer a well-thought-out letter at the end of the year.

    I loved the comment about it being a I’m The Best Mum competition. It SO is.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one buying into this shit.

    (oh, and none of the other mums talk about me – and if they don’t I don’t give a rats arse – and my kids are happy and thriving – no need to change my ways)

  • Jamey

    You’re not a jerk. I’m a teacher and all it takes are simple, thoughtful gestures. My favorite is when a parent offers to bring me a coffee from Starbucks, especially on the morning of a field trip. We’re not teachers for the praise or money. Most people teach because it is (or once was) a calling. But everyone likes to know they’re doing a good job, and kids usually aren’t the ones to say it. Keep it simple. No beginning, middle or end of the year school gifts are necessary (for me – can’t speak for all teachers), just kindness and respect for what I do. And it sounds like you already have that covered.

  • lisaeggs

    If you are mean and a freak, then long live the mean freaks!!! This is so ridiculous! I don’t see one opposing comment, everyone here seems to get that this is insane, so my question is: who are these people who are actually doing this??? I’m glad I have to ask! And if you are a teacher and you get one of these things, what are your thoughts? I think I would really be baffled. xoxo

  • Beth

    Liberal is not bad thing and Rush Limbagh is a dick , Not you.

    • melissa

      No, there’s a type of self-satisfied liberal that’s as much of a snob and a bigot as any 80s teen movie antagonist. If you see a Lexus SUV in a Whole Foods parking lot, look out!

  • Singing Pigs

    1. I am an educator 13 years into the profession.
    2. You are my perfect parent. Dear god in heaven, I would love to teach your kids. Primarily, because your curse like a sailor, which think could be loads of fun for our emailing back and forth.
    3. I have never heard of a Back To School Bullshit Gift. Nor do I want anymore coffee cups or Starbucks cards. A sincere letter would be nice. I’ve gotten like two of those in my entire career despite thinking I’m a relatively competent teacher.
    4. I’m probably as dicky as you, at heart. Most of us teachers are.

    Happy school year!

  • Karen

    My son has multiple disabilities (autism, ID, etc) and goes to a special developmental school. I write his teacher (and teacher’s aide) a thank you letter at the end of every year, and generally bake something (shortbread last year, they loved it) because I’m too broke to buy them crap they didn’t really want anyway. Why do I do this? Because they work so gods damned hard, for no extra money than their mainstream colleagues get, and they love the hells out of those kids. Over the years, kiddo’s various teachers have helped toilet train him, get him to learn how to dress himself, made him eat his vegetables and other difficult foods, have helped him learn to swim, to sit still for longer than 30 seconds, to begin to read and write, to SPEAK… The list goes on. They deserve a medal, each and every one of them.

  • Robyn

    For the record, I am dishing out a little something for a Back to School Teacher Appreciation gift, mostly because we are a homeschooling family and damn it I deserve a $5 cup of coffee for teaching my 3 darlings to be a productive and literate part of society. Not going for the $10 because like you, I may not like their teacher much in 4-7 months, which will be my first clue that another $5 splurge may be in order. Thanks for keeping it real!

  • Miranda

    There is a reason you feel uncomfortable with this, because you are a decent human being that understands that this is not the appropriate way to show another human genuine appreciation. Just like buying your kid a crap-load of toys doesn’t show how great you think they are. This is just another in the long line of reasons I am heading towards homeschool. Yipes!

  • Lara

    I’ve been having the exact same thoughts when I see this crap on pintrist. As a teacher, when someone brings me something like that when school starts, my initial thoughts are either “you (the parent) are going to be a huge pain in my ass, aren’t you?” or “oh God, this kid may be possessed.” It’s just overkill, and I honestly feel like people are trying to suck up, which just pisses me off. Honestly, the best thing I’ve gotten at the beginning of the school year was when a parent donated a case of wipes to the classroom…now that I appreciate!

  • Victoria

    I am a teacher. In my 13 humble years as a teacher, I have never heard of a back to school gift. It would feel inappropriate to receive one, quite honestly. You know what the best gift is for any teacher? (Well, I will speak for myself…) Love your child. Support your child. Help us help them with clear and honest communication between parent and teacher, no matter how much it hurts to hear. Be OPEN to working together as as team, parent AND teacher. You are their first teacher. We are lucky enough to spend our limited time with them.

  • Pam @ Whatevs...

    I love this post. I hate the concept of teacher appreciation gifts. And I hope this does not catch on in the 3.5 years before my child starts school but I’m afraid it will anyway and I too will have to choose between looking like an asshole or sucking up to the possibly awful teacher.

  • Beth

    Sweet baby jesus, I think you may be my soul mate.

  • Andrea

    As a wife of a teacher…honestly he absolutely doesn’t want a teacher appreciation gift. He wouldn’t fucking know what to do with it, feel awkward and think you were some sort of bizarre kiss ass shitty parent looking for favoritism for your probably obnoxious kid.
    Want to do something a teacher will appreciate? Help your kids with their homework. Show up at a parent teacher conference. If you volunteer to chaperone a field trip, hang up your cell phone and chaperone.
    Shit like that means more to him than any Mason jar full of cookie crap that he’s just going to have to shove into his bag and bring home to me to figure out how to cook the damn stuff anyway.

  • CW

    Thank you for being a horrible human being….you represent us well. I really do sometimes think that you live inside my head!

  • Julie

    Thank you so much for letting me know I’m not alone.

  • Up

    I’m a teacher and here is something else to add to your rant. Those kids who show up with gifts just make the rest of the kids feel bad for not having brought some dust collecting knick knack, and all the teachers I know have their hearts break for each of those kids who are feeling inadequate for no reason ……and parents, if you are doing it to suck up, it doesn’t work. The best way to get on the teachers good side is by not being an obnoxious helicopter parent who tries to tell the teacher how to do their job.

    PS just found your blog and LOVE IT!

  • Julie S

    Dumbest. Shit. Ever.

  • Mom

    I get my sons teacher anytime of the year gifts. It’s bribery. She’s awesome. She has also been his teacher since 1st grade. He just started fourth. We dont do cheesy crap either, but real gifts. Yummy food, wine, gift certificates to spas, we all chip in for extra proffesional development in subjects she is interested in like bee keeping, handmade crafts for her classroom, or GC to her favorite seed catalog. (can you say hippy charter school) She has become part of the family and takes amazingly good care of my son while teaching him. Of course we appreciate her and tell her often, but we also shower her with gifts too!

  • Pam

    Best gift to give to your teacher is their paycheck that you are paying with your tax dollars. They are getting paid well. Those that complain need to work at a gas station.

  • Emily

    “elitist, out-of-touch privileged yuppie liberals who think they’re all enlightened and against-the-system when actually their whole life is founded on the system they learned to hate in that liberal private girls’ college”

    I’m in a Facebook group for moms from my liberal private girls’ college. I would put down money that half of them have tried to send in applications to Los Feliz Day Care.

  • Spenser

    If the teacher turns out to be good, give them a jar of lotion that you have made. If they turn out to be bad, give them a jar of deoderant that causes rashes. But yeah. No “Teacher Appreciation Gift” beforehand. That’s so NOT a thing. You buy into that I have a bridge in Brooklyn for ya.

  • Joyce

    I was googling why Americans even give the teachers gifts at the end of the year. Because where I’m from, this isn’t a thing. I was watching a crafting video that showed some examples of gifts for teachers, and it made me think: do they even want those trinkets and doodaas? Imagine getting each year about 30 or more crappy things you will never use.

    Instead, make sure they make a decent salary…

  • Frustrated

    This week is teacher appreciation week, and it has been a nightmare for my first grader and my family. My younger daughter is in a kindergarten/1st grade combo class and my 4th grader has two teachers that share the class. (I know right?) Including the teacher’s aid there are 4.

    So, when holidays come around, teacher’s birthdays, fundraisers etc and especially T.A.W. it becomes beyond stressful. My first grader’s teacher is an anal retentive dictator. It’s her way or the high way. I know she’s the most experienced teacher at our school, but as a former teacher myself, I can see the injustice in her student favoritisms, her unrealistic expectations in her students and parents (we should be able to read her mind), and her inability to see that her obviously indifferent treatments towards certain students like my daughter is causing them to feel inadequate. Tuesday was bring a flower to your teacher day. I wasn’t home on Monday due to a family emergency, so the next morning we picked freshly bloomed honeysuckles and lavender and tied a ribbon around it for the 4 teachers. According to my younger daughter. When she handed her teacher her flower, her teacher didn’t show any interest in her flowers. The other students bought nice bouquets of arranged flowers, but we didnt. (I saw the pictures posted.) Boy, did I feel so small. Before they entered the class, they handed their teacher their flowers, and those that brought bouquets got great acknowledgement. This wasn’t the last hurtful experience, every day something else occurred, and my younger daughter was so saddened by the teachers absent reaction for her gifts.

    TAW has been a forced made up week that brings more harm then good. Teachers are usually left feeling worse and many parents who go buck wild for TAW create unwanted competition and bribery. I vote for prohibiting forced TAW. Appreciation can be shown in so many different ways.

    Thanks for listening!