I had no training. No curriculum. No clue. What I did have was a love for my subject (media arts) and a love of teenagers.
But I quickly discovered those two things aren't enough. It's like trying to fight a war equipped with a Nerf gun and a sunny disposition. To say it was a miserable period in my life would be an understatement. I cared for my students, but I had zero control of my classroom. I cried a lot, and my students watched The Matrix a lot, and we all muddled through together.
By the time we got to the end of school that first year, I was in a perpetual stupor. I spent a lot of time staring catatonically out the window, counting the seconds until summer.
On the last day of school, I found a note on my desk. It was written by one of my upper-level, video-editing students. A thank you card. In it, Grant acknowledged that the toughness of the year, but he thanked me (THANKED ME!) for sticking it out. Then he wrote down a bunch of memories he carried away with him, funny moments, afternoons spent in the editing suite adding crazy effects to the video yearbook. He recorded them, he said, because he didn't think I would remember them, what with the haze and all, and he wanted me to know I was appreciated. That I had made a difference in his life.
I put my head down on my desk and sobbed.
I got a few other teacher gifts that day: a gift card to a movie theater, Starbucks paraphernalia.
But that card? It was my treasure.
I tell you this story, not to tell you teacher's don't appreciate gifts, because they do. They love getting Starbucks cards and gift certificates for the local garden center and they love homemade bread and spice mixes and boxes of school supplies for next year's classrooms.
(What they don't like, as much? Mugs. Anything with apples on it. Kitschy plaques. Picture frames. Tchotchkes. No teacher will tell this to your face, so I'm doing it for them.)
But what your child's teacher would love more than anything is a heartfelt thank you.
Enter this free, printable, fill-in-the-blanks teacher thank you from Lil Blue Boo. All you need is some card-stock weight paper and a color printer.
Natalie used these last year to make year-end gifts for her fifth-grade teachers. She filled in the blanks herself, but if your child is younger, you could certainly get them to dictate the answers to you.
("You are the most suspensing teacher." I die.)
We attached the cards to jars of homemade granola, as you see above, because we wanted to add a personal touch. But while the granola was appreciated, I bet it was the note that was most prized.
We can't say thank you enough.
Looking for other ideas for teacher gifts?
This is a cute way to package a coffee shop gift card.
And I love this for a restaurant gift card.
Or you could get some tumblers and stuff them with instant drink packets AND a personalized thank you, like this.
Or surf Pinterest for more ideas. You know they are out there. Just promise me: no apples.