Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Happy Teacher Appreciation Day!

May is the month I feel like I am standing in the middle of the highway dodging cars. Way too much going on, as the year winds down!
There are not too many jobs where you set goals, work hard to achieve them, only to wind down, wrap things up, pack up, to restart. 
Unfortunately teachers have a million things to do to wrap up, yet from the kids perspective all they see is the finish line and months of vacation! 
By the time I make it to the finish line, I need that vacation to recover from the sleepless nights, the frantic hours I spent running around wrapping up. 
Yet, as a teacher you also know, that vacation is short lived, because you start planning for the next year before the current ends and spend all summer planning to restart with the ambition of it being the best year ever! 

Because I understand what goes in to the job, I truly appreciate what teachers do. I appreciate all the teachers I learn from, and the teacher friends I have! 
Thank you to all of you for all of the great things you do for the kids each and every day of the year! 
Being that I am a teacher, you would think I would LOVE teacher appreciation week. Well, it might surprise you, but it is a tough week for me. 
I appreciate the love and support, but it is turning out to be a crazy event. What happened to saying thank you, recognizing phenomenal efforts without the crazy crafts and gifts? What happened to the simple end of the year gift to wish the teacher a relaxing summer with a genuine/heartfelt note?
I feel that as we "pin" cute gifts and try to keep up with the Joneses, the true meaning gets lost. 

Think about the family struggling to make ends meet, now throw in a request from a room parent to send in a snack on Monday, a fruit on Tuesday, a flower on Wednesday, something purple on Thursday, and a donation for a gift on Friday. Now multiply that times the number of kids they have. Now throw in the stress of adding a pun filled note, then add in the stress of remembering which day to send it and hoping the kid remembers to take it out of their bookbag! Yikes! Stressful and that can be pricey, especially when you are dealing with more than 1 child. 
So let me give you another perspective. What about the class who does not have a room mom? That teacher does not receive the "cutesy" appreciation. Is she less of a teacher? Is she less deserving? 
What about the parents who are unaware that there is such a thing as teacher appreciation? Then their kid sits in class and sees friends bringing in gifts daily while they sit thinking up a reason why they do not have anything to give the teacher. They worry that the kids might judge them or worse yet, the teacher might not like them. 
The cute, pinterest-inspired gifts are sweet. The attempt to shower the teacher with gifts is a great gesture. The idea of appreciating what a teacher does has good intentions. But since when, did we have to remind people to simply say, thanks? Why do we have to assign appreciation to a day? Why can't we appreciate and be thankful daily? 
I write this, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I know what I am talking about because this is the week that I go a little nuts trying to keep up with the Joneses, try to make sure I send in something cute, and make sure I let the teachers around me know I appreciate them. 
In addition, I deal with the emotions of being the unappreciated teacher. I console the kids who see friends bring in flowers, treats, and gift bags, yet they are empty-handed. I experience the, "I left your gift at home." or "I wanted to get you something." I even received a gift that was taken from mom's drawers and re-gifted to me. One year I received a can of deodorant.
This year, I received nothing. 
Does that mean I am less of a teacher? 
No, but with the lack of gifts and not having a decorated door it might appear that way to the ones bringing breakfast or lunch in daily.
What instead it means is, I had too much pride to send a letter home telling my parents that it was teacher appreciation week because this year I AM the room mom, no one volunteered. It means that I have parents who do not know what teacher appreciation week is or that it is this week. It means that I have parents working their tails off to make ends meet. 
Today, as I helped the kids create a card for my co-teacher, they raised their hands to tell me that they left my gift at home, they will bring me something another day, and their parents meant to buy something. I know that for many, it was a way to make themselves, and  me, feel better. What I told them is that I do not need gifts (no seriously, I can do without random candles and pieces of fruit) and that I felt it was more important to tell my co-teacher how important she was to us. I know she will appreciate the cards and their words more than any item.
Here is an idea. Why don't we try to appreciate teachers, parents, nurses, grocery clerks, parents all year long? 
Instead of a week of trinkets, how about writing a letter to your child's teacher or their principal to brag about all of the great things they do? 
I plan to do exactly that for my sons' teachers. I have yet to do that because I have a total of 7 thank you letters to write (2 of my sons have 3 teachers). Those letters are on my to do list! 
In the meantime though, I gave in to the requests of the room moms. I know their hearts are in the right places. They spent time planning the week out, and want to make the teacher feel special. So I helped them out by supporting their requests, in a way that financially fits me because I am lucky enough to be able to. 
Here are some pictures of the gifts I sent in. Yes, I am guilty of making them extra cute, but I could not resist. I also have some awesome clip art that I wanted to use. Thank you to Krista Wallden (Creative Clips) and Mel (Graphics from the Pond) for the great clip art that made these extra special. 
It has been so stressful, I almost ate these!
Reused Starbucks Iced Coffee bottle (painted the top), taped the papers on the sides, filled with Lindt truffles. My son's teacher said, "Thank you, I already ate the whole jar, yep, had a day like that too!"
"Thanks for helping me Bloom." 
I also made some relaxing bath salts and a salt foot soak for the teachers. 

The boys thought it smelled fantastic and even helped me try it out. With boy approval, I knew it was a perfect way to pamper the teachers. The effects lasted in to the next day, softer feet with a great aroma, not something you often hear about feet. 
With some epsom salt, baking soda, lemon or lime zest, peppermint essential oil (ordered from Amazon), and rosemary (only for the bath salt) you can make a simple and relaxing gift to pamper the teachers (or mom(s)) in your life. This recipe is so simple, it would even make a great Mother's Day craft to make with your students. 
I found the recipes on TidyMom and altered them slightly because I only had the peppermint essential oil. 
Lime Mint Foot Soak (ingredients: 2 cups epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, zest of 1 lime, 4-6 drops of peppermint essential oil) The recipe calls for lime essential oil, I omitted it and the mixture worked well. Mix together and add to bag or jar. 
Lemon, Rosemary & Mint Bath Salts (ingredients: 2 cups epsom salt, 1/2 cup baking soda, 2-3 tablespoons of freshly chopped rosemary, zest of 1 lemon, 4-6 drops of peppermint essential oil) The recipe called for lemon essential oil; I substituted the peppermint. Mix together and add to bag or jar.  (I doubled this recipe in order to make enough for all of the teachers - 13 total)
My boys were able to help, and like I mentioned, love trying the soaking salts out in the tub. They also loved presenting them to their teachers, one commented that she was hopping in the tub as soon as she got home! 
Another recycled Starbucks iced coffee jar. I filled up 3 jars with one recipe with a small bowl left over to try it out. I used  snack bags above and was able to make enough for my teammates and sons' 7 teachers. 
If you were racking your brain about something to make, I highly recommend the recipes for the bath salts. They smell phenomenal and provide relaxation, who can't appreciate that? 
I am thankful for Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried it Tuesdays. Check out her post and the links for other great ideas! I am also thankful for Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It linky party. Check out her post and the great ideas shared in the links. 

I am thankful for you , my follower and reader! Thank you for making it all the way to the bottom of this. I know this was a long post and somewhat all over the place. Even though part of my post was a little negative, I hope you got the gist of what I meant. It is important to appreciate, simple gestures mean a lot, I worry about all of the emphasis on the material items, and want to go back to some simpler times when simply writing a note was the best way to show appreciation!
I hope you have had a great day and have felt appreciated. 



  1. Where I taught, I never got anything for teacher appreciation week....except from administration or PTA. My favorite gifts are the hand-written letters that my students write me, telling me what a difference I've made in their lives. Those are the appreciation gifts I treasure and remember. A note or a card or a letter is always the best gift in my opinion...because it comes from the heart.
    Southern Fried Teachin’

  2. I love the handmade touch of the foot soaks and bath salts. We just get some gifts from the PTC and administration but not really students. Pinterest has been changing gift giving recently though I have to admit. Thanks for linking up! :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  3. I'm with you on your thought process! All of it! XOXO
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'


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