Remembering your Secondary Teachers this Christmas

Teachers appreciate recognition of their hard work and efforts year round, but the holidays really bring out the most from students and parents who want to recognize certain teachers. This can sometimes leave some teachers feeling left out or forgotten. So, use this blog post and the lists inside to help you decide who to recognize and when the right time is to do so.
At least once per school year, I hit THAT moment - the low point, the one in which I question why I'm still doing this, what the cost of teaching has been to my friends and family, why I bother to do things that no one seems to notice but me, what a weeknight would look like if I had no work to bring home.

During that night, I eat some chocolate, look up funny things on Pinterest as a distraction, hug my husband and puppy a little tighter, and browse job openings in my town, just out of curiosity. 

And then when I'm ready, I go to my filing cabinet and get out my happy folder - the place where I have preserved the thank you notes, drawings, emails, cards, and letters from students who meant what they were saying.

I read through some of them until I have enough spirit again to go back to my grading pile and get up the next morning.

These precious artifacts mean the world to me and are there when I need them. The students and parents who wrote those notes have no idea that their words still serve as life rafts in dark moments, but they are living proof that the phrase "it's the thought that counts" is completely true for teachers. 

Teachers appreciate recognition of their hard work and efforts year round, but the holidays really bring out the most from students and parents who want to recognize certain teachers. This can sometimes leave some teachers feeling left out or forgotten. So, use this blog post and the lists inside to help you decide who to recognize and when the right time is to do so.
A peek from my happy thoughts file

Chances are, there are teachers and staff in your school who feel the same way I do - who quietly live off the small gestures of positivity amidst days filled with questioning or downright criticism. It's not that we are praise junkies, can't derive joy from our work, or have zero self-esteem; it's just that teaching, like many professions, is full of red tape, low resources, and difficult "clients", and those factors can all be draining. Teachers need to hear that what they are doing is being noticed, is working, or is at least appreciated. 

In this post, I hope to help challenge your thinking about which adults in your school could merit some warmth from you this holiday season. 

First, some disclaimers:
Despite what I said earlier about how much teachers benefit from appreciation, gift-giving at school can be tricky. Families hesitate with what to give to whom. Students might waver between sheepish and exuberant at the idea of gift giving to an adult. Teachers like to be remembered, but don't want to create pressure, either. 

What makes teacher gifting even harder is watching certain teachers in the building get recognition while others don't. It's the narrative that no one wants to talk about. The feeling of being forgotten is even worse when a teacher has gone above the call of duty and never hears a verbal thank you.

Please remember that: 

1) This post applies to any holiday you wish to celebrate - Christmas, teacher birthdays, Valentine's Day, or Just Because.

2) This post does not just apply to GIFTS. In fact, most teachers would rather get a heartfelt note they can keep forever than a present that may not last as long. (Though we truly appreciate any gesture!)

3) This post is not trying to guilt you into giving something to every single adult in the school building. Rather, use these ideas to evaluate if there is a significant teacher or support person who is on the verge of being forgotten instead of lifted up in the way that you choose.

4) Consider the culture of your school. Some buildings really value fairness in giving to all teachers, have no rules at all about it, or really want you to stick to cards instead of gifts. Ask around to confirm what is most appropriate where you live. 

Next, consider this list if you are:
  • A parent considering an act of teacher appreciation
  • A student who wants to give thanks
  • A teacher who wants to appreciate someone else in the building
  • An administrator who wants to ensure that everyone feels gratitude
When you sit down to write, craft, or shop, think about:

Support staff: Think about bus drivers, guidance counselors, aides, and volunteers. Thank anyone who either helps your child daily or who rose to the occasion when your child really needed it last semester.

Tutors and Specialists: Who goes out of their way to make sure your student gets the help that he or she needs? Is there a teacher who has really championed your child's special needs? Does someone go out on a limb for your child or dedicate extra time and attention to him/her?

"Specials" and Elective teachers: Don't forget the choir, band, art, gym, and foreign language teachers! Just because yearbook isn't required for graduation doesn't mean that teacher doesn't put a ton of hours into giving each child a good experience, especially if YOUR student has particularly benefited. 

Coaches & Leaders: Is your student in a club? A sport? An academic team? An honor society? Is there an adult behind that organization who makes it possible? 

Administrators: Acts of kindness in this direction can be rare, since these people are often putting out fires and have to make more peace than they receive. Think of them if someone in the office has had your back when it was needed. 

Academic and Homeroom teachers: who has spent extra time giving help, feedback, or instruction? Who turned around your child's attitude about his or her subject? Who conducts his or her class in a manner that really benefits your student? Who has helped your child gain visible improvement? Tell that teacher what he or she is doing right. 

The bottom line? 
Ask yourself which adults in the school make your child happy or successful, whether or not that teacher knows how you feel, and if now is your best time to share those thoughts. 

No comments

Back to Top