Teacher Gifts

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Categories Community, Education, How Do The Moms Do It, Other people, SchoolTags , , , , 6 Comments
Photo Credit: Naenia Ivella
Photo Credit: Naenia Ivella

It’s the last week of the school year, so it’s time to show my appreciation for my daughters’ teachers in the form of gifts. There’s certainly no obligation to give a gift, but I think it’s a nice gesture. I’d venture to say that most of my friends get their kids’ teachers, at least their classroom teachers, end-of-year gifts.

Last year, I had three teachers to thank: each child’s kindergarten teacher plus the first grade teacher into whose class they both skipped mid-year.

This year, I was astonished to find myself writing 19 thank you cards to go with the teacher gifts I’d picked up. My initial reaction was, “This is nuts… and crazy expensive.” A few hours later, though, a different perspective occurred to me. There were 19 different people, at least, who’d taken the time to nurture and teach my children during their first year at this new school. They were the reason that my divorce, our move away from Daddy, and my ex’s remarriage didn’t appear to have had too much of a negative impact on the kids. These 19 people were among those who’d provided the structure and stability in which my daughters have flourished. They’re the ones who put smiles on J and M’s faces when I drive off to work, so I can confidently leave them in the care of others–these very others–11 hours every weekday.

The people I shopped for were

  • M and J’s classroom (math, science, social studies, English, Spanish) teachers (2)
  • “Specials” (art, music, P.E.) teachers (7)
  • Talented and Gifted teacher (1)
  • School counselors (2)
  • After school care counselors (6)
  • Principal (1)

Usually, I make thank you gifts. I’ll make a teacher’s favourite cookie or try my hand at a non-allergenic recipe for a treat another has mentioned that they can’t eat any more. I’ll cross stitch a small piece of art on a topic covered during the school year, or make a special bookmark.

This year, I just haven’t had the time. I resorted to gift cards for Amazon or iTunes, except for four recipients: three are pregnant or have just given birth and the other is also a MoM. They got goodies from my gift stash. When I see baby gear or art kits on sale or discover a book I really love, I buy several to keep on hand for baby showers and wedding or birthday gifts. I limit my stash to 5 baby gifts and 10 art kits or books, because my house would get even crazier than it is otherwise.

Since this year’s gifts were pretty impersonal, I put an extra effort into the thank you cards. Usually, I would just have the girls make cards themselves. This year, though, I wanted each person to know that I had noticed their efforts for my daughters. I wanted them to know that they’d made a difference. I especially wanted the teachers I haven’t met to know that my daughters talk about them at home and remember what they’ve taught them.

M’s been dreading today. She doesn’t want the school year to end. Part of it is that she doesn’t like change, but the other part is that she genuinely loves school. The gifts I give my daughters’ teachers pale in comparison to the lifelong gifts they’ve given my children: a love of learning, a boost in confidence, and a sense of security.

Do you give teacher gifts? To whom? What are some good gift ideas?

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Categories Classroom Placement, Difference, Education, Identical, Independence, Older Children, School, School-AgeTags , , , , , Leave a comment

I’ve made an informed decision. My daughters will be in the same classroom for second grade.

I solicited opinions from the people who know best what the classroom dynamic is between my identical twins, their teachers and counselors. Not only are all four of them thoughtful educators who know my daughters very well, one of the teachers is herself a twin and one of the counselors is a mom of twin boys.

While the general approach was that separation was often good for twins in general, no one seemed to have serious concerns about J and M being disruptive, distracted or under-performing should they be in the same classroom. M’s teacher clearly leaned towards encouraging apart time, but her concerns were general rather than specific. I was looking for reasons to reject my daughter’ preference. After all, I’m trying to teach them to make good decisions for themselves and dealing with the consequences of the bad ones. Their father didn’t care either way whether they are in the same classroom next year.

The only people with extremely strong opinions were M and J themselves, and they want to be together. I’ve asked them over and over whether they still want this, and they’re not budging, not even while in the middle of heated arguments with each other.

The feedback that I was going to weigh the heaviest was that from J’s classroom teacher. He teaches the girls separately for math and together for language arts. I do have to say that I feel for him. During Reading and Writing Workshop, he has not only my identical twin daughters, but another set of identical twin girls too! He says he calls someone the wrong name just about every day, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have trouble telling his students apart. I still sometimes call my daughter M by my sister’s name. They look, sound, and behave nothing alike. The only commonality is that they both let me kiss them on the nose.

But I digress.

Here’s what J’s teacher said: “I really think they will do great either way you decide. In second grade they wouldn’t see as much of each other as they do now if they are put in separate classes, so that is one thing to consider.”

I did consider that. As Dr. Segal mentioned in her post, just a glance at a twin to know she’s okay can help a child focus in class. My daughters have friends in common, but they have different best friends. They play together, but they’re as often apart as together at recess. They don’t feel the need to dress alike and have made their mark at school both as individuals and as sisters. I suspect that M and J know exactly what they need to be successful.

To round out the perspectives I got, here’s what M’s teacher had to say:

I appreciate you taking my opinion in consideration.
J and M are doing extremely well in separate classrooms. I think they need to learn to be apart from each other for longer periods of time. Granted they are in separate classrooms, they spend half of the day together during Writing and Reading workshop due to the nature of the Dual Language Program.
I can tell you from being a twin myself that being apart from my sister was very beneficial for us. We learned to speak up by ourselves whereas when we were together one or the other always spoke up for both. Being by ourselves taught us to be individuals.
I see it as the best of both worlds….time together and time apart!
Thank you!
And from the counselor the girls are closest to:
Since they are already in dual language together and are in class together part of the day, I think the teachers would be most helpful in letting you know how that works. During group with me, I noticed that they finish each other’s sentences/interrupt each other and are a little sillier when together, which is typical of sisters.  That makes me wonder if that would happen in class if together. On the other hand, they are also very helpful to each other and get along very well. Since I had them in a small group, I think their behavior is probably different in a large classroom setting. I would lean towards suggesting they be in separate classes, especially since they have dual language together part of the day. But I am comfortable supporting whatever decision you make.
This time next year, we’ll be making this decision all over again. It’s a new decision every time.


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