This is the time of year when teachers think about how far their students have come and how much more they need to learn before the summer break. Many teachers consider giving their students holiday presents such as books, pencils and art supplies. I remember being a student and always looking forward to a gift from my teacher. I loved getting the mini stockings with personalized pencils embossed with my name in gold letters surrounded by chocolates and small candy canes. The memory of my teacher handing me a stocking and sending me off with a hug and a Merry Christmas is something that I have always treasured. Looking back I realize that many of the gifts that my teachers gave me did not come wrapped in a stocking and I didn’t come to see them as gifts until much later in life.
Below are some of the best gifts my teachers ever gave me:
Confidence: Some of my teachers recognized my uncertainty and provided me with the challenges and encouragement I needed to thrive as a student.
Discipline: I was not always the most compliant student and needed structure, guidelines and boundaries in order to stay on course.
Understanding: My best teachers knew how to balance my needs while not trying to change the person that I was becoming.
Modeling: It was important for me as a child to see successful professional women in the workforce.
Problem Solving Skills: I truly appreciate the teachers that never made it too easy or allowed me to do less than my best. The teachers that made me think to the point of frustration are the teachers that I have grown to respect the most.
Fun: School was serious business when I was a student; there was little time off task and as a recall far too many textbooks. As a teacher, I now understand what it takes to make learning fun and I applaud those teachers that modeled that skill for me as a student.
If you are a teacher struggling with gift giving for students, remember that everyday that you give of yourself openly to your students is a gift. The best gift you can every give them is you.