Friday, December 16, 2011

Teachers Gifts: Are they acceptable?

I am a Georgia teacher, but have recently read many facebook posts from my Alabama friends in reference to a new law that could potentially land teachers in jail if they accept gifts from students/parents. These gifts would be equivalent to bribary, according to this law. However, many think this is just silly. You can read more HERE

While I have never once thought of a gift from one of my students as a bribe and I have never once provided any favors for a student or parent due to their gift giving, I have been troubled by one aspects of receiving gifts from students......the feeling of those students who can't afford to give gifts. I work in a diverse school. It never fails, each year I have students walk into my classroom the last day before Christmas with big bags with beautful curly ribbons and bows who are super anxious for me to open my present from them. I also have students who walk in with nothing more than they have each day, their bookbag and maybe a few school supplies. I always worry about how these students must feel about not being able to give me gifts. I always want to underplay my appreciation for the gifts in an effort to preserve their feelings. On the other hand, I do not want the students who bring me the gifts to think I am not appreciative, because they too have feelings and I would never want to hurt them either. So what's a teacher to do?

First of all, I always tell my students that the BEST gift they can give me is to be kind to one another and always do their best. But next year, I may take a different approach. Instead, I think I may request that in lieu of a personal gift, students/parents wishing to give me a holiday gift choose an item off of a classroom wish list and buy an item for our classroom. Or if they are happy with the job I am doing, they could write a letter to my principal telling her so. On of the best gifts ever given to me, though not given as a gift, was a two page letter that a mother wrote me telling me what an impact I had on her child's life and the he will be a better person because of me. She also went on to mention that people in her family never went to college, but she is sure her son (who was only 8 at the time) would and would attend the same college I attended because I talked so much about it. WOW! Can it get any better for a teacher than to hear those words? Those are the kind of gifts I wish all parents would give me.
What are your thoughts on teacher gifts from students?


  1. I teach in Alabama and personally think the law is ridiculous. I have never received anything of "great" value. The things I value most are the letters, cards, and notes...but at the same time, I, as a parent, give presents to my kids' teachers...or other people who touch my life or theirs. Why should someone limit my ability to do so? It is not a bribe...I mean, who can imagine a first grade teacher taking a bribe to do something illegal for a 6 year old? So what if a parent gives me a $10 gift card to Amazon...which I use to buy books. The entire issue raises serious questions about our lawmakers and their true motives.
    First Grade Blue Skies

  2. I'm in Arkansas and I think that this law is silly!! This year is the first in a long time that I have had any kind of gifts given. In the past I have had one or two gifts, mostly homemade pictures or baked goods. This year it is evident that my kiddos have come to get my love for Dr. Pepper. I basically was given a 6 pack one Dr Pepper at a time. My kiddos come from very low income homes and I know money is tight. I feel blessed to think that they wanted to send me anything, and to remember that their teacher LOVES Dr Pepper is even better. I can not imagine telling one of those angels that I can't take their gift. So sad

  3. At my school our room parent from PTO collects donations at Christmas from those who want to give and we get a gift card with every child's name on it whether they gave $0, $1, $5 or whatever. It is nice because it can be used towards anything from Walmart to a fancy restaurant and ever child is included. Some years it is a small amount and others more. But my best gifts are edible or homemade...what can I say.
    2B Honey Bunch

  4. What a silly law!
    Today was the last day of school before our break and I received a homemade chocolate chip cake from a student's German grandma (I drooled over the piece he brought for lunch this week lol - guess he went home and told them!) a sweet little reindeer ornament for my tree and a "snowball" - a students had colored several pages with a blue marker and then crumpled them up together. I thanked each precious child and then tucked them away, because a few of the others started promising to bring me presents "tomorrow". I told them I didn't need any more presents and I was just hoping that we would all have a good day - that's the best present they could give me.

    On the other hand, I got gifts for my boys' teachers, but I would never expect them to favor my child because of that. I did have each boy write a note to his teacher, thanking them for being a good teacher - and I suspect that is the part of the gift their teachers will treasure the most!

    Jennifer @ Herding Kats In Kindergarten

  5. I agree with Jennifer...ridiculous! I live in Georgia, too. My concern is also for those children who can't afford to get me a gift. I always tell all my children that the best gift they can give me for Christmas, the end of the year, and any other holiday is to have the very best behavior! It works...sometimes! ;) I have also created a Lakeshore wishlist which I e-mailed to my parents as an alternative to gifts. Of course, I still got several gifts. :/ I tried...that's all I suppose one can do. :)


    Stapler’s Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

  6. I teach at a Title 1 school and receive nothing. Maybe, just maybe I'll get a few cards, but that's it. On the other hand, my sister works at a magnet school a few blocks over and she is showered with gifts all of the time. One year she received a mini refrigerator for her classroom. Another year she received $100 gift certificate towards a nice restaurant in our town. But, I still think that law is stupid. We should get gifts all of the time for all we do!!


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