The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Parental Torture, I mean, Teacher Appreciation Week

Well it’s Teacher Appreciation Week here in the good ol’ US of A.

Yes, you heard me. I said WEEK.

Oh hold yer fire, beeyatches.

For the record, I think every week should be Teacher Appreciation Week. There is not a single more important job in the world than teaching children, especially MY children who are not getting a ton of academic enrichment at home between the SpongeBob marathons and the fake turd “Pootorials.” But I’m talking about real appreciation in the form of sincere thanks, praise, and parental support. Not shit like this:

"I'd really like a World's Best Teacher mug!" said no teacher ever. Folks, there is a reason I found that little gem on the shelf at my local Goodwill. Teachers do not want that kind of appreciation. Please think twice before you buy anything with an apple or school house theme.

No, at my kids’ school, Teacher Appreciation Week should just be renamed “Parental Torture Week.”

You see, the overachieving, cracked-out on their kids’ Ritalin Room Moms at my children’s school seem to take an obscene amount of pleasure in sending out email mandates with two days’ notice informing us of “the schedule” they’ve created for gift giving during the upcoming week. The idea is that all the children bring in a different themed little treat each day for their teacher to create lavish class bouquets and gift baskets from the group. You know, like making Stone Soup: if everyone contributes a little, you end up with a fabulous feast.

In theory, it’s a nice idea, isn’t it? And it probably protects our teachers from receiving 19 more “A+ Teacher” coffee mugs that they’ll have to make a special trip to the thrift store to purge.

But do the Room Moms coordinate this gift fest with other classrooms to make it easy for the maxi-breeders like me? Noooooo. No they do not. It’s every Room Mom for herself and thus every classroom seems to have it’s own list of gifts and unique schedule of when to send them.

So instead of cleaning up the piles of TP my children have created in every bathroom from their over-enthusiastic fake turd crafting this week…

…or the fake turds I keep finding and doing double takes over…

… I’m forced to create and regularly reference a spreadsheet to remind me what to buy/make/find and send to school each day with each kid. And by spreadsheet I mean coffee stained hand-written tablet paper:

Tomorrow’s a biggie, eh?

The point is: this is a lot to sustain for a whole week. On top of which, both of my bigger kids had Field Day this week (on two different days) which required before school sunscreen application, tennis shoes, special t-shirts, hats, and water bottles. Can’t forget that!

Oh, and did I mention the 800 count box of round toothpicks that I stupidly volunteered to send in for the fifth grade toothpick project on Tuesday? Shit… I thought signing up to spend $2 on a box of toothpicks was going to be a super easy way to participate. WRONG. It wasn’t. Four. Fucking. Stores. Turns out every mo-frankin’ fifth grade class in the school is simultaneously doing whatever they are doing with the 12,000 round toothpicks they each need, and I was the last mom to get to the store to buy them, of course.

But wait, there’s more…coincidentally, this is also the week that Bucket Head has decided he’s over pull ups and wants to sleep in his “big boy” Spiderman underpants every night. This means that Mommy is washing wet stanky sheets every morning and remaking the bed every afternoon. Weeeee! (Literally)

Clearly I’ve created most of my own excess work here, I do realize that. It’s how I roll. But back to the bigger issue at hand…

Teachers deserve to be appreciated. And teachers are often parents too! So imagine the poor teachers of multiple children who are trying to keep up with these Teacher Appreciation Week schedules! This is simply too much for any of us.

Look, I know teachers, and let me tell you what teachers really want (and this list is in no particular order):

  • a good bottle of wine
  • good quality coffee beans or tea
  • respect
  • gift cards from stores or restaurants they like
  • gratitude
  • hand written notes/cards
  • parents who care
  • recognition for a job well done

What else? Please add your suggestions in the comments below. Especially if you are a teacher. How we can best appreciate you and still maintain (or in my case, obtain) a smidgen of sanity?

You know what else? I don’t think teachers really want a whole week of this crazy making at the end of the year when there is so much else going on at the same time! I’m guessing they’d much rather have a little love on a regular basis to get them through those harder days. Send your teacher a hot biscuit wrapped in foil one random morning to say Hey, I know mornings can be rough sometimes and if you are like me, maybe you didn’t have time for a hot breakfast today, but you are important to me and my family and we care about you. (And please don’t yell at my child today… she gets enough of that at home.)

Now let’s end my little rant on a funny note, shall we? Please, please, please, you simply MUST see what Cake Wrecks has put together in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week. Not only are the pictures worth a thousand words, but the captions are fabulous. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

with gratitude to my children’s awesome teachers,

-Iris

© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

(Did you like this post? Then you’ll love my most popular school-related piece: “And that’s why speech pathologists are such bad mofos.”)

47 Comments

  1. You make me laugh! And I really needed a laugh today as I am exploding with PMS. Next year we start the whole school thing – my oldest two will go off to kindergarten. Then the next year my youngest daughter will go to kindergarten. I wonder if I will become a Ritolen Room Mom? And if I do, will I even be able to recognize it in myself? Hmmmm.

  2. Excuse my language but what a load of shit!! I have never heard of anything so crazy-arsed… you seriously have to co-ordinate gifts for teachers every day?? Nuts! Sorry for the outburst but this has touched a nerve, I just can’t stand such blatant consumerism. You don’t need to buy stuff to show someone you appreciate them. Except if it’s wine. Or good beer. Or bad beer. Can you tell I really fancy a beer right now?

    We love teachers, where would we be without them, but let’s save the gifts for birthdays and Christmas. I say this as the daughter of a teacher, and no-one had to re-gift more junk at Christmas than my much-loved mum. I have the ugly mugs to prove it. Scented candles too.

    • Teachers don’t want gifts. Just a sincere note is lovely. (I have to admit that flowers do brighten the room) I don’t want “gifts”. Lat year I got a great gift, a basket of kleenex, paper towels, hand soap and wipes for the desks! That kind of class gift is great but why wait until May. Germs spread all winter and I am paying out of pocket for those things. Gift certificates are great to help buy those supplies plus pencils and sharpies. I agree that “stuff” is not appreciated. Tell your kids to do their best, listen carefully, follow rules and directions and learn like crazy. I’d be over the moon for that.

  3. omgosh I am laughing so much over your list….especially tomorrow’s I just cannot read anymore. I am afraid I will choke with laughter and since I am home alone, better not chance it! I’ll wait until DH comes home to finish this post……hahahahahahaaa

    PS My parents were both teachers. My mother enjoying her part in bankrupting the state of California…..

  4. Danielle@sixtasteschef.com/blog

    May 5, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    That’s crazzzzy. I mean, I guess it’s good that they’re coordinating the gift-giving efforts, but EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK?

    Anyway, count yourself lucky; at least you only have to give ONE of your kidneys.

    • Stephanie B.

      May 1, 2013 at 3:44 pm

      Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my job. But, unless you have been a teacher, or worked in a school, you have no idea the things that we do to help you, your children, and their future. It’s sad that some people can’t do something nice for one week. Like the previous post, a note or a card is sufficient. You don’t have to go out and spend money, but to say that a week set aside for teachers is crazy, is crazy in itself.

      • Hi Stephanie – I don’t think anyone here is questioning the fact that teachers are awesome and deserve to be appreciated (daily, IMHO). It’s not that we don’t want to do something nice, it’s just the absurdity of the specific requests from multiple room moms that don’t seem to coordinate with each other that I was ranting about when I wrote this two years ago.

        My kids’ school did it very differently this past year and it was awesome. We sent in money one day and the room moms got a gift card for the teacher to her favorite store, and one other day we sent in one favorite thing. My son picked out a really nice bar of fancy handmade soap because “it was pretty like Mrs. V and smelled good like her too.” And the rest of the days, the PTA and the school coordinated nice breakfasts and lunches for the teachers. It seemed to work really well and I bet the teachers weren’t inundated with a bunch of “Worlds Best Teacher” mugs. 🙂

        Thank you for what you do! I tried to be a teacher a long time ago and wasn’t very good at it, so I have extra appreciation for what a difficult and critical job it is. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear enough in this post.

      • If you re-read their original post, they’re saying that it’s crazy that the school coordinates gifts each day for a week. Not that it is crazy that Teacher Appreciation IS a week.

  5. Bernie Bickers

    May 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    Iris, why do you always do everything the hard way? You’re kids clearly have a burgeoning faux-turd cottage industry going, and I know I would certainly have liked to present several of my teachers with such a symbol of appreciation. Couldn’t you combine the two. Get a glitter pen and write on the side “Yo’ Teach, you da’ Shit!”, or “To Ms. Beasley for putting up with my crap!”, or “Fractions are hard but this is soft”.
    Result?
    Kids: gainfully employed
    Mom: not out shopping for useless trinkets
    Teacher: given something she’ll remember a lot longer than a coffee mug or an Applebee’s gift card.

    Never a bigger win-win-win opportunity that I’ve ever seen.

    • I think Bernie is definitely on to something here – Let’s face it – glitter pens are pretty much next to useless unless applied to something that really needs glitterin’ up.

    • I almost spit out my drink reading this. “Yo’ Teach, you da’ Shit!” Hahahahahaha!

    • I love your brain. Thank you for that snippet of hilariosity. I needed it!

    • As a high school teacher, I know that we RARELY get gifts. The poor parents and kids have been burned out by all of the Room Mother on Ritalin or the PTOs who send lists like what is shown.

      I busted out laughing with the fake turd idea. I would use it. I would add laughter to our day when life got rough, and I would end up in the principal’s office because some kid or staff member would be offended that a teacher pulled a turd joke. 😉 What can I say, it is my karma.

      As a teacher what I would like is parents writing SHORT and SINCERE notes of appreciation to the local papers. Sending notes to the administration when you notice a teacher going above and beyond. Sending copies of them to us is nice too.

      We get a lot of emails, but usually it is “Why is my child’s grade NOT an A?” It gets difficult some days. As the implication is that it is not the child who struggled and maybe fell a bit short, but it is the teacher being too hard, expecting too much, not offering enough extra credit, etc.

      So, a thank you-that is sincere and in the moment. Is really the nicest gift of all.

      • Great comment, Sylvester! Thanks for the reminder to not just thank our teachers, but to go up the chain of command when we are happy and why. My oldest is in middle school, and he has so many teachers that it’s really hard to give actual gifts other than a small gift card now and then. But I would imagine middle and high school teachers could really use a shot of gratitude even more than a double espresso. So thank YOU Sylvester. What you do is so incredibly important. I raise my fake turd to you with the highest level of respect. (And if you ever get one of my kids, please know that if you tell any kind of bathroom jokes they will adore you forever.)

      • a middle school teacher

        May 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

        So true! I get e-mails weekly if not dailying complaining about an assignment or grade or something that went on in class along with tons of e-mails asking for the hw assignment or project which are all posted on my school website. What’s worse is the parents who go straight to the administration to complain without asking us teachers first.

        A simple nice complementary note or e-mail brightens up my week. This school year I have been blown away with parents contacting me when they hear I am ill (I was out 3 weeks with a contagious eye infection and now with a sinus infection) with well wishes. Others have brought me muffins and Starbucks or McDonalds mochas in the morning. Instead of one week appreciation, it is nice to feel appreciated ALL YEAR LONG!

        From the students, I would love to have more respect from them more than anything else in the world. (OK. I know I am dreaming).

  6. I used to send in First Day Survival Kits when my kids were in elementary school. I’d put in Tylenol, band-aids, chocolate, bubble bath, and when they were in pre-school I put in wine. It was a way to show the teacher I was on their side!

    For Teacher Appreciation Week I preferred to send in cash! Its truly one size fits all!!!

  7. Oh Iris, all I can say is thank goodness we don’t have Teacher Appreciation ‘Week’ in Australia. I’m totally exhausted after the marathon day I had yesterday just for Mother’s Day!

    We usually save the gift giving for our teachers for Christmas and I’ve found the best is vouchers especially coffee shops, stationery stores and book shops. I always get my daughter to make a handmade card and I usually write a note of heart felt thanks in the card as well. It usually brings them to tears. I also write a letter to the Principal thanking the teachers for their exceptional work. Mind you, we’ve only had 1 year of school so far but if that’s anything to go by, I’ll be worn out by the end of the next 14 damn years!

  8. On of my teacher friends always say “please, get me something with an apple on it” sarcastically at every gift-giving occasion. I love it!

  9. And one final (possibly alcohol induced) comment for Iris – definitely go with the puppy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving….

  10. We too have been having the parental torture week!!! I am married to a teacher so I truly do appreciate all they do and the measly amount that they are compensated for it. But do I seriously need to go to 6 different stores trying to find a Whatchamacallit candy bar because that is my fifth grader’s teachers favorite?!?!

    To top it all off, this is dance recital week and I have been helping with stage direction and dealing with evil dance moms! Also, have two in the middle of baseball season. But at least I don’t have to wash wet sheets every morning:)

    Thanks for giving me a giggle during the week from hell!

  11. OMG! I laughed out loud when I read this post! As a former teacher, I can tell you a myriad of Teacher Appreciation Gifts I could do without, and the ones I still remember. You hit it right on the head!

  12. 1. Bernie is definitely on to something.
    2. As a former teacher, I can say that if you send your kid to school fed, rested and with his homework done, we’re square. No gifts needed.

  13. I laughed so hard reading this post. My husband is a teacher, but he teaches high school, and at a not-so-good high school at that—so gifts are few and far between. But your list of “What Teachers Really Want” is spot-on! I know he’d rather have parents who care than anything else…but the occasional, much-appreciated gift card is great too.

    Or, you know, a fake turd. 😉

  14. second grade teacher

    May 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Iris, your list is right on the mark. Someone mentioned cash. I think I’d feel weird getting cash from a parent. Gift cards are nice though. How about just saying “thanks for everything” throughout the year?

    A whole week of gifts?! Are you effing kidding me? That seems ridiculous. NO teacher expects that. I really like when my kids make me things throughout the year. I have a lot of homemade beaded kid bracelets that I actually wear. I figure if they cared enough to make it, I should wear it. I had a student, now in 3rd grade, come up to me in the hall recently and say, “Hey! Is that the bracelet I made you in kindergarten?” She bopped down the hall with a HUGE smile. 🙂

    I would keep a fake turd with googly eyes on my desk forever! Your room moms need one with a dunce cap that reads “dumb shits!” BTW, I have imagined a whole line of fake turd greeting cards (just in case this teaching thing doesn’t work out.)

    Thanks for making me laugh so hard, I’ve had snot bubbles.

  15. As this year’s room mom, I wanted to vary from the traditional gift ideas. No trinkets. No mugs. My co-mom (an ex-teacher herself) and I decided to do something totally different. We all crave the acknowledgment of a job well done. The planning started with a question: what do teacher’s really want? My teacher friends gave me three simple answers. The first was to be recognized by parents for the hard work they do. Secondly, they wanted to actually be teaching, not spending hours prepping. Finally, they wanted to hear from students themselves. Here is a list of the ideas that we have come up with so far:
    1) Ask for parents to volunteer extra hours to lessen the teacher’s load during the week.
    2) Ask parents to write a classroom review on greatschools.com – we know that the district office monitors this site.
    3) We have a handful of core volunteers that are willing to write letters of appreciation to the principal. We will submit a complete packet.
    4) Have students write letters using a simple form and create “bucket of letter”.
    5) My co-mom will be reading a book during storytime about teacher appreciation while the teacher (hopefully) relaxes.
    6) Make a hallway banner that reflects our gratitude – still need some ideas.
    7) Will leave it up to individual parents if they want to purchase gifts but staying away from encouraging school supplies and gift cards – we did this for Christmas.

    Not saying that we will do all of these things but it’s a great place to start.

  16. 1-Wine (NOT Cheap Stuff)
    2-GOOD Chocolates (NOT Cheap Stuff)
    3-Gift Cards
    4-Cutesy Personalized Gifts (Pinterest)
    5- We LOVE Handmade Cards from our kids, but we know that your kids work for us, and it’s torture for you to get them to work for you!

  17. I am a teacher and I just love the list you came up it is perfect. The morning biscuit with the note brought tears to my eyes. We are just working moms and everything our students parents go through so do we. Appreciate your teachers everyday just by saying thanks!

  18. Speaking as a teacher myself, all we really like is a “thank you”. The best presents I have received is a handwritten note from parents thanking me for all the work I have done with their child. When I’m stressed out and tired, I read these notes and I remember why I do what I do. Teachers don’t expect extravagant gifts–or multiple ones. I think that’s a big extreme–but that is coming from parents, not teachers. At my son’s school, the PARENTS in the class expect that everyone will give the teachers more than one gift. It has become a contest to see who gives the “best” gift to the teacher, which is really silly.

  19. I’m a teacher, and since I teach high school, I don’t get a lot of gifts from my students for holidays and teacher appreciation week. I guess it’s one thing to give a gift to a teacher, but another thing entirely to give a gift to six or eight teachers for each child. With that said, the best gift I’ve ever received was when a parent wrote a letter to my principal explaining why he was happy his daughter was in my class. His daughter brought a copy of the letter for me to have and read, too. It didn’t cost him a thing except time and ink, but it meant the world to me. I still have it and pull it out to read sometimes when I’ve had a difficult day.

  20. As a teacher in a struggling school, I haven’t always received much. But I love the art work, a picked flower at recess, or just thanks. I have had some families give more, but it is nice to know they care and they understand. We do celebrate the full week, but as a school they send out a list of “suggested” gifts to give during the week- like a flower, handwritten note, secret admirer note to another teacher, an apple, and anything else you’d feel like. This way no one had to think of anything different and it was school wide. We don’t have room parents and just a few volunteers in the building. We also do not celebrate holidays since we are so diverse. So the little things are nice. I know I would giggle and keep fake poo for ever!

    We do get a breakfast and a lunch during the week from the PTA and Administration.

    Although I do remember one gift at the end of the year- was a family that works at a restaurant. They brought myself and co-teacher a little lunch from their restaurant. It was very yummy and thoughtful!

  21. The list of ideas you came up with are great. This is my 15th year teaching and by far my favorite teacher appreciation gift has been a car wash. Our PTA gets volunteers to wash the teacher’s cars in the school parking lot. Yes, they need a ton of volunteers but it is my favorite gift. I also enjoy the heartfelt notes from parents and students! The muffin idea also brought tears to my eyes!

  22. I’m a teacher and my room mom collected money and then got me Visa gift card. It was great. But what was even better was the sweet card she wrote me. She wrote me one from my whole class and then one from their family. Encouragement and appreciation in the form of cards and notes mean more than anything.

  23. This post was hilarious! I’m glad I stumbled onto it. I’m a high school teacher, and honestly my favorite thing to get is a heartfelt, hand-written note or card from a parent or student. No gifts, no money, just a thank-you. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the cheesecake I get to choose from the parent who runs a cheesecake company…

  24. As a teacher and parent, the Appreciation Week thing is pretty out of control. I received The List last week– I sent in $5 for the teacher’s gift fund and $5 for the collection the PTA is doing for the whole school (including support staff), and consider that done. We will write a letter to my kid’s teachers to say “thank you.” I refuse to make myself crazy over the daily edicts.

  25. Veteran teacher

    May 2, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I am a teacher and the PTO at our school is doing the same thing except all the “daily gifts” are tissues, hand sanitizer, pencils, glue sticks, clorox wipes, and copy paper. How are these “gifts” for ME when they are supplies that the schools and/or parents should be supplying anyway and are being used by the students??? As a teacher myself, I always try to give my daughters’ teachers something for THEM (as well as supplies for the classroom.) along with a sincere personal thank you note. PS Not all teachers like coffee or tea!

    • Oh – great points! You are right – some of my kids’ teachers only like Diet Coke. Now that I have a few more years of parenting under my belt (this was written three years ago) I try to find out what my kids’ teachers like before I buy anything. Sometimes the room moms do a good job of sharing this info with the class, which is really nice.

      I’m so sorry to hear that you are getting things like hand sanitizer and clorox wipes. I feel the same way when things like tissues and paper towels are part of our school supply lists in the fall. Shouldn’t the school district buy that stuff?! They could get a better deal buying in bulk than the individual parents can. For the taxes we pay – don’t get me started. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  26. I have been teaching for 20 years. When my kids were younger I sent in a donation and a baked good for the teacher appreciation luncheon. My children’s teachers also received a December holiday gift and an end of the year gift.
    My school has a breakfast of bagels from the pta. There are no other gifts, no gifts from individual children. Many of our parents do not have extra money. I would love if the children just wrote me a card telling me one thing they liked about class. There is a huge problem with respecting teachers. Many parents expect us to go above and beyond and never say thank you. We are truly are not appreciated or respected by children or parents.

  27. I really like receiving additions to my classroom library! I mean, I certainly wouldn’t mind a nice bottle of wine- but if parents want to get a stereotypical teacher gift, books or a bookstore gift card would be great! Mugs, pinterest crafts, and christmas tree ornaments? Not so much…

  28. I am in my 15th year as a educator. I’m wrapping up my second run in Kindergarten -this time a four-year run (which continues next year :). While cleaning out filing cabinets – at 7-10 pm for two days last week (for the first time in 15 years – I typically just box and move them as I go room to room cuz who in the world really has time for that?!) I stumbled upon a “smile file” I’d created: Many notes from kids….. Several random drawings that had made it into the file that was not circular ;)…..One very special note from a parent.

    Each year, I may get one note from a parent outside Teacher Appreciation Week thanking me for what I do. They are treasures. That year it was a mom thanking me for the extra help I gave her son and how much he seemed eager to begin his next year at school. This year it was simply a mom who said “Thank you for the very detailed information you sent home with his report card. That must have taken you a lot of time to put together.” I teared up – right there in the classroom. Yes, it did – several late nights in fact. That note made me smile for weeks.

    I would happily give up a whole week at the end of the year when I am so busy and tired and overwhelmed and trying to keep things still exciting and fresh for my students that I can’t stop to smell the roses you’ve sent in…to have just a few more of those notes from August-April. Thanks for this great post. I know there are others like me.

  29. As a former teacher, the best gift anyone could give me would be to keep your sick children home. No reason the entire class needs the stomach bug your child just brought to the building.

  30. Autumn Crosby

    May 4, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I’m a teacher of 15 years and a mom for the last 7. You nailed it…everything….nailed it 🙂

  31. Great article! As a teacher, what I could use the most of is more supplies…this is about the time of year that all my dry erase markers dry up, my pencils have all strangely walked off my desk, my students still cant seem to bring their own notebook paper and now the school is out of printer paper. I do feel appreciated, I am blessed to have students and parents that tell me from time to time. What I could use help on is keeping my class up and running so I can spend my money on my own kids and not on office supplies!

  32. Laura Orcutt

    May 5, 2014 at 3:02 am

    As a teacher, I love notes of appreciation, send a copy to my administrator, great.
    If you feel the need for a gift. Here’s a few cheap, but useful ones. A cold water bottle for the day. I drink tons of water and an extra cold water bottle is nice. I had a student bring me lunch, a prepackaged salad and a bowl of Campbell’s soup you can microwave. It was lovely. If your teacher drinks tea or coffee we can always use that. Lovely homemade cards and notes are so thoughtful. Yes I do like fresh flowers too. I leave them in class all week for us to enjoy!!

  33. first grade teacher

    May 5, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    My favorite gifts this year have been from a mom with a fabulous garden. In the fall I got a bag of grapes fresh off the vine and some apples right off the tree(with a funny note about that being “cliche”), and every once in a while I get a bottle or two of jelly. Totally practical and delicious. And, of course, a sincere note (from kid or parent) always makes my day.

    Our PTA coordinates the week so all the classes are on the same schedule. . . One day during the week, every kid is supposed to bring one flower to make a bouquet (which I love. . . the bouquet is as diverse and beautiful as my class!). One day they serve bagels before school, one day they stock the fridge with beverages, they provide lunch on Friday, and they cover recess duty for the week.

  34. As a teacher, I enjoy the week, but our school has days labeled for the whole school – one day the door is covered with a design by room mom, one day flowers the kids pick (never forget the year I caught my kids stealing roses across the street – for me…), one day a thank you note, and one day the parents do a pot luck. They also collect $ and buy one gift card for each of us. It is, in all, an excellent week. And really – the most treasured and remembered things have been the handwritten notes (and the massage gift certificate – that was a great one!)

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