Over the years, I have read many blog posts suggesting the perfect gifts for teachers. Being a teacher myself, I thought I would contribute to the conversation by sharing my best teacher gift of all time.
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A Gift Recently Received
This past week, I was blessed to receive a note from a new student that I recently started working with. I am leaving certain parts out to protect the identity of the student. The note reads, “Thear is a giar kold ______. She came from _______, she uaiet a home to live. And she went to _______ School. She neds som help in inglish an thear is a theacher cold Ms. liee. She olway help, she is so much nise so thas way I’m raiting this to Ms. Liee because she well help me.”
Translated, it reads “There is a girl called _______. She came from ______, she bought a home to live in and she went to _______ School. She needs some help in English and there is a teacher called Ms. Lee. She always helps. She is so nice so that’s why I’m writing this to Ms. Lee because she will help me.”
To some, this is simply a note. To me, this note made my day! It is one that I will now keep in my top drawer at work as another reminder to myself of the importance of connecting with the students I work with. It also reminds me of the importance of being there for the students in helping them to reach their goals.
There are defining moments in every career. One such moment in mine happened years ago now, but it is one I continue to hold near and dear to my heart. You see, as a teacher, there are some kids I know I have made an impact on. However, I am not aware of the personal impact I make in most of my students’ lives, or whether I make any sort of impact at all. With all of this stated, there have been a couple of students now in which I came to discover years later that I made a positive impact in their lives.
My Most Meaningful Student Gift Received
One individual I had taught for two years sent me an email back in 2009. An interesting factor here is that I hadn’t taught this specific individual since the 2005/2006 school year when she was in grade 10. Her email message reads,
“Hey… It’s _______. How have you been doing?… Sorry I haven’t written sooner. I didn’t have a working computer. Thank you for all of your help through my years at ______. I honestly don’t think I would have graduated if it weren’t for you pushing me in the right direction even though I tried to push it away and rebel it. I’m really sorry for giving all of you guys at the student center a hard time. I truly am thankful though that you kept pushing me and didn’t give up on me like some of my teachers seemed to do. 🙂
But I made it and now I’m working and have been working at the same job for almost a year and a half. So things are going really well for me. I’m not back in school yet. I’m still in the process of figuring that all out. But I’m leaning in the direction of child care work or business (like starting my own daycare or something) but I’m still not 100% sure. How are you and your family doing?… Again thank you for everything!”
Prior to receiving this email, I never would have guessed that I had made any special impact on her schooling or personal life. Yes, I strove to help when I could. At the time, the help offered often wasn’t well received to say the least.
Today, I consider her email message to be the best gift I have ever received! This previous student of mine took the time to let me know I was a positive factor in her life. This is the best teacher gift I could ever ask for!
Lessons Learned from Students
As a teacher, I believe it is important to strive to help every student I work with and to welcome each of them in the classroom each day. I don’t believe my goal is unique in any manner as I hope it is a common goal among all teachers.
We never know whether or not this simple ongoing goal will have a positive ripple effect or not. I personally aim to start each day fresh and to hold no grudges when it comes to the students. I think of Dr. Wayne Dyer’s famous quote when I need to remind myself of letting go of grudges and starting each day fresh:
“No one has ever died from a snake bite. They die from the venom which continues to pour through the system long after the bite took place. You can’t be ‘unbitten’ but you can choose not to have the venom flowing through you.”
What I Like to Believe
I like to believe that most teachers that go into teaching strive to have a positive influence in the lives of their students… a positive influence in their students’ learning, self-confidence and self-esteem.
Teaching is so much more than following curriculum guides! If one gets too involved in the political aspect of teaching, it will only serve to stroke the ego. Doing what’s right for children, though? That is what will nurture the heart!
So what is the best teacher gift of all?
Truly the best teacher gift of all is coming to discover the positive impact the teacher is making or has made in an individual’s life. Like most teachers, I have received many gifts from students over the years. However, none of the gifts have been as memorable or meaningful as coming to the realization that I am making or have made a positive impact on a student’s life. In my opinion, this is the best teacher gift that could ever be received!
Should everyone do this?
I’m definitely not saying everyone should write a note to their teacher(s). If this were the case, the notes would no longer be so meaningful. However, if it is relevant and it is coming from the heart, nothing will be more appreciated than this type of gift.
For me, even though I have many fond memories (and some not so fond) of most of my teachers, there is only one teacher that has impacted me so profoundly. Oddly enough, it was one of my university professors. She had this beautiful impact on my life and on the person I am today! She taught me how to value people for who they are. I guess we never can tell when that one special teacher or other person that so significantly helps to shape our lives will make an entrance!
No teacher no matter who they are will make a positive impact on each student they teach. However, it sure would be awesome if that one teacher that is making or has made a difference in you or your child’s life is made aware of it. This truly is the best teacher gift that could ever be received!
If you have a teacher in your life that you would like to express gratitude towards, but don’t know how to start that note, you may wish to say it instead with the beautiful book Because I Had a Teacher by Kobi Yamada.
How about you?
Is there a teacher or other school staff member in your child’s life making a positive impact? Have you had a teacher or special someone that made a profoundly positive impact in your life? If so, please share in the comments below.
Former teacher here. Couldn’t agree more!
Thanks for reading this post, Lisa! It feels so good learning of positive impacts made in the lives of others for sure. 🙂
I’m so happy to hear your students have reached out. A student came to my sister’s funeral to tell us how influential she had been in his life. It meant so much to my family. I hope my sister knew how much she helped him too.
Oh, I love this! There truly is no greater gift! I bet this is knowledge your family will cherish forever. Thank you for sharing.
I had a couple of teachers in my life that I wish I would have kept in touch, they definitely were amazing and helped me a lot. But the other two who shaped me to be who I am were my Grandma and her sister, they were also teachers and helped raised me. I will always be very grateful for them. I am sure you are a great teacher Sherry 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
Thank you, Liliana! Grandmas and other family members can often be the best teachers of all! It’s awesome they played such a positive role in your life. Thank you for sharing your story. 🙂
The teacher who made the most profound impact on my life is my mother. Mom grew up in poverty as one of eleven children. She knew early in life she wanted to be a teacher and, somehow, she’d make that happen. Early in life, she met my father-a poor guy with a dream of becoming an electrical engineer. They made each other’s dreams come true.
Mom strongly believed education was their way to a better life. She also believed that once you got a step ahead, you turned around and helped those who needed it. Nothing made her happier than hearing about successes from her former students.
One of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen occurred while Mom was recovering from knee replacement surgery. I stopped by to visit her at the rehab place and found she already had a visitor-a little girl whom she was tutoring. The little girl was in bed with Mom, and they were going over her homework.
Recently I inquired about the girl, who’s now a young woman. Mom replied proudly, “She’s at Harvard.”
Mom didn’t retire until she was in her 80s. She’s 90 now, still active but missing teaching terribly. I’m trying to encourage her to write about her 50 plus years in education. Sherry, I will forward your post to her, because I know she’ll both love and understand it.
What a beautiful story, Dana! Your mom sounds like someone I would love to meet. How awesome knowing even a tiny bit of the many lives she is sure to have made such a positive impact on! Thank you so much for sharing about your mom! 🙂
This is so amazing. Teachers really do make a huge impact on students’ lives more than they know.
Thank you, Jenny! I appreciate your feedback. 🙂
Your article just shows how simple and yet heartfelt thank yous can mean so much. It reminds me to say thank you to special people in my life.
Thank you so much for reading it, Leiloni! 🙂
As a teacher, I can definitely relate. It warms my heart when students or former students reach out to me to tell me that I made a difference or even just that they enjoyed my class. Recently I saw a former student who told me that she was re-reading all of our course texts just for fun (and mind you, she wasn’t one of the “top” students either). This definitely made me feel good!
I bet that made you feel good! Thank you so much for sharing, Kate! 🙂
Love this! I’ve been looking for a way to show my daughter’s teachers my appreciation for all they do. This post just made me change directions. Thank you!
Thank you so much, Sam! I’m sure your daughter’s teachers will love feeling appreciated in whichever way you choose to show your appreciation for them. 🙂
Knowing that you made an impact means so much more than any tangible gift could. You’re obviously a great teacher!
Thanks so much, Kerine!
When I started working as a teacher, I came to this realisation as well, and wrote a letter to the teacher that stood out. It was the year she was retiring and when she replied, telling me how much it meant, I was also in tears.
Never underestimate the power of a thank you.
Absolutely beautiful, Simone! The power of a heartfelt thank you runs deeper than any other gift can in many cases. So glad you let your former teacher know the positive role she had in your life!
If it wasn’t for Ms. Tsakiris in third grade, my life would’ve turned out totally different. She didn’t know that until I wrote her a couple years ago, decades after being in her class. Teachers are in SUCH a place of influence. You affect us ALL, even the ones – or maybe especially the ones – the never tell you at all. #ThanksTeacher
I bet your note to her was more appreciated than you could ever imagine! It is so kind of you to let her know of the positive influence she had in your life. Thank you for sharing! 🙂
A day off would be the best gift but this is great too!
Haha, days off are good as well! 😉
Isn’t that just the best when you get confirmation that the seeds you planted actually took root??? I was also a teacher, but I look forward to the day when my daughter (hopefully) realizes that I’ve always been an advocate for her, even when she wasn’t happy about my methods. I just gotta get through those pesky teenage years first! Haha
Haha, I know what those years are like! I am sure your daughter will realize and express appreciation for your advocacy at some point. 🙂
I was a personal home tutor back during my university years and early working years. I never thought it would impact them much, but I was so touched when a student I taught used to hate accounting, and somehow got the grip of accounting after that.. And a few years after, he was actually pursuing a degree in accounting!
That’s awesome! 🙂
I know for me as a person who lives for words of affirmation a note card is awesome. We give one to all of her previous teachers each year and a “gift” for the current.
I’m sure those note cards are very much appreciated! 🙂