Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

Today, I offer a timely and oh-so-important tip.  This tip was requested a month or so ago when I put out an APB for ideas, and I thought it was a great one.

Gift ideas for teachers...

Now, please believe me when I tell you that my recent return to the classroom has nothing to do with this topic.  Actually, my husband - the other teacher - has fueled this conversation for years.  And every year, we laugh about the gifts that teachers get.

Being a teacher, being married to a teacher, and hanging out with teachers, I've gathered quite a few opinions on what makes a good teacher gift.  And, truthfully, every teacher is different, but there are a few tips that may help.  You may want to consider these as you do your holiday shopping :)

- Just because a teacher has a particular hobby or interest (ie, a sports team, a particular animal) does not mean that they want every object imaginable within that particular theme.  For real.  The worst bit of trivia that ever got into the hands of Chuck's students is the fact that he likes the Steelers.  Along with the hateful banter, he has received every Steelers Christmas ornament that has ever been made.  Seriously.  I finally told him to stop bringing them home - which is why he has a Christmas tree in his classroom that is totally decorated with Steelers ornaments.

- Full time teachers have more than just one classroom full of students.  Even on the elementary level, the students often switch teachers for their various subjects.  So, each teacher could possibly receive gifts from 60 - 100 students.  Yes, this ends up being a fun and incredibly generous out-pouring from students... but it can also be a lot.  Keep your gifts simple!

- Food gifts are nice because they are consumable.  But you don't need to send a large tin of said food item, because, as I mentioned, it can add up to a lot of food.  Small samples are nice, though.

- A framed picture of your child may seem very sweet and sentimental.  But remember - your child is one of many, and each teacher gets a new crop of students every year.  There is only so much shelf space.

- Teacher knick-knacks are fun and oh-so-easy to use as gifts.  They are especially good gifts for first year teachers.  However, those who have been teaching for a while already have a lot of that stuff - just take a look around their classroom!

- Find out what your teacher uses and help replenish their supply.  Does she use felt-tip markers for grading?  Does he use motivational stickers or stamps on papers?  Is she a post-it junkie?  These are great gift ideas that will most definitely be used and will save the teacher money.

- Don't give scented gifts unless you know that it is a scent the teacher likes!  Apple cinnamon candles are an incredibly popular gift for teachers, but I had one on my desk while I was pregnant with Patrick, and - to this day can not stand to be anywhere near one.  Besides, you need to know if your teacher has allergies or gets headaches from strong smells.  By the way, most schools do not allow teachers to burn candles.

- My sister, who is also a teacher, has shared stories of parents who admittedly could not afford a gift but sent her a nice card instead, sharing how much they valued her as their child's teacher.  She says that those cards are worth more than the token gifts that the parents would have given.

- If you really want to purchase a gift that is specific to your teacher, find out what they need / want.  Room moms often collect money for one large class gift and even ask the teacher at the beginning of the year if there is something significant that she is saving for (for the classroom or for herself).

- Consider giving your gift before the class party.  Students' gifts to teachers are always fun and very generous, but it's hard to appreciate them individually when they come all at once.  Chuck has often said he doesn't have time to open them, so he does it at home, but he loves it when the kids bring in gifts the week or two before Christmas.  It helps him to make more of a connection between the child and the gift, and it also spreads out the fun of the holidays just a bit more.

- When in doubt, give a gift card!  I know that people often don't like gift cards because they are impersonal (and because they make it very clear how much you spent...) - but a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card is sometimes a better gift than the "teacher mug" that cost you $10.  Not to mention, those $5 gift cards can really add up... :)

- That being said, don't be too specific with your gift card unless you know the teacher's tastes (a DD card won't work for a non-coffee drinker).  Target, bookstore, and teacher supply store gift cards are always a hit!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

from here on, i'm thinking "tuesday's tips" may be in name only.  for the record.

this seems to me like a tip that may not need to be shared, but someone once enlightened me with its use, so i am guessing that someone out there may benefit from it.

i hate to find this when i'm cleaning up after a meal.

it happens to all of us - no matter how nonstick a pan is (or was) it just happens.  but, rather than soaking and scrubbing and soaking again, there is an easier way!

add water.  that's it.  just add a little water to your messy pan.
then turn the heat back on.  way on.

as the water  heats up (and starts simmering), use your appropriate utensil to stir up the gunk that has adhered to your pan.  i always use nylon or wood/bamboo to preserve mine...

once all the stuff has been dislodged (it should only take a few seconds), pour the water from your pan, and find this...

you just saved yourself (or your husband or designated child) quite a bit of elbow grease :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

in a nutshell...

i've been meaning to do an update post for awhile... but was too busy living life to actually write about it.  here goes nothing...

this fall has been much more hectic for our household.  we added soccer to our schedule - something new for patrick and chloe.  it has been a lot of fun, but having practice two nights a week plus a mid week church service really filled up our evenings.  saturday morning games have been great, though, and i am very grateful to the family members who have filled in for me or chuck when we weren't available to get somebody somewhere.

on top of soccer, chuck and i attended 3 weddings in a one month span - the third being my youngest sister's.  plotting out babysitting and scheduling to make it all happen was interesting but we made it through, and had a great time at each one.

in addition to back-to-school, soccer season, weddings, and church life, chuck is also in the process of completing his masters.  this semester he is completing 2 grad courses and a practicum.  he will be so glad when it's all over - he is so busy, and consequently, so am i.  we're trying to focus on the end result - no more grad work and a completed masters in educational administration.  yay!

last weekend, on top of halloween / fall party activities, we celebrated chloe's 8th birthday.  she had 17 girls over friday evening for a party (fun - LOUD - but fun...).  in the midst of that 4-party weekend, my cousin called me with a job opportunity at the local Christian school where she works.  although i wasn't looking for a job, i have been thinking about what i'm "going to do" next year when all 4 of my kids are in school.  this particular job completely fit my availability and need for where i am right now - part time (3 afternoons a week) in a Christian school (meaning my current educational status is sufficient) located 7 minutes from my house (so i am still accessible to my children should they need me).  and, although, tucker is still home, several friends and family members have been incredibly gracious to "hang out" with him in the afternoons that i work.

so, that's it.  i signed my contract yesterday and i start teaching this afternoon.  here we go...