The other day I was lined up at Target. (BTW, does anyone else find the new queing system irritating, I know it’s a fair way to organise things, but it seems I wait longer now…) The two women standing behind me started a conversation discussing the merits of giving their child’s teacher a gift. The two of them were favouring a no gift policy.
The ladies spoke loudly that they felt it was ridiculous how many people bought teacher’s presents these days. Why should teachers get gifts for doing their job? They get paid to work after all. Why should they need anything when they collect a pay check each week? One of the women went on to comment, “No one gives me gifts for doing my job well.”
Now, I don’t think for a moment that teacher’s are automatically entitled to gifts. As a teacher, I don’t not think less of the parents or children who have not given me gifts. Alternatively, I don’t favour the students who do give me gifts.
What the gifts do is make me feel appreciated. It is a form of acknowledgement to me that, “Yes, you are doing a good job.” It makes me feel that all the extra hours work I have put in preparing lessons, resources and activities has not gone unnoticed. It gives me encouragement that I am making an impact on that child’s life and provides inspiration to keep doing my job as well as I possibly can.
To the ladies in the que, I simply turned around and said, “As a teacher, I really do appreciate a gift I am given.” At which one of the ladies looked amazed, (and slightly embarrassed) and gasped, “Really?” She was so completely incredulous it astounded me. I wish I had said, (you know how you always think of good things to say after the event…), “Well if your boss or a client gave you a gift as a token of your great work, wouldn’t you appreciate it and wouldn’t you feel appreciated?”