As we approach the end of the school year, many families are thinking about what might be an appropriate gift to thank teachers.
Meanwhile, teachers are preparing for an inundation of scented candles, boxes of chocolates and pot plants as they head into a well-deserved summer break.
As a former high school teacher, I remember receiving plenty of these gifts. Most would sit in a drawer, or be quickly eaten and forgotten about. The pot plants often wilted.
If you are a cash-strapped parent or carer and wish to genuinely express thanks, how best can you do this, particularly in a cost-of-living crisis?
It may seem simple, but take a few minutes out of your day and write something meaningful to thank your child’s teachers.
Also, encourage your child to write or draw something that tells their teacher what difference they have made in their year. Ask them what made their teacher special, funny, caring or kind?
It could be something like, because of their support your child no longer struggles with maths, or now loves to read every day. Perhaps they have more confidence speaking in front of others or just lovegoing to school each day.
Teachers want to know if they helped
Teachers want to help young people and make a difference in their lives but this can be difficult to measure. Reports and test scores only reveal so much, they can show how someone has improved academically but this is only one part of positive changes teachers make.
As a new graduate, I fondly remember getting a handwritten letter from a Year 9 student on the last day of term four. He was a difficult student. We were often locked in battle - he would call me out if I spelled a word wrong on the board or gave an incorrect fact about history.
Yet, at the end of the year, he took the time to tell me what a great teacher I was and how he would miss me. Other teachers I spoke to have loved receiving personalised gifts, like hand-drawn pictures with quotes they would often say in class, delicious homemade cookies, letters of thanks, framed photos and messages that made them laugh.
Refill a teacher’s cup
We know teachers are under a huge amount of pressure and at the end of the year, they need their cups to be refilled.
Research tells us teachers can feel undervalued and their work can be highly stressful. We also know increasing numbers are not sure if they want to remain in the profession.
As a community, we can tell teachers we care for them and understand their work can be hard. Tell teachers they matter, they are doing important work, and they have inspired your child to love learning and will be remembered.
Saul Karnovsky is a Senior Lecturer and bachelor of Education (Secondary) Course Coordinator at Curtin University.