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First Class Gifts for a Teaching Graduate

written by: James Preston (Mr. P)•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/8/2011

Want the perfect gift for the graduate who is entering the teaching profession? This article will give you a couple of gift-giving rules along with some ideas such as the key ingredients for a "New Teacher Survival Kit" and some gifts that will help this new teacher rest, relax, read, and reflect.

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    Great Gifts for Teacher Graduates

    The student who has graduated from college and is going into teaching has spent the last 5 years of their life in school preparing to enter one of the most challenging and rewarding professions on this planet, so what better way to congratulate them than with the perfect gift that will help them in their first year in the classroom. Before I give you some “can’t miss" gifts for graduating from college teaching, remember one cardinal rule for gift-giving for the first-year teacher: Don’t give cash! Some people argue that teachers aren’t paid enough, so cash may seem like a good option for the future teacher. The problem with this is that in the first couple years of teaching most of the spare cash the new teacher has seems to find its way back into the classroom to pay for extra supplies, materials, and things that their students may need. If you want to give some kind of monetary gift, do it in the form of a gift card for something they will enjoy. Now that you know the key rule of what not to give, consider these options for what to give the teacher graduate:

    The New Teacher Survival Kit

    Research studies show that the typical new teacher experiences 5 phases in their first year: Anticipation, survival, disillusionment, rejuvenation, and reflection. The key for this rollercoaster ride of a rookie year is survival, so why not supply the new teacher with a survival kit to help them on their journey. Here are some key ingredients for the survival kit, but feel free to add in any other items that you know this new teacher will enjoy:

    • Coffee Kit- If this graduate isn’t a coffee drinker yet, they will become one really fast. I used to hate coffee in college, but within 2 weeks of starting my first teaching gig I became good friends with a morning cup of black coffee to give me a kick start after late nights of lesson planning and grading papers. Be sure to include a variety of coffee-related items such as coffee beans, grinder, coffee travel mug (so you can drink and drive safely), and maybe a pack or two of Starbucks Via for a mid-day fix if needed.
    • Candy Supply- all teachers need a pick-me-up throughout the day, so provide your teacher graduate with a supply of their favorite sweet treat, sour power, or good old-fashioned chocolate.
    • Year’s Supply of Airborne- the inventors of this vitamin mix claims it was “created by a teacher". Whether this is true or not, it sure can help the new teacher as they come across a whole new world of germs, viruses, and bacteria that they haven’t been exposed to before. Combined with a hectic schedule and the stress of the first year, an extra dose of vitamins is just what the doctor ordered.
    • The Cleanliness Connection- the experts constantly remind us that the best way to avoid getting sick is to frequently wash our hands; however, not all teachers have a sink in their room and don’t have the luxury of walking out on a group of students to visit the bathroom whenever they feel like it. Consider buying them a healthy supply of hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and Kleenex.
    • A Bottle of Advil- no explanation needed!

    R and R (and R and R)

    Rest and relaxation are key for the success of first year teachers, but so are a couple of other R’s …. reading and reflection. So consider these possibilities for your teacher graduate:

    • Rest- try a gift card to a good restaurant, so that they can save time and money when they get home from work and don’t have to make dinner.
    • Relaxation- everyone relaxes different ways, so if you know your teacher graduate well, find something that helps them relax. Maybe some music (ITunes cards or CDs), or if your teacher graduate relaxes by going shopping, try a gift card for their favorite clothing store.
    • Reading- there are some great books out there for teachers to help them prepare, philosophize, to give them great ideas, and to make them laugh. You can’t go wrong with any of these books: First Days of School by Harry Wong (features tips and techniques to help you through the first year), The Excellent 11 by Ron Clark (an engaging book about qualities that teachers need to succeed), The Passionate Teacher by Robert Fried (teaches you how to create dynamic teaching units and keep the passion for learning in your classroom), and Not Burned Out, But Crispy Around the Edges by Sharon Draper (a fun read that includes some short stories about students that will make you laugh, make you cry, and inspire you).
    • Reflection- great teachers find time to reflect on their craft, so why not buy your teacher graduate a leather-bound journal so they can have a place to write about their successes, challenges, and ideas as they travel the rollercoaster of the first year.

    Now that you have some great ideas for gifts for graduating from college teaching for the new teacher don’t forget the most important gift-giving rule, make it personal. Take time to think about who they are, what they enjoy, and try to find something that fits them as they embark on this exciting new journey.