Before I had three kids and started writing, I was a teacher. I taught high school English for a handful of years and I can tell you, as most teachers will, that teaching is a fulfilling/drive-you-crazy/rewarding/hard/wonderful/tiring/keep-you-up-at-night/make-you-smile/make-you-cry kind of job. Even if you've been in your child's classroom and seen the teacher in action, there is a ton of behind the scenes work, effort, time and money that most teachers give. 

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With Teacher Appreciation Day coming on May 6th, this is the perfect opportunity to say thanks. I asked a dozen teachers that I know - males and females from preschool to high school - for the ways they would best like to be appreciated. Here are thier top picks. (Note: No more apple-themed knick-knacks or coffee mugs, please!)

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9 Ways to Say Thank You on Teacher Appreciation Day

  1. Handmade card from the child. A cute picture and heartfelt message by your child always warms a teacher's heart.
  2. Sincere card from a parent. Skip the store-bought card and write a short note that tells the teacher how you or your child has benefited from the teacher. Every teacher I talked to had a file of these "pick-me-up" cards to reread on bad days. I even still have mine.
  3. Coffee gift card - Gift cards to coffee shops are appreciated IF you see your teacher chugging joe every morning. If not, think beyond the barista. Smoothies or local lunch places can be a great option too.
  4. "You Know Me" gifts - Whether your kid's teacher is into gardening or craft beers, books or sushi, a gift that shows you thought about that teacher's interests and likes will put a smile on his or her face.
  5. A group gift. Instead of two dozen $10-$20 gifts, combine forces with other parents in the classroom to thank the teacher with a gift certificate for a nice dinner out, spa day or shopping trip to a favorite store. Use sites like GiftCards.com or ShareAGift.com to help make coordinating and collecting money easier.
  6. Classroom supply. We're not talking glue sticks and chalk here, but buying a much-needed new CD player, microscope, or books for the classroom library can be another great way to show you care.
  7. Something edible- even better if it's saveable. Teachers can get inundated with cookies, cakes and candy which yum! but there are also waistlines and health and with 20-40 kids a class, you can only indulge in so many treats. If you're handy in the kitchen, consider a consumable that can last or be saved for later like homemade frozen cookie dough balls or cinnamon rolls that can be cooked up later, a yummy soup to defrost after a long day at work, a savory snack, or ahem, something a bit more adult.
  8. Wine. Speaking of adult beverages, when I was a teacher, I would have completely appreciated a nice note of thanks and a bottle of wine. It says, "I know your job can be tough. Relaxation on me!"
  9. Get creative (but not too creative) - Tamales, interesting pottery, a flat of fresh strawberries and free babysitting are just a few of the other creative gift ideas teachers told me they had received, but be wary about those you see on Pinterest. As one teacher told me, "The Pinterest-y teacher gifts are cute, but most teachers don't need a bouquet of unsharpened pencils and rulers." Focus more on being considerate than cute with your creativity.

Teachers - what are your favorite gifts to receive?

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