Is it important to thank your least favorite teacher? You bet!
As members of society, a part being a “good person” is showing gratitude to those who help us or add meaning to our lives. We ask our children to send thank-you notes to great aunts who send them birthday presents to teach them this value. We tip the grocery delivery truck driver. We acknowledge our partner for cooking dinner. These displays of gratitude are all important for development of our character and making others feel appreciated for all they do for us.
During the Thanksgiving and holiday season, we also tend to get in the spirit of gratitude and giving thanks. We become more cognizant and grateful for what we have (e.g., family, friends, our health) and give thanks to those who provide valuable services to us and our children and those special people in our lives.
Many parents give gifts during the holiday season to teachers as a token of appreciation for what these important professionals do for our children—help them learn and grow and all the extras they do to take care of them on a regular basis.
So this begs the questions: What if there are teachers with whom we are not so happy? Those who have actually made our lives difficult this school year and contribute to the pain our children experience at school? Do we give to them too?
Yes, yes, and more yes!
It is important to thank even those educators who have put up roadblocks in our IEP meetings, who don’t always provide our child needed support, whose actions, or lack thereof, sometimes cause our child anxiety and depleted self-esteem.
Barring abuse, I think this is important.
We want to build good will with our child’s educational team. They are human. They have demands placed upon them and professional and personal struggles that we cannot see. They are in a position of power and influence over our child’s life and we want to inch them over to our side. To open up a little more, to think about our child in a different way, provide a little extra support.
This building of goodwill is critical to working together as a team to support your child in school.
So, I recommend going the extra mile and think of gifts that show gratitude to those who are working with your child. Do it at Thanksgiving; do it before winter break; do it throughout the school year at unexpected times. Write handwritten notes. Buy or make personalized gifts. For example, your child’s music teacher may enjoy fuzzy socks with musical notes on them. We know that most teachers appreciate gift cards as they often spend their own money on their students and many feel underpaid, so if you go that route, include a thoughtful note with it. Sign up to volunteer for the book fair when the media specialist asks for help (and offer to help in the school when you see an area of need). Sell the most citrus boxes for that band fundraiser to repair instruments! These gestures of gratitude may go a long way in bridging the gap with frayed relationships as well building upon the positive relationships you already have with the educators in your child’s life.