First year teacher gift?

MagdalenaLeeAugust 8, 2014

My son's girlfriend just got her first teaching job. She graduated three years ago, has been working 2-3 jobs at a time - all the while submitting resumes, interviewing and networking as much as possible. She's worked so hard to land this job and we couldn't be prouder.

She's a pretty practical person so I would like to get something along the lines of helping with organization. I really have no idea what teachers need in that regard.

She will be teaching freshman AP world history.


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Having been a teacher for over 30 years, the most treasured gift would have been my own copy machine. I was a high school teacher and was forever waiting at the copy machine to run off materials for my students.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:33PM
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As a former teacher, I can say that most people have no idea how much personal money teachers--especially new teachers spend. I remember earning $21K my first year of teaching and spending over $2K on supplies! That was 10% of my income!

I think a generous gift card to Walmart, Staples, Amazon, dollar stores, etc. would be very much appreciated! She probably has no idea what she really needs to buy at this point, so the gift card can be used all year. You are so thoughtful to be supporting her this way!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 4:54PM
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A gift card to a teacher store if they have one in your area.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:05PM
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This post was edited by deeinohio on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 18:49

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 5:41PM
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Well, it depends on the school. A lot of students' materials and learning activities, especially for AP classes, are now online or in electronic form on their laptops. Papers, including photo copies are pretty much a thing of the past.

thumb drive, laptop desk or laptop table, Kindle, or maybe something completely unrelated, e.g. massage coupon, manicure, restaurant certificate to beat the stress that she will undoubtedly experience.

IKEA laptop table

This post was edited by nosoccermom on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 18:33

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 6:28PM
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I like the massage coupon idea.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 6:54PM
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Honestly, I'd wait and let her see her classroom and start to get settled or give some pretty generic gift cards (Amazon, Target, Walmart, Office Max/Depot).

Most of the departments at our schools have Keurig coffee makers but the teachers supply the coffee. If she is a coffee or tea drinker who will use something like that, Coffee Icon has the largest selection I'v ever seen. I found them when looking for our favorite hot chocolate mix (Butternut) after the one store that carried it seasonally stopped selling it. I ordered K cups for my brother and for teacher gifts so I got free shipping. Seemed like a popular gift.

If she doesn't have them, there is a good chance she will need to buy AP test prep books or materials. Amazon or Barnes & Noble would probably be good gift card choices.

I always hear that teachers supply a lot of paper, notebooks, folders, pens, pencils and even spare t-shirts, socks and such to students. Tape, paper clips, staplers, scissors, sticky note pads, those sticky tabs for marking places, highlighters, dry erase markers and an eraser, a label maker (there is a Brother one that does laminated tape on sale somewhere this week for $19). Hand sanitizer and boxes of tissues. A basket full of those things -- many of them available on sale now, or gift cards to Target, Walmart, Office Max/Office Depot so she could get them would be good.

The other thing our teachers always seem to need is storage and organizational items. Those would be harder to pick out, but you could give her a storage tub with some things in it, a set or drawers for storing school supplies in -- or the gift card to let her get what she figures out will work best.

Finally, if she doesn't have something already, a nice tote or brief bag for taking home papers to grade and a reusable bag for taking her lunch -- lots of thermal and storage options and combinations available.

Hope that helps. Congrats and best of luck to her on her first teaching job. And kudos for sticking it out. She obviously wants to teach and that's the kind of teachers we need more of. .

This post was edited by lascatx on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 19:56

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 7:54PM
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What grade is she teaching? If it's the lower grades, you could get a home laminator or a label maker. I've taught K for a few years and am moving to first grade and I'd be thrilled to get either of those.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 8:51PM
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Well, I think practical will win out and I should just get an Amazon gift card. We are having a dinner for her and I would like to present something so maybe I'll get her a small personal item as well - not related to teaching.

Thanks everyone!

BTW, sorry - I meant to post this on the conversation side!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:09PM
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AP courses are upperclassmen in high school. AP World history is generally sophomores here.

If you want more than a gift card inside and envelope, get a small git bag and fill it with some of the small school supplies and tuck in a gift card. You can fill a bag for just a few bucks with all the sales going on.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 10:29PM
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Congrats to your son's girlfriend. My daughter is also a high school history teacher. She teaches AP world and US history and AP psychology. She spends her own money throughout the year for items that are not in the school budget.
An Amazon (or Staples) gift card and a personal gift (think spa!) will be perfect. Good luck to her. I hope she enjoys her job as much as my DD does.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:38AM
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My dd is 32 and is now a principal. She joined Teach for America fresh out of college. Within a few weeks we knew that the one thing she needed more than anything was her own copy machine.

She was thrilled.

Maureen hit the nail on the head.

What an exciting time. Congratulations.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 11:44AM
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My preschool student's mom gave me a gift bag with "Relax" wine and "Sleep" lavender lotion lol! It was great!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:54PM
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Slight tangent: she has tried for *three* *years* to get a HS history teaching job??!!

Oh dear, this has me very worried. My own daughter graduated in May with a history major and secondary teaching certification and her dream is to teach exactly that. She has been shocked and dismayed that although she has been diligently applying all over, even hand carrying personalized application packets directly to schools and has at least had several interviews, she hasn't gotten a job.

School starts here a week from Monday and she is feeling devastated...I'm puzzled that the field seems so incredibly difficulty to enter. I didn't dream she wouldn't be hired somewhere by this point. She says once school starts, and she doesn't get a permanent position (which seems likely), she will try to substitute but at this point we're worried nobody will even deign to give her that chance. And she graduated cum laude from a well regarded university!

Is it really that tough to get hired as a teacher? Seems all one hears is that the pay is bad, teachers are overworked, disrespected etc, leaving the profession in why is it impossible to get a job? Semi-facetious, but only semi. Any experience or thoughts welcome.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 8:07PM
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In many cases the lack of openings is due to budget cuts. Often when a teacher retires or leaves the system, the teaching load is distributed to those remaining in the department. The recession hit towns hard, and school budgets suffered terribly.

My daughter teaches in an affluent town, which was slightly affected by the recession, but not as much as others. She double majored in English and History in college and then got her masters in ed with an emphasis on teaching history. She has always taken student teachers from her alma mater, for which she receives a stipend for college courses. Those are the people who tend to get hired when there is an opening in her department. Did your daughter student teach? If so have her network with those who mentored her.

Re: the pay. There are several ways to boost ones pay as a teacher. My DD has chosen to use her summers to take advantage of courses all over the country. As a result, she has the equivalent of two masters degrees, plus. This allows for a "lane change" in terms of pay. She will never be wealthy but she has a very comfortable lifestyle and loves her job.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:01AM
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I would buy her a visa gift card to use how she wishes. She could use it for a massage, to go out to a nice dinner on a weekend, or for supplies. I did this for my friends with their first baby. I figured they got enough baby toys and clothes so this gave them the option of a nice dinner out for just the two of them or more baby stuff if they wanted.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:15AM
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Around here it is important to stay at Bachelors level until you secure your teachers job.

Additional classes put you in a higher pay scale which will make you less likely to get hired, if there are lots of applicants.

Sad but true.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Son's GF graduated with honors and had a full year of student teaching. All the jobs she had while looking for a teaching job were all related: tutoring, after school programs and activity coordinator for the Boy Scouts . . .

We are in Texas and due to state budget cuts and teachers unable to retire due to financial reasons, hiring has slowed significantly.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:15PM
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@runninginplace --

Job availability, particularly at the secondary level, is greatly affected by ones subject area. English, History and PE -- no matter how good your undergrad degree, the demand usually isn't as high as Math and Science. If people want to teach in easier districts (middle class suburbia not poverty stricken or high levels of English learners) - the competition is higher. And, there is the issue of timing -- districts with low turnover are tougher to gain entry.

I've moved states several times. I've had no issues finding work -- but I teach Chemistry and Physics (and Math if needed). I've taught in large, small, and mid-sized schools in urban, suburban and rural settings. I'm now in a small rural school -- and fortunate that the timing was right. In a small school (fewer jobs available), I was looking just as someone was retiring. There won't be another opening in my department for at least ten years.

The other unmentioned criteria -- sports. If a principal can hire a coach with a teaching license, they may often hire the weaker teaching candidate because they can coach a sport.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 2:39PM
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redlover, In MA a masters is required to teach at any level. One can gain entry without it but must obtain it within 5 years. In MA students can't graduate from HS without a passing score on the state MCAS test, which has increased demend for teachers in liberal arts.

Magdalenalee, you touched upon another important point: teachers not retiring as early as they might have under different economic times.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 3:54PM
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A nice inexpensive gift would be a set or two of those pockets that hang on the wall. They might have 5 or 6 pockets vertically that are just the right size for standard papers and have little places for labels on the front. These are great to store field trip forms, hand outs home work instructions, or other things the kids might need to replace.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 4:17PM
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