Best Teacher Gifts Under $25

Teacher gifts can be challenging. Whether your child’s teacher’s birthday is coming up, or you’re a teacher participating in Secret Santa, it’s always tough to know what others will like. If you’re looking to get a little more creative than the traditional Starbucks gift card (and support small business), then here are some of the best teacher gifts for you!

Book Lovers’ Soy Candles from Frostbeard

Do you know what most teachers love? Books and candles. When you find something that combines the two, it is truly exciting! Frostbeard is a candle shop based in Minneapolis, Minnesota that focuses on candles for book lovers. You can choose from scents like Bookstore, Old Books, Oxford Library, and Headmaster’s Office, just to name a few! They also offer several sizes, so you can go big or tiny based on your teacher gift needs 🙂

Laptop Stickers from Coffeein5th & NewHampshireBelle

Laptop stickers are perfect teacher gifts! Teachers love motivational quotes and cute illustrations. It’s part of the job. Laptop stickers are the perfect way to gift a teacher with a pretty little dose of positivity each time he or she opens up a laptop to take attendance. And speaking of that, NewHampshireBelle has the perfect sticker reminding them to do that, too… admin will thank you 😉

( Get better at taking attendance here —> Tips for Forming Good Habits )

iPhone Charger Decal from FourPandas

This shop out of Jacksonville, Florida offers all kinds of monogrammed teacher gift ideas! Teachers (and I can only speak for the Southern ones) LOVE monogrammed gifts! I love monogrammed gifts because they show that you put some thought into it ahead of time. Plus, teachers (along with everyone else) can never have enough chargers!

Personalized Notebook from OldWaysFuss&Feathers

I feel comfortable telling you that, no matter the teacher you’re thinking about, he or she is a list-maker. Teachers just can’t help it. There are a million and one things to remember: Notes to take in meetings, things to copy, children to send to the office early next Tuesday at 11:10. #teacherlife is impossible without lists and notes, which is why notebooks are one of the best teacher gifts! These sweet notebooks out of North Vernon, Indiana just add an extra little bright spot to list-making! 

Read: Weekly Lesson-Planning Process

Teacher T-Shirts from uniquebelletique

“Wait a minute…” you may be thinking. “Teachers wear t-shirts about teaching?” Yes. Yes, we do. On a dress down day, a teacher shirt, jeans, and cute tennis shoes are the most Instagrammable teacher outfit you can imagine! Teacher t-shirts make great teacher gifts! Luckily, Etsy is FULL of cute shops with tons of options, like uniquebelletique out of Midlothian, Texas, and whimsyandwhiteboards out of Salem, Oregon. 

Bonus

No teacher gift is complete without a meaningful card. In fact, you could really get away with this being your ONLY gift. And I’m not talking about a card that says, “Thanks for being the best teacher ever,” but a truly meaningful card. One where you list the things he or she does from day-to-day that you appreciate. It could be how your child’s teacher has worked really hard with him/her on handwriting over the past few months, or how your coworker across the hall always offers to make your copies.

Teachers like kindness and inspirational words, right? (see above) I still have cards hanging over my desk at home that are 3-4 years old. Those kids are almost in middle school now! But the kind words that those parents took the time to write me have been some of the most lasting gifts I’ve ever received.

You might also like: School Supply Shopping List

What gift ideas would you like to add to this list?! Please share them in the comments section 🙂

13 Surprising Statistics About Teaching

Hi Kirsten! I am a freshman in college and am an elementary education major. I am trying to decide which grade I want to teach, and I want to learn more about the whole process! 


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What a great question and super exciting time of life!

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to teach Kindergarten. I had the advantage of working at a tutoring center during high school and getting to interact with elementary students of all grade levels. The Kindergarteners were always my favorite! They were sweet, funny, and happy to be there. I just always knew that, if I became a teacher, that would be my grade.

But it’s not always that easy for teachers. Many teachers take a job teaching a grade they don’t necessarily want to teach, just to get their foot in the door with a school. Lots of teachers soon find out that they love that grade more than the one they thought they wanted to teach! And many other teachers shuffle around to different grades throughout their careers. You just never know how it will work out 🙂

If you’re someone who is interested in becoming a teacher, here are some “real talk” statistics that your professors may not mention.

1 | Teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money on classroom supplies

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This is so true. When I worked in public school, we were given a stipend of $100 for our classrooms. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Some of the teachers at our school literally spent thousands of dollars over the course of the year. Why? You love your kids. You want them to have an inviting classroom to learn in, adequate supplies, and engaging learning activities. For most teachers, this money is spent with an attitude of love, not resentment. The good news? Almost anything you buy for school is tax deductible, so create a system to help you SAVE THOSE RECEIPTS!

2 | Teachers work an average of 50 hours per week

Source: National Education Association

Teacher hours are usually coveted by people in the “regular” workforce. The breaks, holidays, and early dismissal. I’ve got to admit, especially now that I’m a mom, those breaks are invaluable! The lines between working and not working are usually pretty blurred for teachers. Even when you’re not in the building, you’re emailing parents, looking up ideas, prepping materials, lesson planning, etc. The great thing about this job is that it is SO personal and SO creative. Because no two teachers are the same, it is easy to feel passionate about what you’re doing! For that reason, work doesn’t always feel like work. It’s always new and exciting and different!

3 | About 30% of teachers have a second job

Source: Brookings

It’s no secret that the pay for teachers is not great. Public school systems typically pay more than independent schools, so if money is a priority for you, you probably want to go public. Not all teachers who have second jobs do it just for the money, though. You have to take into account that selling on Teachers Pay Teachers or Etsy would be considered a “second job,” too. Also, keep in mind that teachers sometimes get bored over summer or on breaks. It’s nice to have a side hustle or something productive to do with your time! Personally, I tutor outside of school hours and host a couple of summer camps. The flexibility teaching provides is great!

4 | More than 91% of teachers report purchasing basic necessities for students

Source: Huffington Post

Depending on where you teach, your students may need financial assistance from time to time. This is 100% NOT expected or obligatory. As you get to know your kids and their families, you may want to step in and cover a field trip admission or buy food for a student to take home over the weekend. Your students become YOUR kids and you never want to see them left out or in need. It’s always a case-by-case basis when you decide to help out a student in need. This sounds so cheesy, but your heart will guide you if you run into this kind of situation.

5 | 88% of people say a teacher had a positive impact on their lives

Source: ING Foundation Survey

Most people you know could easily tell you the name of their favorite teacher growing up. I can’t even tell you how many “I love yous” and “You’re the bests” I hear from my students throughout the day. Your kids will LOVE you and look up to you. They will draw you pictures and value your opinion and pretend to be you on the playground ( well, maybe not the teenagers 😉 ). You’ll talk about your students to anyone who will listen. Your spouse/roommate/mom will know your students by name, even if they’ve never met them! When you send your kids off to the next grade, you’ll tell the new teacher “You better take care of ___, he/she’s my baby!”

6 | Teachers work an average of 400+ hours of overtime each year

Source: EdTech

Every teacher has their own individual work style when it comes to this. Personally, I like to show up 45 minutes early each morning. That gives me time to set up my room, think about the flow of the day, prep, lesson plan, email, and just do anything that needs to be done. At the end of the day, I usually try not to stay any longer than 30 minutes. There’s always more to do, but I set a timer and leave when it goes off. In addition to the school day, there are sometimes nighttime events, like open houses, parent-teacher conferences, and other special events. Weeks with these events can be exhausting, but they can also be fun because they bring you and your team a lot closer!

7 | 75% of first-year teachers say they were well-prepared for their instructional duties

Source: National Institute of Educational Statistics

The Professional Developments can be SO overwhelming your first year! Your district will have you attending so many different seminars, workshops, lectures, orientations, in-services, and classes that you won’t know what to do with yourself. And EVERYTHING has an acronym. I once attended an entire seminar on some new initiative called CLIP, and when I left, I still didn’t even know what CLIP stood for! The good news is, the things that you learned will start to make sense once you have an opportunity to apply them. The bad news is, you will feel like you are drowning in PDs your first year. Just stick with it… it will get better!

The average student-teacher ratio in America is 16:1

8 | The average student-teacher ratio is 16:1

Public School Review

This is actually a great ratio! Where I live, in Tennessee, the maximum class size for Kindergarten is supposed to be 25. However, my roster hovered around 28-30. Be prepared, if you teach in a lower-income area, that several of your students may drop from your roster without warning. This is caused by unstable living environments, where families may move from one relative’s house to another throughout the school year. The size of my class varied from week-to-week. Now that I’m teaching in an independent school, my school’s student-teacher ratio is 9:1. This is one reason many parents choose independent schools when they can.

56% of teachers have a Master's Degree or higher

9 | 56% of teachers have a Master’s Degree or higher

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

I am represented by this statistic, as well as most of the teachers I know. In my job search process, it seemed like the #1 thing administrators cared about you having was a certification. Even with a Master’s Degree, it was virtually impossible for me to get hired until they knew I had taken all of my certification exams. BUT if it comes down to two certified teachers, having a higher education degree will likely put you ahead. A lot of teachers choose to attend grad school WHILE they are teaching. It’s important to remember that teachers are lifelong learners who are always looking to improve and grow!

43% of teachers sleep less than six hours a night

10 | 43% of teachers sleep 6 or fewer hours per night

Source: Ball State University

If you follow a lot of teacher accounts on Instagram, you’ll see that there is a LOT of talk about being tired and a lot of love for coffee! Why don’t teachers get enough sleep? According to a recent Gallup poll, the average American gets 6.8 hours of sleep… so none of us are doing a great job of sleeping. For teachers, there is work that comes home with you. Factor in commutes to work, and the responsibilities of home and kids, and it’s easy to see how it can be hard to get enough sleep. In fact, only 48% of moms sleep 7+ hours per night (regardless of their career). We’ve just all got to learn to prioritize our health, regardless of our circumstances.

the average public school teacher salary is $58,000

11 | The average public school teacher salary is $58,353

Source: National Education Association

In Tennessee, it’s about $10,000 less than that. But you can make more depending on your test scores, seniority, and observation scores. According to Chron.com, the average for private school teachers is $36,250. The decision between public and private is one of time vs. money. Private schools aren’t held to the intense state-testing standards that public schools are. As a private school teacher, you can usually leave work earlier, have more control over your content, and there is far less paperwork. Personally, the work-life balance and positive relationships with admin that private school provides are worth the pay difference for me.

83% of teachers teach for 10 years or longer

12 | 83% of teachers stay in the profession for 10 years or longer

Source: Washington Post

It’s very rare that you run across an educator who hates his/her job. If this job is not for you, will find out in the first five years. Teaching is too demanding for someone who is not passionate about it. Most teachers are happy to spend their own money, work the long hours, sit through the PDs, and all the other things that come along with teaching. It’s hard to explain because it sounds crazy! But when you love your job, you love all the hard things that come along with it. You embrace it, make light of it, and find teammates to encourage and be encouraged by. It’s kind of like how college life is exhausting but fun at the same time. There is so much joy in teaching. Just make sure to keep a positive attitude!

98% of Americans believe a good teacher can change a student's life

13 | 98% of Americans believe that a good teacher can change a student’s life

Source: ING Survey

This is something that keeps a lot of teachers running. There is so much appreciation felt by Americans toward teachers. When I tell people what I do, the first thing most of them say is, “It takes a special person to be a teacher. I could never do that!” Guess what? They are right! It is a difficult job that requires a lot of patience, perseverance, and passion. If you are called to be a teacher, YOU ARE A SPECIAL PERSON. You are willing to care for other people’s children like they are your own. You think about them on the weekends, over breaks, and even years later. You will maintain relationships with some students and their families for a lifetime.

75% of job success depends on your optimism levels and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat

As you think about your future career as a teacher, know that it is one that requires a lot of heart. BUT most teachers couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It is not a career driven by money or status, but it is a career driven by passion. Most educators feel that teaching is truly a calling, and that is why it’s so hard to “turn it off” at home. Teaching is personal. Your kids are YOURS for a whole year, and you do whatever it takes to help them succeed 🙂

No matter what grade you end up teaching, you find the perfect grade, school, teaching team that works for you. And once you do, you will know why people say that teaching is the greatest job on the planet!

What advice do you have for education majors/first-year teachers? Or, if you are an education major/first-year teacher, what questions/concerns/worries do you have?!


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Student Cubby Organization in My Classroom

Student cubbies can be a scary place.
I always feel like my students’ stuff is slowly creeping out of the cubbies to clutter up the rest of the room. 

 

A couple of years ago, I was cleaning out my kids’ cubbies and found a moldy orange that had clearly been hidden under papers for months

MONTHS, Y’ALL!
“If there’s one thing I get together next year,” I told myself “it will be the cubbies!”. 
And I have tried. I have really tried. I’ve come up with some systems that are making a difference. And luckily, I didn’t find any mold in last year’s cubbies, so I say that’s progress! Something that I think is so funny is that my former students will come by the room and say, “Who has my old cubby?” The cubbies are their own little personal spaces. I want them to feel as much ownership and responsibility over their cubbies as possible!  


Here’s how the student cubbies are organized in my current classroom:

 
Names
Of course, each child’s name is in the cubby. I found this cute little panda face clipart through the magic of Google. Then I copy and pasted it to a Word document and typed each child’s name. The font is Hello Firstie Big Gulp, and I LOVE it! 
I cut out the panda faces with the name and then glued them to black construction paper. Then I cut that into a circle and laminated. Voila! Cute little pandas looking at us all day 🙂 
 
Item Labels
Inside the cubbies, each one is labeled to remind the children where each item should go. I copied clipart and typed the labels in a Word document. Then printed them and laminated them, and used hot glue to glue them into the cubbies. This shows where each item goes. We keep lunch boxes, backpacks, raincoats, and a towel in each cubby.
Work Baskets
In the bottom of each cubby, the children have these colorful baskets. I originally purchased them from Really Good Stuff to use in the cubbies of my teacher shelf, but they were 1/4” too big. 1/4″! I was SO SAD, but I refused to return them. I knew I could use them for something! Finally, it hit me… they fit in the student cubbies and they could replace our current filing system. Now the kids put their work straight into their cubby basket.
Filing System
Speaking of our Filing System, here’s how it works: Each child puts his or her work into the basket in their cubbies all week. On Thursdays, we send home a “Thursday Folder” with all of the work. I call “Pink Baskets” and the kids with pink baskets put their work into their folders, and their folders into their backpacks and sit back down. Then I call another color. The parents empty the folder and return it on Friday. Then we start the process over again.
 
Baskets vs. Hanging Files
Last year, we used one of those metal hanging file cubes, and each child had a hanging file. It was a good system with two flaws: 
 
1. The amount of time wasted as the children stood in line and waited for their turn to file their work.

2. The amount of time it took for a teacher to transfer the work from the files to the folder.
If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s wasting time! This system also freed up prime real estate on a classroom shelf!
 
Where to Find Baskets:
  • These baskets are super durable (and pretty!), but they can be pricy.
  • Dollar Tree has some more affordable options (24 for $24, if you order in bulk from the website).
  • ELFA also has a container that would work well for this system on The Container Store’s website.
The colors aren’t as pretty as the ones from Really Good Stuff (all neutrals), but you could easily liven them up with cute tags or labels! I also wrote a post on the best places to find containers for your classroom… because I LOVE containers!
Cubby Inspector
Even with all of these labels/systems, the cubbies still manage to get messy. So I came up with the Most Organized Cubby award. The Cubby Inspector changes each week (I just rotate through the class list, so everyone has a fair turn). They inspect each cubby for 
  1. Lunch items to be inside a lunchbox
  2. Backpack to be zipped up
  3. All items to be in their designated locations with nothing hanging out of the cubby
Then they announce the Most Organized Cubby and give a Dojo point to the winner! Having them evaluate each other’s cubbies is also a sneaky way of helping them learn how to keep their own cubbies clean 🙂

And that’s how we keep our classroom cubbies somewhat organized!

This is what they look like at the end of a real school day. They still aren’t perfect (after all, it is Kindergarten), but everything is in its place, and that’s what matters most!

My parents visited my classroom for Grandparents’ Day last year. When they walked in they asked, “What have y’all been doing today?”. One of my little boys replied (in an exhausted-sounding voice) “Organizing!” He gets it 🙂

How do you keep your students’ cubbies organized (and prevent things from growing in them)? Any secret tips you would like to share? Post below so we can all benefit! 

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