How to Teach Abroad: Applying and Interviewing

How to Teach Abroad: Applying and Interviewing

How to Teach Abroad

Start the Process Early

Now that you’ve decided to teach internationally, you might be wondering how do I teach abroad? Where do I start? It’s time to apply for positions and interview with new schools. The process for applying and interviewing happens much earlier than it would in the US. You’ll find that not only is the timeline moved up the process will be slightly different as well. 

When I was applying to teach internationally the first time, I worked on my resume in September, and I asked my principal for a letter of recommendation in October. Yup, that’s right in October! I had the letter at the start of November and began applying shortly after. I accepted my new teaching position at the end of January. 

Agencies to work with

There are so many different recruiting agencies out there. I’ve worked with one agency the most so I’ll talk about them here. There are many different ones, so reach out and do some research to figure out which one will work best for you.  

ISS-Schrole

I have primarily worked with International School Services-Schrole. You have to sign up for an account, and I believe it is around $75 for a year’s membership. Remember, you’re going to have to invest money into your job search to yield results. Signing up for an account will get you access to hundreds of schools and positions. It will also allow you to attend any of their job fairs for free. Once you sign up for an account, you’ll need to create your profile. 

Personal Information: You’ll want to upload your CV, necessary information about yourself- date of birth, gender, country of birth, country of passport, languages you speak, contact information, emergency information, and marital status. Now, marital status might seem weird, but if you are a couple and are both teachers, you’ll apply to schools as a team. If you’re married and one partner is not a teacher, you might get asked some questions about what the other partner is planning on doing for work. You’ll also want to include a picture. 

Professional Information: After entering your personal information, you’ll need to enter your professional information- the university you attended, your degree and date of issue, a copy of your degree, your teaching license details, and a copy of your license. Then you’ll have to upload your work experience. Next, you’ll need to ask references to complete a secure online reference check. You will need to enter your reference’s first and last name, email address, phone number, organization, dates you worked with them, relationship, and position type. Once you click submit, an email is immediately sent. So, you’re going to want to send an email and ask before hitting send a request. 

After you complete your profile, you can browse so many positions all over the world! 

Additional Agencies

Here are a few agencies. There are many others out there that help people teach internationally. There are many more resources on how to teach abroad on their sites as well. Check them out! 

Search Associates

UNI

TIE

Do Your Research

Before I click to apply, I do some research. I feel like that is pretty standard for job searches. Right?

Location

First, where is the school located? Is this an area I can see myself living? Keep an open-mind here. I knew nothing about Poland before moving there, and I absolutely loved it! A lot of Americans are always worried about safety. I have honestly felt safer in Poland and Oman than I ever have in the US. If you’re concerned about safety, then do your research. It is so crucial that you can envision yourself living in this location for at least 2 years.

Website

The next thing I look at is the school’s website. Now I do know that a lousy school could have a great site, and a good school could have a terrible website, BUT if it looks like the school’s website was made in the early 2000s and forgotten about, I move on. I want to see current events on a website, social media accounts, a calendar of events, a welcome letter from administrations. If things don’t seem right, they probably aren’t. I highly encourage you to trust your gut instincts throughout this entire process.

Philosophy

After the website test, I check the guiding statements of the school. These should be easy to find on a school website. Does my teaching philosophy align with that of the school? If it doesn’t, I move along. Find a school that is a good fit for you. 

Check International Schools Review

I don’t even know how up to date this website is kept. I was told to check this site by teachers who had been in the international teaching game for a long time. I did read reviews for my past school, and I would say they were reasonably accurate. Here teachers can evaluate their schools and their administrators. I checked it, and I considered that most people who leave reviews are usually slightly disgruntled, I read what was there and moved on. There’s always a hint of truth in every review, but I didn’t review my last school, and I was happy there. Most people who leave reviews are leaving and want to share why. I don’t even think I read the reviews for my current school. If you wish to subscribe and check reviews, do it. 

Package

Sometimes, you can get information about the benefits package before applying. You can see a salary range and know what is included and what is not included. Any information you can find on this topic is helpful before you apply. Sometimes there isn’t any information on this prior to applying.

What Are They Looking For?

When international (and I assume most other) schools are hiring, they want to know you are a great teacher, but they also want to see if you’re cut out for the international teaching life. Read this post about choosing to teach internationally. Schools want to make sure that you aren’t going to fall apart and run home at the first sign of trouble. Once I applied at a school that asked how I dealt with loneliness and isolation on their application. I’ve also had some interviews focus on who I am as a person, not a teacher. International teaching is a different game.

Here are a few topics/questions that I have been asked, or my friends have been asked.

-Have you lived away from your family before?

-Do you have hobbies outside of teaching? I find that having a life outside of teaching is a high priority in the international teaching community. International teachers live vibrant lives outside of their teaching lives.

-Can you continue these hobbies here?

-Do you have previous international school experience?

-What is your relationship status?

-Do you speak another language?

-How do you deal with new situations?

-How do you deal with homesickness?

-What have you learned from teaching internationally that you wouldn’t have learned if you stayed in the US? 

 

This is a very basic list of questions but hopefully, you get the gist a bit better. If you have international teaching experience leave some additional interview questions in the comments. I’ve only gone through interviewing twice so I’m still quite new with this section. 

The Process

Here is how I applied to schools. Some people attend a job fair, and that process looks totally different. If you’ve participated in a job fair before, please leave a bit of insight into the process below!

  1. I searched open positions on ISS
  2. I researched schools and decided which ones I would apply to and which ones I would pass up
  3. I checked ISS to see if I applied through the ISS website or if I applied on the school’s website
  4. I wrote a cover letter and answered all the questions asked in a thoughtful way
  5. Sometimes nothing happens next. Other times you get an email asking for an interview. And sometimes schools reach out to you and ask to interview you without applying 
  6. Do your research again and jot down important questions and information to bring up in the interview. Remember, interviews might happen at weird times due to time differences
  7.  Interview- probably via Skype
  8. Sometimes nothing happens, and at times you get a second interview
  9. Interview again sometimes with a teacher and the principal but usually with a director or other administrators
  10. Sometimes nothing happens, and then sometimes you get offered a position
  11. Read the contract, have a friend read it. If something seems off to ask about it
  12. Take the job and sign your contract or say thank you for the opportunity and continue your search

Ask Questions

Remember, you are also interviewing the school. You need to have questions prepared, and the questions you ask an international school might be slightly different than the questions you ask a school in your home country.

Here are some possible questions to ask:

  • Who is responsible for getting your visa? Does it happen before you arrive or after? 
  • How do you get there? Does the school pay? Do you pay and get reimbursed? 
  • When do you need to arrive?
  • Does the school provide or assist with finding a place to live?
  • Is there are realtor fee if they set you up with a realtor?
  • When do you get paid the first time? 
  • When does your health insurance begin? What does it cover?
  • Is there a shipping allowance? Is it a lump sum, or do you get reimbursed?
  • What teacher materials are available in the country? What might you want to bring?
  • What supplies are in the classroom? What do most teachers bring?
  • Will they connect you with a teacher mentor?
  • How do they help with the transition? 
  • What is daily life like in ______?

Accepting an Offer

Before you accept an offer, read the contract again and again. Question things that don’t seem right. I had to choose my health insurance based on three options in my first year teaching internationally. Another option was to get a gym membership, but you had to opt-out of insurance to get that option. I asked which one most teachers choose and went with that plan. It turns out I didn’t have health insurance for most of my first year! Choosing your health insurance from three very different plans does seem odd in retrospect. Ask questions about the parts of your contract that you don’t understand.


Only accept an offer if you plan to follow through on it. Accepting an offer as a placeholder for a better offer isn’t very respectable in the international world. Schools go through quite a process to recruit teachers, and having to start all over because you got a better offer leaves schools in a tough place.

 

Congratulations! You are off on an unforgettable adventure! You’re now ready to pack to move to a new country! 

Friday Five: Back to School After Winter Break

Friday Five: Back to School After Winter Break

Going back to school after winter break can be ROUGH! We’ve all been there. Transitioning back into the new year can be tricky. The kids are still in vacation mode, and you might be too. Here are five tips to help reign it in and get back to business after a long break.

Getting Back to School After winter Break

One

Catch Up With Each Other

You just had a break! Take a minute to catch up and share all about your holidays. As an international teacher, students often travel to different countries and places over breaks. We usually get out the map and look where everyone went on holiday. This is a lot of fun. Kids also share what I call smiles and frowns. Smiles are those significant parts of vacation and frowns the not so great part. 


After a break ease back in and take a moment to check in as a community. Maybe that doesn’t look like getting down the map. Maybe it looks like enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or tea and talking about the best parts of our break. Maybe it means taking a moment to write a story about the break. Any way you do it is great. Isn’t the best part of coming back to school after a break catching up with your teacher friends? Let your kids enjoy that too.

Two

Get Back Into Routines

Routines are like the glue that holds all the learning together. I like to remind students of expectations and keep them to it after a break. We usually spend the first weeks back after break reviewing our routines and practicing them. Don’t wait too long to get back into them, or it might feel like you never will. Remember that time spent reviewing routines now will save you time later. Make sure you’ve all got your routines back down before diving too far into learning.

Three

Have some Fun

Joy and laughter are so important in the classroom. Don’t forget while reviewing those routines and diving back into content to take some time for fun. Fun can be anything! Maybe it’s a fun hidden picture, and perhaps it’s an extra Go Noodle video, maybe it’s playing four corners. Just make sure that there’s some fun and laughter in your classroom during your first days back as a teacher.

FOur

Take Time For Yourself

Don’t burn yourself out! Hopefully, you took the vacay to live your non-teacher life. So now, don’t spend the first weeks back living at school. Utilize those prep times and try not to stay too late. Take time to invest in your life outside of school as well. The more you invest in yourself as a person, the better you are as a teacher. Trust me.

Five

Give Yourself Grace

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything worked out perfectly after a holiday? Yeah, I can dream about that world, but realistically it doesn’t. Give yourself grace. Take that time away from yourself. Look into using Calm or another meditation app for those moments when things are too much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done a quick emergency calm session when the kids went to specials. Remember, you’ll get there. You will get back into learning and all of the routines that make your classroom a beautiful place. Rome wasn’t built in a day. 

How do you like to set your self up for success after a break? 

Parent Communication Log with Google

Parent Communication Log with Google

Parent Communication Log- I NEED IT TO BE EASY

Using Google Forms as a parent communication log is one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It is so easy and super helpful! 

A few years ago, I was about halfway through the year when I realized that I wasn’t keeping logging any of my parent communication! Eeek! It wasn’t that I wasn’t communicating with parents. I wasn’t making any record of it. I tried to jot down a sticky note and put it in a file, but it wasn’t working. It wasn’t easy enough for me, and all those crumpled notes in a file folder weren’t helpful. Then GDPR rolled around and writing random notes and shoving them somewhere wasn’t going to work. I had to digitize my communication log. Luckily this worked in my favor, and I was able to keep track of parent conversations much more convenient. 

Hooray for Google Forms!

I made a Google Form and then pinned it in Chrome right next to my Gmail. Any time I had a conversation with a parent, I simply logged it on the form. I was able to easily keep track of who I had talked to and what I had discussed.

BONUS! When I used Google Forms for my parent communication log I was able to more easily look at and analyze my data due to how the form presents it. This was revolutionary. Here’s how I did it and the sort of data you can discover. Hopefully, this can help you too!

How to Create Your Own Form

  1. Open Google Drive
  2. Click the new button on the top left

3. Hover over more

4. Click Google Form (purple logo)

Name Your Form

Name your form and add a description if you would like. I named it Parent Communication 19-20 just to keep track. Usually, I keep the description blank because this is just for me. I don’t need a description of a parent communication log. I know what this form is all about. 

QUestion 1: Student Names

I like the first question on the form to be the student’s names. On the right choose dropdown. Enter student names. I make this question and most of the questions on the form required. Just in case I’m in a rush that will ensure I included all the necessary information. 

*I have obviously created a fake class for this and have chosen fake names for this fake class. 

Question 2: Date

The date is obviously helpful for tracking parent communication. Here you can keep track of when the conversations took place. Click date as the question type on the right. Again, I make this question required. 

Question 3: Method of Contact

Click checkboxes as the question type- every once in a while you’ll have multiple methods of contact. This allows you to select what you need. I also have an other option because you really never know what else you might need. Having that option available just makes things easier. 

Question 4: Reason for Contact

This one is so important and I struggled a bit with what categories it should be. I also add an other box to this one because sometimes the reason for contact doesn’t match any of the options. A few years ago I had an academic progress option but I felt that fell under academic. Choose what works for you. You might find that you are constantly typing in an option. If that’s the case, edit your form and add that option in. 

Here I chose multiple choice but it could also be beneficial to use checkboxes so that more than one option could be chosen.

Question 5: Initiated By

This wasn’t originally a question on the form but I soon realized I wanted to know who reached out to who. I chose multiple choice for this question and also added an other option. 

Question 6: Notes

Use the paragraph option this will allow you to type whatever you need to type in the box. This is the box where I type in all of the details of our conversation. What topics were discussed? What ideas were expressed by me and what ideas were expressed by the parents? This is really the reason you’re using a parent communication log so make sure to write all the details. 

Question 7: Follow Up

Sometimes this just says none and sometimes it lists out different things I need to do after the communication. This helps me keep track of the next steps. Sometimes I also schedule next steps into my Google Calendar just to help me stay on top of everything in the classroom. 

Analyze Your Data

Once you have your form set and enter the communication data you can see all your parent communication very clearly laid out. I am using the fake names and fake student data that I created for this blog post. (aka I just filled out the form by randomly clicking several a few times) 

Just peaking at this data what do you notice? What sticks out to you? 

Usually, in this section I notice that I’m communicating about one student at a far larger scale than the others. I reflect on this and make adjustments as needed.

I also notice that there are students who I’ve made no parent contact with or limited contact with. I reflect on that and also adjust as needed. 

It used to be that if you didn’t hear from me, everything is going well. That just isn’t the case anymore. We need to communicate with all parents and give them insights into their children’s learning. Of course, Seesaw opens up an amazing venue for parent communication but a quick email or phone call doesn’t hurt either. 

This one I find interesting. Emails typically win out and when I notice that I try to be more conscious of picking up the phone. Even though as an introvert I despise talking on the phone it is usually the best way to ensure your message is heard in the proper tone and with the proper delivery. 

I like to try to keep a balance between academics and social-emotional contact. Here you can see I made contact for social-emotional reasons far more than any other reason. Depending on the time of year you might make contact for one area more than other areas. Just keep in mind that we educate the whole child and therefore our parent communication should reflect that. 

Thoughts on Parent Communication Logs

Any questions or comments just leave them in the box below! I would love to hear how the form is working out for you and how you keep a parent communication log. 

New Years Resolutions for Teachers

New Years Resolutions for Teachers

Happy New Year!

Well, teacher friend, we made it to January! It’s time to look forward and set some new years resolutions for teachers! My teacher life in 2019 with such joy and a renewed passion for teaching. I am approaching the second half of the school year, feeling so refreshed as an educator. My teacher resolutions will look so different from ones  I’ve set in the past. 

There have been years though where I haven’t hit January feeling the way I do now. We all go through different seasons of teaching. A lot is coming up for us in the second half of the school year. Here are a few new years resolutions for teachers to help us thrive in 2020!

New Year's Resolutions For Teachers

Take Time For You

“A good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others.” -Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

I’m sure that Mustafa had the most excellent intentions when this was said, but we as teachers are too often candles. The problem with being like a candle is that they burn out, and teacher burn out is real. I have felt it; I know so many teachers who have also felt it and some who leave teaching altogether because of burnout.

Once you’re burned out, you’re of no use to anyone. So, let’s agree not to listen to this quote and instead act like trees. A tree gives off oxygen, which is very useful for us, it provides shelter for animals, and it helps fertilize the soil. A tree doesn’t consume itself to provide for others. It is strong and stable. If a tree could, I’m sure it would take time for itself. Invest in yourself. You’re of no use to anyone if you’re burned out. 

Ideas:

Leave your school bag at work over the weekend. I did this a few years ago, and I am telling you it was magical! I didn’t do the work I brought home anyway, and it just stressed me out. Reclaiming my weekends meant I was investing in myself and wasn’t putting all my energy into school. 

Read for fun. When I taught grade 3 in the US, I was experiencing all sorts of burn out. One day a student asked if I did my 20 minutes of reading the night before. I hadn’t because I was trying to survive, but at that moment, I realized maybe I should read. So I got myself a reading log and started reading for 20 minutes every night, just for fun, like I asked my students. Invest in yourself and take time to read. 

Take a trip. Anytime teaching gets a little too stressful; I take a quick weekend getaway anywhere I can. In Poland, that often meant going to the mountains in Zakopane. In Wisconsin, sometimes it just meant going to my sister’s house or going to a spa. It’s amazing what a little weekend away can do for you. In Oman, I try to take a trip to the beach.

A little retail therapy never hurt anyone. While my bank account may beg to differ a good trip to Target, Zara, TJ Maxx, or Sephora could be just the reset you need. 

Be Present

If you’ve taught the TCRWP Units of Study, there’s a lesson in the grade 3 reading curriculum that got me one year. You teach the kids that sometimes readers fall into the trap of reading on autopilot. I sometimes think as teachers, myself included, we get stuck in the trap of teaching on autopilot. We go through the motions and teach the most beautiful lessons, but we are not present in the classroom.

Start with just celebrating small moments of joy in your classroom and work from there. It could be taking that moment to laugh alongside your students instead of immediately redirecting attention back to the lesson is just what’s needed. One year I was having a hard time, so I jotted down three joyful moments each day. These three moments were sometimes simple (like no one complained their dry erase marker was dead) and sometimes were meaningful moments (all those lightbulb moments we live for).

Notice when you check out, and autopilot begins. There are days I feel checked out during morning meeting. So, I acknowledge that and work on my active listening. Sometimes I find myself in writing moving from writer to writer conferring without really being in the moment as much as a could be. Notice when it happens, because it happens to all of us, and check back in.

Plan with Intention

This is an excellent resolution for teachers- including me! Use your prep times to your advantage and plan out your teaching. I find that the moments that I am the most stressed out as a teacher have also been the moments I am the least prepared. Click HERE to read more about structuring your prep time. 

Teaching is a lot of planning, but ensuring that your teaching is intentional means that you’re doing what’s best for your students. Taking your prep times to intentionally plan out each lesson to guide your students where they’re going next means that you’ll not only be more prepared but also more effective as a teacher. 

Show Appreciation

Who doesn’t like feeling appreciated? At one school I worked at, we took time at the start of every staff meeting to honor someone. Everyone needed to show up with an idea of a staff member they would like to acknowledge and why. You never knew who was going to be asked to honor someone and who was going to be honored. This little 5 minutes of appreciation set the tone for our work together.
How else could you appreciate someone? One of my teacher friends used to bring treats to a weekly meeting; another one popped in with Starbucks after a rough day, one principal would write little cards of appreciation, one principal would sneak into your classroom and tweet out something great you were doing. The ways of appreciating each other are endless.

Get Moving

This year I am working to incorporate more movement into my classroom intentionally. We use GoNoodle, and sometimes we use Adventure to Fitness. We have a cool Spark bike in our class, that is great. It’s not unique to my classroom, and many other classrooms at our school have one. I also intentionally plan movement breaks into my schedule to engage students in moving, not just sitting. 

I have worked to get moving during the day. Sometimes that means taking the long path to the staff lounge, and other times, it means taking a walking break around the school during prep to keep moving. Moving throughout the day is so important. I find myself able to focus much better after a little movement session. 

Reignite Your Passion

Listen, there have been moments in my teaching career when I’ve just thought I was done. I’ve had to work hard to remember I even had a passion for teaching at some points over the last nine years. It happens to all of us. Reigniting your passion won’t look the same as other teachers, but it is necessary to keep your sanity and stay in the game. This was one of my teacher new year’s resolutions last year. 

Sometimes I read professional books to reignite my passion. I read the book Thrive one year to help get myself back in the game. This year I’m read the book Onward to renew my teacher spirit. 

Many, many years ago, I created a teacher twitter account to connect with educators who were also passionate. That was extremely helpful when I felt I was stuck. I could see the hope and passion of so many other educators. That pushed me to push myself and do better as a teacher.

One year to reignite my passion, I separated my teacher Instagram from my personal Instagram. I made a new account so that I wouldn’t have to see teacher stuff continually, and I could see more of my friend’s posts. While it might seem counterintuitive to want to see teacher stuff less, it was what did the trick. I found myself constantly feeling like I wasn’t enough as a teacher when scrolling through Instagram. Once I separated the accounts, I was able to only look at my teacher Instagram when I wanted. It helped me focus on my own life but sometimes look for great ideas when I needed to. 

One time I paired up with a motivated colleague, and we took classes together on literacy. We were in it together and pushed one another to try new things. It was so fun; we met up once a week to discuss our success and our failures to support one another’s learning.

There are so many different ways to reignite your passion for teaching. Some ideas that I’ve used in the past wouldn’t work out for me now, so figure out what works best for you at this moment in time and go after it. 

Try Something New

Yup! Trying something new as a teacher is so important. In September of this year, I found myself sitting on the floor of my classroom (because I was making an anchor chart down there), thinking that I hadn’t tried any new strategies for a while. I went to my computer where I had a list of new things I wanted to try (because I am a nerd like that) and I chose one and tried it out the next day. It was so fun to do something I hadn’t done before. Trying something new can reignite that spark you had for teaching, it can take you off autopilot, and it can just be fun!
When’s the last time you tried something new in your classroom?

Take Credit For Your Success

This last one is deep: why not go out strong?
Once I was sitting with my assistant principal during my toughest year as a teacher. She complimented the fact that all of my students who began the year on a behavior intervention had graduated. I no longer had any students on check in check out. Graduating from check-in check out did not happen at our school. I deflected the compliment and put it back on my students. They were doing such hard work, continually trying out new strategies and working to change their behaviors. She stopped me immediately.
“Natasha, don’t deflect the compliment. You need to recognize that this may not have happened with another teacher. You’re the reason your kids have made this growth. It is because of you, and you need to realize that. You’re a great teacher, and you work so hard. You deserve to take the credit for your successes.”
It was that little speech that made me realize how often I attribute my success to others. I think that’s just the way we are as teachers. Of course, this student grew so much because of their efforts. But also because of the time you took to teach them what they needed. Take credit for your success. It feels uncomfortable at first, but then it just feels great. Don’t forget to recognize everyone else who helped with the success yet also remember it was you who did that too!

What Are your Teacher New Year's Resolutions?

What are other great new year’s resolutions for teachers? Do you have any resolutions for your teacher life? Have any other strategies teachers could benefit from? 

Leave all your thoughts and ideas in the comments below! 

The Best Gifts for Teachers

the best gifts for teachers

What Are The Best Teacher Gifts?

It’s that time of year, and gift buying is in full swing. What are the best gifts for teachers?  I have zero expectations of receiving gifts. It is always nice to receive a gift from a student, but it is by no means necessary. Trust me when I say that teachers are not in teaching for gifts. The most memorable and best gifts I’ve received have been so small but so meaningful.

I’m not a parent, but I can imagine in some communities gift-giving is a huge stressor. I have spent hours scouring Etsy in search of the perfect gift for my assistant teacher or teacher friends only to find nothing that fits. Here are the most memorable gifts I’ve received.

Two Hershey Kisses

One year, it might have been my first year teaching, a child came in with two Hershey kisses. He handed me the first one and said this is for taking care of my brain and helping me learn. He then gave me the second one and said this is for taking care of my heart and helping me grow. Well! My little teacher heart melted, and that gift has stuck with me all these years later. Teachers LOVE stuff like this. It was so simple but so meaningful. I teared up just writing about this story again. Sometimes the best gifts come in the smallest packages.

Tall Caramel Macchiato

Parent-Teacher conferences are an intense time for teachers. Not in a bad or good way, but it is exhausting to connect with every family on the same evening. I remember my dad once commented that it was odd teachers had to write down notes like they didn’t know the student. That isn’t why teachers write down notes. Can you imagine having 20 intense and detailed conversations one right after the next? It’s a lot, and I want to ensure that I explain all that I need to about each child. I want to have a powerful and meaningful conversation. Anyway, my toughest year of teaching so far started with a tall caramel macchiato. A mom walked in for her conference with two. She happened to be my first conference of the evening, and caramel macchiatos are my favorite. This was another kind, but simple thank you.

A Homemade Card

I love it when kids give me homemade stuff. One year I happened to have the daughter of a teacher at our school. For weeks she had been warning me that I was in for a real treat with my gift. Her daughter had been carefully planning it out and working on it for weeks. The morning finally came when I was to receive this magnificent gift. She came in to let me know that her daughter was a little emotional because some of the glitter didn’t stick the way she wanted it to. I was so excited to finally see what this little gem was working on for almost a month.

She walked into our classroom with a huge smile on her face and handed me a card. It was three large sheets of construction paper taped together to display a winter scene. There were cotton balls for clouds and so many stickers. The glitter looked beautiful. The class gathered around us as she explained in detail each part of the card and why she made it the way she did. It was a true labor of love. Any homemade card is a great gift!

A Portrait

Sitting on a shelf in my classroom right now is a portrait of me drawn by one of my previous gems. I received this magnificent drawing as an end of the year gift. He spent so much time sketching out my face and then determining what best represented me. There are hundreds of tiny hearts all around the border of the picture. His mom did say she was recruited when he couldn’t draw any more hearts but needed more! There are little books drawn on my face, and there is a lot of hot pink because that is my favorite color. Each part of me as a teacher is represented in his drawing. It’s something that students always marvel at in the classroom and get excited when they know why a detail was included in the portrait.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

This is my most recent addition to the list. As an expat, macaroni and cheese is hard to come by. A family went back to the US for a short trip. I jokingly said that they needed to enjoy their trips to Target and eat some delicious macaroni and cheese for me. I was so surprised when they came back, and I received a small rectangular present. When I opened it up to find a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, I died. I was so excited, the American students and I explained macaroni and cheese to students who had never had it. We even wanted to plan a macaroni and cheese party, but it never happened. I went home and made it for dinner that evening and could not have been a happier teacher!

Don’t add more stress to your life, worrying about the best teacher gift. The most meaningful gifts are from the heart and based on the positive relationship between you, your child, and the teacher. One of my teacher friend’s sons insisted on giving his teacher chapstick because she wears some everyday! These gifts might seem small or silly but they are the greatest gifts a teacher can receive.

 

What was one of your best gifts?

Teachers, what is the best gift you’ve ever received?