- Amazon Echo Dot- The Amazon Echo Dot is not just practical for home use. There are many things that teachers can use the Dot for in their classroom. Students can ask Alexa to spell a word or provide a synonym (which is much more fun that asking the teacher), what happened on this day in history, or to solve a math problem when checking their work. Teachers can use it to set timers, pick random numbers, set reminders, and much more! Hint: The Dot retails at $39.99 but usually goes on sale after Thanksgiving!
- Rocketbook Smart Notebooks- Teachers have to attend a lot of meetings. A LOT. Therefore, we are always taking notes. This means we go through a lot of notebooks. So many that I often find myself forgetting which notebook my notes from a specific meeting are in. Rocketbook Smart Notebooks help to eliminate this problem, and it is also eco-friendly. Using Rocketbooks, a teacher can take notes and, when finished, simply scan the QR code on that page to upload the notes to a storage cloud. When finished, the Rocketbook easily erases so that it can be used again. This will save teachers a ton of money by eliminating the need to purchase notebooks, a ton of time by keeping their files stored online for easy access, and a lot of trees! Rocketbooks come in a variety of sizes and styles designed to meet the needs of every teacher and range from $12-$32.
- Personal Laminator- Teachers love laminators. We spend a lot of time creating resources for our classrooms, and we want these resources to last. Unfortunately, many schools do not have laminators and, if they do, there is usually a line to use it or it is “temporarily” broken (which means it will be fixed with next year’s budget). Consider purchasing a personal laminator, which can be bought at various retailers for $30 or less, for your child’s teacher. This is a gift that will last for years and will save your teacher so much time!
- Gift Cards- A $5 gift card to Starbucks can go a long way for a teacher on any given Monday morning! Walmart and Target gift cards will appeal to almost any teacher and are a safe bet. Since teachers are lifelong learners, a Barnes & Noble gift card would also be nice. Hint: For parents who like to buy wine for teachers, don’t! Alcohol is not permitted on school grounds, but a gift card to the local winery will keep us from both being banned from school property!
- Donate to Our GoFundMe Accounts- Many teachers use GoFundMe.com to raise funds for classroom projects. Find out if your child’s teacher or school needs funds for these special projects by searching the teacher’s or school’s name on this website.
- Classroom Supplies- Yes, it really doesn’t take much to make teachers happy! A pack of Expo markers can put a smile on our face almost as easily as the day before Christmas break does! Every year, my coworkers and I held a Chinese Christmas Party. Someone always brought a box of school supplies that included Sharpies, Expo markers, Post-It notes, pencils, and paper clips. This was ALWAYS the first present to get selected! Some other supplies to consider are hand sanitizer bottles, tissues, paper towels, pens, glue, crayons, and paper.
- Volunteer at the School- This is a great way to express your gratitude to all of your child’s teachers, and it is completely free! Ask your child’s teachers if you can come in for an hour or two to help them make copies, grade worksheets, organize files, or set up a bulletin board. You may need to get principal approval, so check with the school administrators first.
Rachel is a teacher at Hamilton County Adult High School, where she was named the 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year. She serves on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, as a Teacher Ambassador for the Public Education Foundation, as a mentor to new teachers in her district and was awarded the “Outstanding Educator Award” by Humanities Tennessee in 2017. She is a former SCORE fellow, America Achieves Fellow, Teaching American History Fellow, PEF/HCDE Leadership Fellow, Fund for Teachers Fellow, Gilder Lehrman Fellow and NEH Fellow. She previously served on the TN’s U.S. History Rangefinding Committee and has been the recipient of several grants. Also serving as an Academic Coach for inner-city youth with the City of Chattanooga, Rachel understands the importance of advocating for students of all ages and backgrounds. She received her B.A. in History from ETSU and her M.A. in Education from Lee University. She also serves as a Hope Street Group Tennessee Teacher Fellow, engaging her colleagues in providing classroom feedback to the Tennessee Department of Education on public education policy issues.