The school year is quickly coming to an end. Soon, school will be out for summer – and that means that teachers are likely to start getting gifts from their students soon.
Teacher gifts are quite common in both private and public schools. Often, students or their families want their teachers to know that they are appreciated, and that their hard work over the school year has not gone unnoticed.
This is especially true given that teachers are often undercompensated, and sometimes even have to spend their own money on school supplies and other classroom necessities.
However, if you’re a teacher, you may be wary about accepting gifts from your students at the end of a school year. Whether your students buy you gift cards, give you a new planner, or present you with any other kind of gift, you may not be sure what to do.
In this article, we’ll provide some basic tips on accepting gifts from students at the end of the year. Check out our guide below, and see how you can make the end of the year easier on yourself – and on your students – by following our gift acceptance tips.
1. Make Sure That The Gift Doesn’t Violate Any Rules Or Regulations
First things first, you should make sure that the gift a student gives you doesn’t violate any school rules or regulations. This is common if you are working at a new school, and you’re not familiar with their specific guidelines for receiving gifts.
You may also be limited by government restrictions in some states, if you’re a public employee. For example, teachers in Massachusetts are not allowed to accept any gift that exceeds $50 in value. If a student buys a gift card to Target worth $75, and you’re teaching in Massachusetts, probably won’t be able to keep it.
In order to make sure you don’t keep any gifts that violate guidelines, you should consult with your supervisors, or other administrative staff at the school. Even if your state has no regulations concerning the value of a gift, there may be policies in place at the specific institution, or at a county or local level.
You may also be under an obligation to report all of the gifts that you receive to administrative staff at your school, depending on their value.
If you’re prepared in this way, you’ll be able to quickly recognize which gifts you can keep, and which ones may have to be returned to students in order to avoid violating local laws or school principles.
2. Think About Your Own Personal Policy For Receiving Gifts
Even if you are allowed to receive gifts from students, it may be a good idea to think about whether or not you – personally – are okay with accepting gifts. This depends on your specific teaching style, as well as the students you’re teaching.
For example, if you’re a preschool teacher, and the family of a special needs child gives you a $25 gift card for the kindness and attention that you gave to their child throughout the school year, there is probably no reason for you not to accept the gift.
The family simply wishes to show their appreciation – and because they didn’t buy a gift card or other gift that was very expensive, there’s no reason to think that they expect any kind of special treatment because of the gift.
On the other hand, if you are a high school teacher, things may get a little bit more complicated. An older student may, personally, give you a gift – and expect special treatment in return.
For example, if a student buys you a gift card worth $100 and tries to give it to you before an important, year-end exam, it may not be appropriate to accept the gift. It could be seen as a bribe, even if you remain impartial while grading the student’s work at the end of the year.
It’s okay to have your own policy for whether or not you accept gifts. If you think that a gift may make you feel uncomfortable, or it violates your own moral principles, there is nothing wrong with turning a student or their family down, and asking them to take back their gift. Just make it clear that it’s not due to a mistake on their part – but due to your own personal preferences and moral standards.
3. Never Expect A Gift From Anyone
Sure, it’s nice to be appreciated at the end of the year, especially if you’re a hard-working teacher. But you should still never expect any gifts from any of your students, or their families.
Getting a gift from a student or their family should always be a nice surprise, not something that you expect at the end of the year. You should be satisfied with doing your job, and being compensated both by your school and your work. Any other gifts are simply a bonus.
So, even if you have received quite a few gifts from students in past years, don’t expect it to happen again. If you keep your expectations low, you won’t be disappointed if you don’t get any gifts – and you’ll be thrilled when you do end up getting a gift from a thankful student.
4. It’s The Thought That Counts – Make The Student Feel Good About Their Gift
When you get a gift from a student, it’s important to make them feel good about giving you the gift – no matter how much it’s worth. Whether a student buys a gift card worth $100 and gives it to you, or simply gives you a piece of hand-made art or another lower-value gift, you should treat it with equal appreciation, and thank the student for thinking of you.
Even if you get a gift that you don’t need, such as a gift card to a restaurant that you don’t really like, you should appreciate each gift equally, and make sure that your students and their families feel good about giving you the gift.
You can always sell unwanted gift cards on websites like EJ Gift Cards later, and use the cash for something else – so the gifts your students give you will never go to waste.
5. Feel Free To Reject Any Gift That Makes You Feel Uncomfortable
Even if you do accept gifts from students, there may be times when a student tries to give you a gift that is inappropriate, or makes you feel uncomfortable.
For example, if a student gives a gift that seems inappropriate – such as a high school student giving a female teacher a gift card to Victoria’s Secret, for example – the teacher should always feel free to reject it.
You are under no obligation to ever accept a gift, so make sure that you take advantage of this fact to reject any gifts that make you feel uncomfortable – for any reason.
6. Send A “Thank You” Card
Whenever you get a gift from a student or a student’s family, make it a point to write down the details about the gift, and make a note about the student who gave it to you. Then, write a “thank you” card to the student and their family, and give it to them to show your appreciation for their presence.
Most people don’t expect to get a thank you card for their present, especially in our digital age. Taking the time to write a handwritten note, and mentioning the performance and behavior of the student in the note can make a gift feel much more special – and make sure that a student feels how grateful you are for their gift.
7. Consider Asking That Students And Families Donate To Charity Instead
If you don’t think that taking gifts from students is a good idea, but you would still like to allow them to show their appreciation for your work in some other way, allowing them to donate to a charity in your name is a great idea.
Because you don’t get any gifts directly, there is no risk that you could be seen as being biased due to accepting a gift from a student. And because you can choose the charity on your own, you’ll be able to give back to an organization that shares your ideals – which is worth more than any gift card!
If you’re not sure where to start, and you don’t have any current charities to which you’re donating, you can use a tool such as Charity Navigator in order to find local, state, and national charities who are doing work that you support.
Once you find the right charity, you can simply make an announcement to your class that, if they are thinking about giving you gifts, you would prefer that they donate directly to that charity, and give you a receipt. You could also use a deposit box in your classroom to collect donations, or use an online donation tool.
If you choose to do this, you should still keep a log of all of the students and families who have donated to your charity, so that you can thank them in person, and send them a thank you note to make them feel appreciated.
8. Think About Asking For A “Class Gift”
Instead of allowing students and their families to buy you individual gifts, you could ask for a “class gift” instead. Students can donate a small amount of money, like $5 each, and you can collect all of this money to buy a larger gift for your class.
For example, you could buy a gift card to Target or Office Max with the money, and buy new decorations or classroom supplies that will help you in the following school year.
You could even choose to spend this money on a fun activity for your own class – and give back to your students! If you collected $150 from your class for a class gift, for example, you could spend that money on a pizza party for your class on the final day of school. This is a great way to use the year-end gifts that you get from students and their parents.
Follow These Tips To Navigate The Complexities Of Year-End Gift Giving!
Whether you’re a kindergarten teacher, a middle school or high school teacher, or even a college professor, these tips are sure to help you understand what you should do when students try to give you gifts at the end of the school year.
And if you’ve gotten gifts that you don’t need – such as gift cards you can’t use – don’t worry! You can still sell your unwanted gift cards online for cash with a website like EJ Gift Cards.
At EJ Gift Cards, we buy unwanted gift cards from hundreds of different companies. With our simple selling process, great customer service, and secured payments delivered in cash via PayPal, we’re the ideal choice if you have a gift card – or several – that you don’t need!
So don’t wait. It’s easy to get cash for your unwanted gift cards, so log in or sign up today, and get started with EJ Gift Cards. Got more questions? Learn more about what we do from our FAQs, or contact us now!