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Advice · What Teachers Really Want / Need

What Teachers Really Want / Need

I had a really great day yesterday! I got to go “back to school”…well, at least for a few minutes anyway. It was fun…but it was eye-opening as well. One of the things I learned was quite shocking actually. According to a national survey conducted by Kelton Research, 97 percent of all teachers pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. As a matter of fact, the average American teacher, spends approximately $1,000 out of their own pocket for essential classroom supplies.

In light of those statistics, I was more than a little excited about the opportunity to be involved in the OfficeMax A Day Made Better yesterday. In an effort to help ease the financial burden on teachers OfficeMax surprised 1,000 teachers with a total of $1 million worth of school supplies.

OfficeMax gave me the privilege of choosing a teacher in my own community to present this gift of $1,000 worth of school supplies to. Since my youngest, Sten, is a freshman in high school this year I let him decide who that teacher would be. He chose his English teacher, Ms. Payne.

CLICK HERE to see our little presentation:

As exciting and rewarding as it was to be involved in giving one teacher this wonderful gift from OfficeMax, it got me thinking about what else we can do as a “community” of readers of this blog to continue to help out our teachers who give so much to our kids. I know when “Teacher Appreciation Day” or the holidays roll around we want to give something to the teachers in our lives, but it’s not always easy to figure out just what that should be. So I decided to do some research. After reading MANY teachers comments I think I have a handle on what teachers REALLY want….and more importantly….really NEED.

Here are BY FAR the top 3 most popular:

Gift Cards and Restaurant Certificates

  • As a teacher I adore receiving gift cards! I always use them, and they allow me to treat myself. I WISH someone would give me a card for a pedicure or a home improvement store.
  • Gift cards are awesome. Don’t feel like we don’t appreciate a $5 card to Target – we really do!
  • Gift cards to go to eat are marvelous, since we often bolt home with tons of grading to do.
  • As the wife of a teacher, gift cards are simply awesome. Many people do not realize how much time goes into it. My husband not only goes in early and leaves late, but he still has to grade papers and answer emails and texts from students and parents in the evening. I love the gift cards for much needed date nights!

School Supplies (or gift cards to BUY school supplies)

  • Post-its, staples, pencils, markers, etc. By December, lots of that stuff is gone. (It’s amazing how fast 2nd graders can go through markers!)
  • We always need supplies. Kids still like stickers, even when they’re 17 and cranky!
  • Copy paper and a smile from parents.
  • Classrooms always need tissues, hand sanitizer, paper towels and pencils. Dull but always appreciated 🙂 Also cute or colorful office supplies (paper clips, binder clips, folders, note pads) are useful.
  • Copy paper! I only have 4 reams to last me for the rest of the school year.
  • Receiving an ink cartridge for my school printer would be awesome.
  • Printer cartridges! I received one black and one color ink cartridge to last the entire year. They were gone before Thanksgiving. 
  • Hand sanitizer! I always need this stuff.

Personal Notes/Cards/Letters.

  • I have notes and letters from students (and young teachers I supervised), dating back many, many years that I absolutely treasure. That was always my favorite gift to receive, and to give.
  • I would much rather have a thoughtful card or note from a student than almost anything else. I keep them in a scrapbook and pull them out when I’ve had a challenging day, or I don’t feel like I’m making a difference.
  • I appreciate it if the parents and kids made a card with a note telling me how much they enjoyed the year with me. I still have all the notes, photos and homemade gifts that I’ve been given by my kids!
  • As a teacher, I wholeheartedly agree with the heartfelt thank you note. I keep each and every one of them and when things may be tough and I “forget” why I’m a teacher, these are my inspiration. No money needs to be spent. Notes from the kids are always awesome.
  • I have been a teacher…and a mom…for many years. The best gift I ever received was a little book made by a student titled, “Why I love Mrs. >>>” It is filled with love and affirmations of why I love to teach….ten years later, it is still a prominent piece of ‘art’ in my class.
  • On the last day of school last year, I ended up with a desk covered in doughnuts, cupcakes, candy, and cookies. So sweet, but a note would be much more appreciated. 

I think I can safely say that if you really want to make a teacher’s YEAR……… a personal note from you and/or your child paired with a thoughtful gift card is a sure-fire winner!


Since 2007, A Day Made Better and other OfficeMax Goodworks programs have contributed more than $25 million in grants and supplies to support more than 31,000 teachers and their classrooms. Learn more at adaymadebetter.com.

Disclaimer: OfficeMax donated the classroom supplies that I received and donated to the teacher. The gift card featured in this giveaway is also provided by OfficeMax and will be sent to the winner directly. Opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own. I have not been compensated for this post in any other way.

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

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