What gift to give the World's Greatest Teacher?
November 20, 2011 8:07 AM   Subscribe

What stocking-stuffer-sized gift can I get for my boyfriend, an aspiring teacher?

My boyfriend is currently in a teaching program, and next semester he will be doing six full weeks of teaching in an elementary school (likely grades 6-7).

I'd like to get him a Christmas gift that he can use when he teaches. Since we're only exchanging stockings this year, the gift has to fit in his rather average-sized stocking. Maybe sub-$50, but there is flexibility there.

He really likes being uber-organized, but I'm not sure what that translates into for a teacher, so any ideas for practical, and physically smallish gifts are appreciated!

He's still a ways away from having his own classroom, so it's probably premature to get him gift certificates to teaching supply stores, or things like that (suggested in the previouslies). And don't worry - I'm getting him plenty of not-teacher presents too!
posted by just_ducky to Shopping (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's probably not what you are looking for, but, as a professor, I go through a ton of file folders every year, even with my efforts to reduce production of paper. Maybe a gift card to an office supply store? Or a handmade apple-a-week coupon book (for the more tongue-in-cheek approach)?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:12 AM on November 20, 2011

Little art figurines are an awesome desk-topper that makes any teacher look super cool. The blind boxes are also fun because it's a surprise for everybody!
posted by Mooseli at 8:18 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Gift cards to various stores, or even a prepaid Visa or American Express card. He'll want to buy supplies for himself, but if he's a big-hearted guy teaching in a lower-income area, he may want to buy supplies for the classroom or for particular students.

Maybe a really nice set of pens? If he's going to grading a lot of papers, he'll want something that is super-comfortable to write with for long periods.

If he teaches math - maybe a nice scientific calculator, if he doesn't already have one?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:22 AM on November 20, 2011

If he's not going to be bringing a dedicated laptop to school, USB thumb drives maybe? Though his school might give them some. My husband uses them constantly to move data easily from work to home computers. Not very exciting though, I know.

I don't know if it would work, might not fit right depending on stocking size, but my husband uses a Laptop Lunches bento system in conjunction with a Thermos soft lunchbox and refreezable ice cubes (so they'll fit modularly in any lunchbox situation) to bring leftovers and warm meals to work (and a good Thermos for drinks). He's been in two different schools and neither had a fridge he could depend on for keeping his lunch, so this has worked really well for him. He looks forward to lunch every day now, unlike before. Maybe everything but the outer box of the Laptop Lunches and then you could present him with that afterward?

And this is maybe sort of negative in a way, but if he's teaching in a high-needs place he might appreciate a lockbox for his daily valuables (I say high-needs because they often don't have safes or locked drawers or cabinets that still work for things like purses, bags, wallets). My husband ended up getting one and he's really glad because he's had stuff not locked down go missing many times.
posted by ifjuly at 8:34 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Teaching 6-7 year olds?
Hand sanitizer & baby wipes (kids are gross)
Packs of tissues (see above)
Gift card for the nearest coffee shop & lidded cup (no spills, and it will keep it warm a little longer, because teachers never get to finish their coffee while it's hot)
A good water bottle (again, no spills and classrooms can be hot and dry - and in a pinch, you sometimes need a splash of water to clean things)
I agree with the good lunchbox idea above.
First aid kit (of these items, I'd say the latex gloves; tweezers for splinters; safety pins; ice packs; an anti-diarrhea medication - plus headache medicine and an eye wash kit (glitter's not fun in your eye) are all the ones that have come in handy personally while I've worked/volunteered in a school.)

And this book: 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching is very well-done and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Down the road, when he's teaching more, an inexpensive digital camera (our parent council bought one for the school's office so that we can document the "Gotcha" program - a built-in USB feature makes a huge difference in convenience so he can take it right to a drugstore photo kiosk to have them printed or load them onto a school computer right away)
posted by peagood at 8:57 AM on November 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

One thing he might appreciate is an old school Ez-Grader http://learninggear.stores.yahoo.net/ezgrader.html
My mother-in-law has been using hers every day for the past 34 years teaching 4th & 5th grade math. And I want one so bad :-)
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 9:24 AM on November 20, 2011

$50 would buy an absolute ton of gold stars or other stickers. also, if going the gift card/certificate route, check and see if there's a teaching supply store in the area...they'll have more interesting/relevant stuff than an office supply store, and probably have more stocking-stuffers than you can shake a stick at...not that you should be shaking sticks in the presence of students ;)
posted by sexyrobot at 9:33 AM on November 20, 2011

sorry, missed the previouslies...but it would still be a good place to check...
posted by sexyrobot at 9:34 AM on November 20, 2011

I like the ideas of stickers, USB drives, and the ezgrader. (Stickers work for all grade school students - my 12th graders always really liked them!)

I was going to add some sort of fun timer - teachers time lots of activities, so having a timer is great!
posted by violetish at 9:39 AM on November 20, 2011

I think there are a lot of good suggestions in here. When I taught middle school I wish I had more of these:
- highlighters, sharpies of different colors, watercolor markers, colored pencils
- regular pencils
- a NICE pen
- laser pointer
- stapler
- hole punch
- small notepads

Finally, a trick a colleague told me was that she buys $5.00 or less model cars. So that when she student answers an important question in class she can award them with a "...brand new car!"
posted by Captain Sunshine at 9:44 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

From Ms. Vegetable:
If he uses wooden pencils, a nice portable pencil sharpener is really nice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:04 PM on November 20, 2011

HS teacher here.

Here are some ideas...
Stamps and good stamp pads - kids love stamps (so do teachers, to be fair)
Different coloured Expo (dry erase) markers and Sharpies.
USB drive
Good water bottle (resuable) that he can carry with him
Breath mints, small candies and chocolate for his desk. You never know when you need something lke that...
A decent planner (I like the smaller ones, that are spiral bound and half the size of A4 paper)
A really nice notebook for all his lesson planning ideas
A bag for taking schoolwork home
Really good pens, pencils and red pens. You can't underestimate the impact of having really good writing utensils, especially when you're writing so much
A stop-watch/timer
A good coffee tumbler and coffee gift card
Fun little toys/knick-knacks (like from Think Geek and/or Archie McFees).

Supporting a new teacher is tough - the best gift you can give him is just listening and sympathising. Good luck! The student teaching and first year are the most difficult periods of the career.
posted by guster4lovers at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Does he have an iphone? A nice portable speaker, like this one, might be useful in the classroom but also fun for when he's doing other things.
posted by judith at 4:52 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

New teacher here, I suggest:

Gift Certificate for a massage


posted by JimmyJames at 8:42 PM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

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