End of the year Gift ideas for your Co-Workers

End of the year Gift ideas for your Co-Workers

If there is anything my mom taught me, it’s that showing your appreciation can go far. I always wanted to be like her. She is a nurse and would always be the one to bring snacks, personalized cups, jackets, birthday, and anniversary cards to her job. I remember when she used to take me to work, and all of her coworkers would tell me how wonderful my mom was and would tell me stories about how she was there for them during a tough time.

Gifts are no substitute for building trust and a reliable, genuine relationship in the workplace, but it can be a means of making a deposit into the emotional bank account you hold with others. Because we have so many coworkers, especially if you work in a school, it can be hard to do this in a cost effective way. When I first started teaching, I was in Oklahoma, which was 51st in the nation for teacher pay, so I was definitely on a budget. I found a way to treat my coworkers even though I was on a budget. To help you out, I have some questions to guide who to plan to give gifts to. I’ve also compiled some ideas to help you do the same, and of course, in true English Teacher fashion, it is punnier than ever. 

To Whom Should I Give Gifts?

Sometimes, we don’t give gifts because we operate under an all or nothing mentality (When I say “we” I am really talking about myself lol). You don’t have to get everyone a gift, and you don’t have to feel bad about it. I like to think through who I have the most proximity to, and who have helped me out throughout my semester.

Here are some categories that might be helpful parameters when thinking about who to give gifts to:

  • Your hallway, or your department
  • The administrative staff
  • The custodian who cleans your hallway
  • Your mentor/mentee
  • The front office staff
  • (and of course) your teacher best friend

Sometimes, I like to tear my gifts. For my department, and my teacher mentee, I like to splurge on a slightly larger gift because they are large contributors to my well being, and I work with them on a daily basis. I would do small gifts that I can make in bulk for my hallway and other personnel I come in contact with on a daily or weekly basis because they also contribute to the school as a whole, and I want to show my appreciation.

Bulk Gifts:

I am sure just a card would be a great way to show your appreciation, but sometimes being corny has its perks. I like to have a small gift like candy or a drink that you can buy in bulk, but I like to make it memorable with a gift tag with a pun wishing everyone well on their break. Even if puns are not in the realm of your personality, I would encourage you to at least write a note because the personalization is what makes it special and brings a smile to your coworker’s face. In case puns are your thing, then here is a list with their respective candy!

Have a TEA-riffic Holiday- an individual tea bag, or a bottle of tea.

Have a re-MARKER-ble Holiday- Sharpie markers. Everyone loves a good sharpie!

Have a holly JOLLY holiday- Jolly Ranchers

You’re a STAR, thank you for all your work this semester!- Starbursts

You’re un-BEAR-leavable! Have an excellent break!- Gummi Bears

Splurge Gifts:

Observation and listening are really your best friends when it comes to this. Splurge gifts are extra special when it shows that you listen and care about your coworker as a person, and not just as an educator. Here are some gifts that I got for my coworkers over the years.

Personalized mugs- If you know that your coworker, like many educators, are avid coffee or tea drinkers, having a mug with their name on it or their favorite quote would be a great fit.

Wellness Kit- If you know that an educator has had a stressful semester (like pretty much everyone at this point lol) a wellness kit might be helpful. I’ve included relaxing tea, a face-mask, their favorite snack, a candle, and a warm blanket. Anything that will help your coworker relax and encourage them to take some time for them.

Hobby Kits- I have coworkers who have side hustles, and hobbies outside of work. I like to get them something that will aid in that persuit. One of my coworkers have an Etsy store where she crochets cute gifts. I got her some yarn and a personalized card thanking her for all of her support. Think about what hobbies you have heard them talk about, and how you can aid them in it.

Thank you!

I know that the holidays can be stressful, and it isn’t the best time of year for many of us. Showing support and love in any way this season can truly positively impact someone’s life while simultaneously enriching yours. Don’t forge to follow me on TikTok: @stephaholic and instagram: stephaholic_11. I hope this was helpful, and I am so grateful you’re here. Remember, Mind, Body and then Classroom, in that order. See you next post!

Building Personal Habits for a Successful School Year

Building Personal Habits for a Successful School Year

I am just going to be transparent: I fell off on my healthy habits. I am inconsistent, some days I will make it to the gym or a long walk with my dog. Some days I will pour myself into bed right after work, sleep, and then wake up, eat, then go back to sleep. Some days I get up early and do some blog writing in the morning, and some days I will keep pressing snooze and miss my window all together. I know that this doesn’t sound too bad, but not only does it fail in comparison to past me, it is also significant because I attribute my healthy habits to why I am able to maintain a positive mindset while tackling significant challenges like teaching 9th graders and convincing them over and over again that they should read! I mean have you ever tried to convince a teenager to read, it is exhausting and it takes the utmost self care to maintain.

Last year Me was killin’ it! I would get up, meditate, journal, workout and walk my dog all before even getting dressed to go to work. I would come home and still, somehow, have energy to do all of my grad school work, and on Wednesday’s I would be in class until 8:00pm and then still have time to read a non-school related book. All while full time teaching. Life has taken a turn, and I look back on that woman as unrecognizable, amazed by her go-getter attitude and the discipline to wake up so early everyday. 

Curious about my own tendencies and habits, I, being me, wanted to learn the science behind this… How could I be so consistent in one season, and in the next, the habits that came to me with ease seem like herculean feats. I started my investigation by beginning the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, and I think I might have figured out the answer. 

According to his book, each habit that you have starts with a cue, something that signals to your brain that it is time to start a habit. Our life is littered with cues, so much so, that sometimes we don’t even know we are being triggered. Something that we think is a choice, may actually be a reaction to a cue.

Forreal y’all… not an ad, not sponsored, just really enjoying the book!

I started to think back to past bad-ass Stephanie, and I realized my environment completely changed, and one major cue was gone. I got married, so I moved in with my husband, so the life I designed to support healthy habits changed, and a huge thing that used to cue my habits, GRADSCHOOL, was over. I had no school work to design my self-care around. This led me to a journey to regain my healthy habits and intentionally design a new routine to fit my new life. I am going to share some of my research in hopes that it is helpful to you as you try and live your best life while educating in such a time as this!

  1. Identify your desired habits.

What is going to make your day run as smoothly as possible? What is going to pay off for your mental health in the long run? Do you know that exercise makes you feel amazing even if it is a pain to get to? Will it be so much better for your morning to have your lunch already packed? Do you reach the end of the day and realize you forgot to do something, so a planning routine will pay off? Identify what will make life easier and thus support your mental health.

  1. Schedule it, make it obvious, and make it easy!

In his book, James Clear explains the principles of behavior change. By nature, the entire world is lazy! Yes, it is literally a law. Everything from water to humans will take the path of least resistance, so you need to make sure that the desired habit is a part of that path. If you want to work out, make sure you have easy access to your gym or equipment. Set out your workout clothes and make sure your gym is on the way home. If you want to plan your day in the morning before work, set out your planner on your desk, so you see it right when you come into your classroom.

  1. Stack it and make it attractive!

Habits work best when you pair it with another, attractive habit. When James Clear says “attractive,” he means that you already like to do it. For example, I knew that after work I love to watch something to get my mind off of things, but I also know that I need to cook dinner right away to avoid the call of the drive-through and I also needed to be done cooking in time to work out, so I put a movie on my ipad, wash the dishes, and start dinner. I am not allowed to watch anything if I am not doing the dishes. Now I associate the chore with something I like, and it’s pretty fun (Well as fun as doing the dishes can be haha)!  Another technique is habit stacking. Habit stacking is doing a habit you are trying to build right after a habit you already have. For example, I write this blog everyday after I meditate and journal. I meditate and journal everyday without fail, so if that becomes a cue to write my blog, then I will begin to write everyday without fail.

  1. It isn’t about how long, it is about how often. 

This sounds simple, but for some reason when I read this it blew my mind! It doesn’t matter if you have been doing something for a year, if within that year you have only repeated the action 20 times. Building a habit and how it sticks is about repeating it enough, so the behavior moves to the habit part of your brain! This means you can start slow but often. For example, to build my morning routine, I used to just get up and sit on the couch, so I can get into the habit of getting up. Once I did it enough times, getting out of bed was automatic. Then I began to add in routine and since I did it everyday, it also became automatic. Now I feel completely off when I don’t complete it when in the past, I hated it!

This is an oversimplified explanation of what the book explains, but I hope that it was enough to get you started or inspire you to get the book. I think it is helpful in designing my environment and a life that serves me, but I also think it could be helpful for teaching. We try to instill healthy academic habits for our students. Understanding behavior change and the way habits are formed and maintained could benefit us greatly in assisting students to building their own academic habits. Maybe that will be my next post! Let me know if you’re interested. 

Thank you for making it to the end. And remember Mind, Body, and then Classroom. In that order!