It’s that time of year when we start thinking about how we can show our appreciation for our instructional assistants. For most special education teachers, your IA helps with instruction, behavior intervention, and life-skill support. They are your sounding board for new ideas, emotional support for difficult days and partners when celebrating successes. A generic gift such as a gift card, candle or mug just doesn’t seem to express the gratitude that is felt for this special person. But what to do if you are on a tight budget, have several IA’s or just don’t know what to give? I’m here to help!
Time Isn’t Money
I believe the best gift you can give your IA is time. Time during the course of the day to regroup, take a breather, chill. That is why I have created these gift certificates (download here). Make copies and include those certificates that you want to use and discards the ones you don’t. There are some that do involve a small output of money (cup of coffee, candy bar, soda), but distributed over time won’t hurt your wallet. I’ve also included some blank certificates that you can fill in with your own ideas. I think that any instructional assistant would love to receive this gift, and it can be used throughout the school year, reminding them that they are appreciated all year long.
Let’s Hang Out!
You don’t have to go out to hang out. Invite your IA(s) out (or over!) for coffee, drinks, a visit to a museum or any other activity you believe they would enjoy. If you are having them over, have a small gift to give them related to what you are doing (a box of special tea, nail polish etc.) Get to know each other in a non-professional setting.
Seen Any Good Movies Lately?
Though it’s getting kinda expensive these days, why not show your appreciation with a movie gift certificate (preferably for two). Include a box of popcorn or theater candy for an extra special gift.
I Hear You!
Give a gift that shows your IA that you hear them. Has your IA been complaining about paper cuts? Give some rich hand lotion (it should contain glycerin). Does your IA struggle with unpleasant smells in the classroom? (This always seemed to be an issue in our classroom, haha!) Give some roll-on perfume to keep in her pocket. (I say keep in the pocket as many students are sensitive to perfumes.) Maybe your IA is always misplacing her key or visuals. A lanyard with a clip (you could make one yourself) might make a perfect gift. The gift should reflect that you are tuned in to the needs of your co-worker and that you want to help make their job easier and better.
Hopefully these ideas can help you get the perfect gift for your instructional assistant(s). It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. What is important is that it’s thoughtful, thereby showing how much you care.