Two-by-Fours and Time

We give gifts to teachers a few times a year, even though both the kids are in high school now. (We studiously ignore the unwritten rule that teachers of teens don't like presents and/or don't deserve tangible thanks.) Here are four great times for sending a little something (note, edible, office supply):

  • The day after open house. Imagine working all day and being told you have to spend supper time and your own kids' bedtime projecting your best professional self to a hundred or so of your newest clients...and then get up before dawn the next day to wrangle those clients' kids some more. Yeah. A "thank-you-and-glad-to-meet-you" treat is the least I can do.This year's offering was a giant-sized personalized anti-bac gel along with a note saying that we are looking forward to working with them. (They loved it!)
  • Christmas
  • Teacher Appreciation
  • The last couple of days before summer, when wild kids, exams, paperwork, and just plain ol' fatigue might make even the most dedicated teacher doubt their calling.

When it came time to choosing what to send, I just looked to see what I had on hand.

Turned out, I had some wood and some time.

(And a husband willing to lend me his power tools and then patiently tutor me in their use.)

Which led to this...

Click image for larger view
and, more importantly, this.

It's a gift born from the union of this pin and my own experience teaching middle and high school.
Why, yes, eleven years after leaving the classroom,
I still have Shoe2 in easy reach.
(Shoe1 in my favorite bright blue
just disappeared one day...apparently
a student wanted it for home?
It's a cup, a slouch sock (80s, anybody?) and a
zipper bag of sand, hot-glued. I seem to remember
mailing my older sister--also a teacher--the mates.
Back then, I kept this real high-top tennis shoe on my desk, filled with "loaner" pens and pencils. To stock it, I picked up every pen or pencil I found in the hall, and soon my middle- and high-school students were bringing me "booty" rescued they'd from the janitors' dustmops. Unasked, mind you. (Soon they starting making me pens and bringing me pens from vacation like the ones in the picture, packed just like that the day I left!) Rather than be a hard case and make kids beg for writing utensils or paper, I chose to give them what they needed so they could focus on what we were doing.  (Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, anybody? I figure having the required supplies belongs at least on the "safety" level.)
And anyway, teacher-as-ally (and advocate) always made more sense to me than teacher-as-pain.

The chalkboard space will have "Thank you" written on it when we give it, but then the recipient can choose what she wants to write: Mrs. Whatsit. Happy Monday! Be Sweet! Loaners Here. Whatever.

It's a fun, cheap project. This wood was free--a new house in our neighborhood had a burn pile full of very muddy, uneven offcuts that C made short work of with his electric saw. The paint is from stash, except for the not-quite-white. I needed some anyway, though, since it's so useful.

Some leftovers and some castoffs
                  plus one balmy Sunday afternoon spent "renting" my husband's tools,
                                                      plus one day painting...
                et voila: 
a beachy, shabby pen holder for any teacher's desk, no matter how old their students are.

Want to see what one of my KIDS did with this idea for a favorite teacher? 

The Learning Curve
I usually let my skills catch up with my ambitions, 
and this project was no different. 
Here's my "report card."
  • New Skills: drill press, belt sander, distressing anything, chalkboard paint on wood (which has a grain!)
  • New Ideas: 
    • C suggested I use his heavy, unwieldy belt sander UPSIDE-DOWN on the table to spare my damaged rotator cuffs. (Yes, both. Sigh. Verdict: It worked! 
    • I wanted several colors peeking through, so I tried fudging it a bit by splotching color on where I thought it might look nice, before I added the white undercoat and blue top coat. Verdict:  It worked!
    Rather than paint full coats of four or five colors
    --and have to wait while each one dried--
    I tried splotching colors here and there, then
    sanding strategically to get it so show up!
  • Next time: 
    • Ask for more wood than I think I'll need. Even though I made spares, I want to make more!
    • Make the holes juuuust a bit bigger.
    • Be more careful of chalkboard paint overspray from the FIRST object sprayed...oops.
    There's clear Con-Tac paper on top with a hole
    cut for the "blackboard. I used its edges
    to grab and secure a shop towel all the way around.
    Better late than never, right?

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