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Happy World Teacher Day!
More eloquent words than mine have already been written on the challenge and the reward of teaching. Suffice to say it's one toughest jobs around, and one of the most under-appreciated.
Teachers are also notoriously hard to shop for! What are you supposed to buy them? A day off? Can't be done.
The most thoughtful gifts—or the handiest items to buy yourself if you're the one teaching—are ones that will actually make a teacher's day more manageable. There's not a product in the world that'll make Susie pay attention in pre-Calc, but there are plenty of gadgets out there to help cope with the day to day.
Since teachers need to wake up two or three hours before the rest of us 9–5'ers, there's little point in making a whole pot of coffee. It's going to be cold by the time you wake up for your office job. You could go the K-Cup route, but if you or the teacher in your life take the flavor of your coffee more seriously, a single serve brewer is the answer.
The popular Hamilton Beach 49981A is one of the most affordable and highly rated single serve brewers on Amazon, plus it's tall enough for an insulated travel mug. Speaking of which, you'll probably want one of those as well.
USB Thumb Drive
If you're one of those teachers that stores their entire curriculum on a single flash drive, please stop reading this and back up your data. Upload it all to Google Drive, print out every worksheet, or do anything in between. That's your whole career in there, and flash drives get lost all the time.
They also fail all the time, so you'll want a high quality drive. Not the one they're giving away for free at the bank. Amazon's top seller and top rated flash drive is the SanDisk Cruzer, which is available in lots of different sizes and comes from basically the first name in removable storage.
But still, back up your data.
Good Pencil Sharpener
A teacher without a good pencil sharpener is just embarrassing. Like a chef with dull knives.
The X-ACTO SchoolPro is the Rolls-Royce of electric pencil sharpeners. Its relatively quiet motor is less disruptive than other electric or manual sharpeners. That motor drives a helical cutter that results in rounded pencil tips—bad for art class, but great for safety.
You also get a large shavings canister that won't need to be emptied as often, and the whole thing is covered by a 10-year warranty (2 years for the cutting mechanism).
Students come in all shapes and sizes. But for all this diversity, the one thing tying them together, is they're all so sick!
What's with these kids? Constantly infecting their teacher with freshly evolved infections of every kind. Wiping their unwashed hands on creative new surfaces. It's a wonder there aren't more substitutes. How's a teacher supposed to get any work done?
An air purifier is a decent first line of defense. The GermGuardian AC4825 has a charcoal filter, HEPA filter, and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to protect you or the teacher in your life from whatever's "going around."
We were tempted to recommend a "presentation remote" here. You know, those clickers you can use to advance your PowerPoint slides. Those are fine, but according to the real live teachers we know, a wireless mouse is just way better.
With a wireless mouse like the simple Logitech M185, you can not only advance your slides, but easily swap between documents, related videos on YouTube, or other applications. The best presentation remotes can do this too, but with a wireless mouse you can use any flat surface—the wall, the desk, the back of some kid's head—to quickly accomplish the same thing.
Imagine you've been in front of a classroom all day. Feet and back aching, voice gone, morale broken, and you walk in your house to find dinner... done!?
That's the promise of a slow cooker. Plop your ingredients inside when you wake up, come home to a finished meal and a house that smells delicious. And since the meal is cooked slowly, meat comes out impossibly tender and all those complex flavors have plenty of time to co-mingle.
You'll want one with a timer, like the one we've linked. That way, if your recipe calls for six hours of cooking, but you're stuck at school for eight, the slow cooker will automatically swap to warming mode on time.
Here's something the rest of us take for granted: sitting in a chair.
Man do teachers have to stand up a lot. All day, hours of writing on the board, using the overhead projector, leaning over shoulders, lunch duty, recess duty—it never stops. Oh, and God forbid the principal walks in during the two minutes you're sitting at the big teacher's desk. Forget it, might as well wear a scarlet letter "L" for "lazy" the rest of the year. There goes tenure.
Comfy shoes help, but we also recommend an electric heating pad. It'll loosen all that lower-back tightness to July levels of comfort. At least... until the next day.
The stress of teaching is legendary. Half the time it's the kids, half the time it's the administration. Either way, every teacher comes home needing a drink.
But maybe today was a quiz day, or movie day, or a field trip, or for some other reason it's not necessary to drink the whole entire bottle. In that case, you'll want your wine to last until the blessed weekend, and you might want to consider the Vacu Vin Wine Saver. This pump removes all the air from your bottle, preserving the wine, and automatically recorking it with a vacuum-seal stopper.
And for the... shall we say "volume drinkers," might we also recommend this automatic bottle opener?