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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Advice to New Teachers: Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

One of the greatest dilemmas you are likely to encounter revolves around the question of what to do when a student gives you a gift of food.

The first consideration is whether or not the food is homemade or store-bought.  Avoid homemade at all costs!  I know, I know: "Aw, how sweet.  She baked me cookies."  That's what one of my colleagues thought.  The next time anyone saw her she was running across the Golden Gate Bridge in a tutu screaming about how owls secretly control the Federal Reserve.  You might be OK if a homemade treat is to be shared among your entire class.  Unless of course it's from one of those "loner types."  To be on the safe side, never accept homemade anything from a student who makes a habit of sitting in the back row and wearing a hood.

Pre-packaged food is generally safer, but you should still think carefully about the craziness factor of the student giving the gift.  I once received a package of chocolates from a truly insane student whom I helped with a scholarship essay.  She got the scholarship, which suggests (A) that the gift was meant in a spirit of benevolence and (B) the standards of our scholarship committee should be revisited.  Nevertheless, I felt uneasy about tearing into the package, until I realized that these were raspberry-filled chocolates, which immediately put my mind at ease: No way in HELL was I going to eat those things.

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