Why You Should NEVER Turn Down a Treat!

My cooperating teacher (way, way back when) told me NEVER to turn down a birthday treat from a student.  At first I thought she just had a helluva sweet tooth.  She was, after all, an amazing baker, but that wasn’t it at all.  She went on to explain that this small gift is sometimes the only thing a student has to give all year.  I can still remember how this insight struck me at the time and I thought, wow, she is right!

Many schools handle this differently.  Some ban students from leaving their classrooms to hand out extra birthday treats at all, but in a school of over 700 students, and no ban, birthday treats are almost a daily occurrence and I still never turn one down.  I smile, thank them, and ask students to please put it on my desk so I can enjoy it after school.  As the day ends, I either discretely toss the treat, put it in my desk for a rainy day, or take it to the teacher’s lounge.

In a society that sometimes seems driven by greed and want, it is refreshing to reinforce students who yearn to give.

How do you handle treats or gifts from your students?

Heather Crockett

Heather is AOE’s Dean of the Institution and an expert in differentiation, curriculum development, and assessment. She is a veteran teacher in the art room and at the graduate level.


  • Heather,
    We have the same policy at our school as you do, so I also have a lot cupcakes landing on my desk. I love how you put this, and it really gives us some “Food for Thought” no pun intended….

  • Lisa

    Students come by almost daily at my school as well. But I DO have a sweet tooth, so I lovingly accept and devour each and every treat I receive! I always appreciate the gesture but I never thought of it the way you put it. Thanks for that insight!

    I have about 430 students. Many low income. So as a thank you for their treat, or just a birthday gift if they didn’t bring treats, I give them a pencil. Artists always need pencils right?! I collect “dollar store” packages. They usually have great seasonal themed packages of 12 for only $1. I figure it’s a great way to say “Happy Birthday” in person to each and every student, even if they couldn’t afford to bring treats.

    •  What a cool idea, Lisa! I get a ton of treats, too. I always accept them, but if I don’t want one, I just put it in the teachers’ lounge. It always disappears!

    • Giving a pencil in return is a wonderful idea!  I am sure there are some good finds at “back-to-school” time too!

  • Jen

    I just had a student bring me a treat today. I gave her a hug, let her choose something out of my prize bin. Set her treat on my desk. And secretly discarded it later. I don’t always get treats from students, but when I do I let them see that I am so happy for them and their special day. But if I let myself indulge in every cupcake, I’d be one. :) Ignorance is bliss to the little ones.

    • So true! I was getting so many cupcakes but also trying to eat heather so I had the one bite rule.

  • ElizT.

    Very insightful! I completely agree. I think the rejection of a small offering could negatively affect a student. Thanks for this reminder.

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