It’s always nice to receive a gift but when a total stranger makes the time and effort to send you something nice just to cheer you up, because they know you’re a teacher too, then that makes it all the more special.
Several months ago I ‘committed’ to sending a buddy box to a teacher I was linked with through Twitter. We exchanged a few messages to find out each other’s likes and dislikes but that was it, until the buddy boxes were underway. I really liked shopping for my buddy’s box and I tried to capture some of her interests which included literature and baking. There is no set amount regarding much I should/shouldn’t spend so I just went with the flow and bought some little bits and pieces that I thought might cheer her day when she opened it. I found some of the bits in cheaper stores like Home Bargains and some other things came from charity shops or local stores. I wrapped each item individually and popped a little tag on each with a bit of a clue to what might be inside.
In fact it took me forever to package it all up but it was so much more fun than marking a set of books! It all went in a shoe box, which I also wrapped – 2 sets of books could wait – and then sorted out the postage.
I found Hermes best for this as Royal Mail charge a fortune. My local shop round the corner does the Hermes package service so it was really convenient for me as I find that Post Offices often don’t understand that teachers need to send packages sometimes and that we are often at work well past their closing time. Anyway, off it went and I think my new found buddy appreciated it.
Then a couple of weeks later, I received a little ‘teaser’ by way of a tweet and I knew my turn was coming.
The box arrived at my school and there was great excitement, starting with the school office who are always quick to pick up on anything that’s slightly out of the ordinary. I was told via email that a ‘package’ had arrived ‘which doesn’t look boring’ so I knew that it must be the buddy box. I took it to the staff room over lunch and opened it, revealing a lovely decorated box with lots of lovely gifts all wrapped up inside…cue ‘is it your birthday?’ comments. Of course it wasn’t my birthday (birthdays at my age don’t bring that much excitement) but I had to explain that the box of gifts was effectively from a random stranger I had found via Twitter – and there we are, always telling the kids to be aware of having anything to do with strangers on the Internet!) I think my colleagues were a little envious and were amazed by how well the ‘mystery person’ seemed to find things that fitted my personality; you can’t go wrong with glow in the dark glasses, teacher stickers, a guardian angel and a worry doll, to name but a few of the lovely gifts I had the joy of opening.
Several week later I received a lovely surprise card from my buddy which really made me smile and gave me that little bit more strength to make it to the end of term. We have stayed in touch and I like to feel we are looking out for each other. It’s been really good to ‘meet’ someone new and share teaching experiences (and gifts) and feel valued.
Whilst clearing out the cupboards in my recent office move, I came across a book which was full of ways to make a difference to people’s lives and I plan to do a few things to cheer up some of my colleagues next term. The Buddy Box is one small way to make a difference to a teacher’s day/week/term and I am looking forward to making many more boxes in the future.
Teacher wellbeing is so important but support doesn’t need to come from just our own colleagues we see day to day. The buddy box has helped me to see that there is a much wider support network out there of teachers who genuinely care about each other. We are not alone and there is no better way to show this than with a Buddy Box.