I’m sorry I have to be the one to tell you this but the vendors are not your friends. You are not one “big family.” Maybe you can be “partners” but really even that is a distant dream most of the time.
Anything they seem to do for you is done with a firm look at the bottom line and how they can use you to make money. These are not gifts.
Seriously. You can’t afford to be this naive any longer.
That “award” certifying you as a really super X-brand teacher, that free conference registration- these are not things they do for you out of kindness1. This is for them. Every single bit of it, bought and paid for. Their return on investment is pre-calculated. If it didn’t make them money, they would not do it.
Don’t get me wrong. Take the awards, take the trips or whatever- just don’t forget that they are getting what they want out of you. Make sure you’re getting what you want out of them in return. This is a transaction, a business transaction. Make sure it’s an equal transaction.
Think about what you’re doing and what it is worth. Don’t sell yourself short2 and don’t ever mistake a business transaction for a favor. These people are not your friends.
And please, please, don’t sit there thanking them for using you like some obsequious lap dog. It makes you look stupid and further encourages them to regard K12 educators as easily manipulated pawns.