Thank You For Being You

Each year, our class created a thankful “quilt.”


There are parts of teaching I really miss.

Mainly, all the “extras.” The out-of-the-box, beyond-the-textbook things we used to do.

Like the way we celebrated Thanksgiving.

When I taught kindergarten, our class always hosted a multicultural feast. Hot dogs, turkey, spaghetti, sushi, mashed potatoes, empanadas – they all made their way to our feast. We made placemats and table centerpieces, and lined up our desks in long rows. 

When I taught fourth and fifth grade, we still celebrated with a feast. But, for a few years, I did something extra. 

I wrote each of my students a short letter about why I was thankful for each of them.

As a teacher, it’s so easy to get caught up in what went wrong, and easy to overlook when things are going smoothly.

But, it’s just as important to pay attention to those moments.

I don’t know if my students remember those letters, but I do. 

Here are a few passages from the notes I wrote over the years. And maybe they will serve as inspiration to you. Make sure the people in your life know why you are thankful for them.

I am thankful for your participation. You are always eager to read aloud, answer questions, and share from your journal each morning. 

I am thankful for your attentive listening. During lessons and discussions, I notice how closely you listen. I don’t have to worry that you’re not paying attention.

I am thankful for your positive attitude. You come to school each morning with a smile and a good mood. I really appreciate that.

I am thankful for your sense of humor. Your comments often make me smile, and sometimes laugh out loud. And there are days when we all really need to laugh. So thank you for that.

I am thankful for you taking responsibility for your actions. Even when you have chatted or done something you weren’t supposed to, you are quick to apologize and get right back to work. I appreciate that.

I am thankful for your positive attitude. You never give up. You are always trying to do better and learn more. I noticed that fractions were a bit tricky for you at first, but you kept practicing, and they got easier. You did it! I hope you know I’m proud of you for sticking with it.

I am thankful for your smile. You greet me each morning with a smile, you smile at me throughout the day during our lessons, and end the day with a smile. Your smile means a lot to me. Thank you!

I am thankful for your kindness. You are a good friend to your classmates. You offer to help them when they are having difficulties with a certain lesson, like the fractions and decimals we were doing. It was very generous of you to give up a recess to stay inside and help a friend with math.  

I am thankful for all your computer help. You are our class computer expert. You help your classmates when they are having trouble with the computer. And you’ve helped me with the blue computer when it wasn’t printing. You are my computer hero!

I am thankful for the way you help your classmates. You are a fast and accurate mathematician. I really appreciate the way you walk around our classroom to offer assistance to your classmates who are still working on their math assignment.

I am thankful for your hugs. I love hugs, and it’s such a nice treat to receive one of your hugs. Sometimes you surprise me and all of a sudden I just have two arms wrapped around me! I hope you know how much your hugs mean to me!


I recently finished reading Janice Kaplan’s The Gratitude Diaries.  A friend had suggested it to me after a coworker had recommended it to her.  I read the summary on the back, was intrigued but still hesitant.  So I checked out a copy from the public library.

Soon, though, I found my library copy full of Post-Its.  I then went ahead and bought my own copy — a copy in which I could highlight passages and stick as many Post-Its as I wanted.

I like to think of myself as a person who regularly appreciates all the blessings in my life, large and small, and everything in between.  But still, I found this book helpful, and it made me really stop and think about things from a different perspective.

Here are a few passages I’d like to share with you:

Because it’s not dependent on specific events, gratitude is long lasting and impervious to change or adversity.”

Find a reason at least once a day to say thank you.  Focus on the positives instead of the problems.  Tell your spouse why you appreciate him.”

Instead of worrying about the past or fretting about the future, we could all do ourselves a favor by taking stock of the present.”

I’d never thought of thanking myself and being grateful to … me.”

Instead of beating myself up about what my body couldn’t do, I felt proud of what it could.

When you can’t do everything, you remind yourself to be grateful for what you can do.”

Gratitude helps you find meaning – and some version of contentment – in the chaos.”

“… gratitude didn’t depend on the right events or even the right decisions, but how I processed them.  Gratitude gave you back control.”

I was also incredibly intrigued when I read about gratitude and its connection to health.

Inflammation was a stress response of the immune system…”

“…immune system may respond to emotions.  Worry, anger, or fear send those same white blood cells out … Feeling gratitude could actually counter that effect – and keep our immune systems from spiraling out of control.”


And now readers, I’d love to hear one thing for which you’re grateful.  If you’d like to share, please do so in the comments section.