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!
For my readers who don’t live in Los Angeles, here’s what you should know about the last week:
It rained.A lot.For consecutive days.And in L.A., that is news in and of itself.
But on top of that, our Los Angeles public school teachers went on strike.The last time teachers resorted to a strike was back in 1989.I was in junior high school (back then it wasn’t called middle school like it is now), and the strike lasted 9 days.
(You can click here to read the post “Guide to the LAUSD Teachers’ Strike” on MomsLA.com for some additional information and photos about the strike.)
This strike is different.At least for me.This time around, I view the strike through the eyes of a former public school student, a former public school teacher, and a current public school parent.
So for the first time in his school career, my son didn’t attend school on days he was well.We discussed it as a family and we all decided that in support of our teachers, we weren’t crossing the picket line.(And in all honesty, there was little to no real learning going on at these under-staffed school campuses, and as the strike continued, student attendance continued to decline.)
Much of what our teachers are fighting for hasn’t changed since the last strike.Our teachers want what is best for our children.Smaller class sizes.Less testing and more teaching.More support staff, including a full-time nurse each day.
Our public school classrooms are marvels.I miss the magic of being in a classroom with a group of children and seeing that spark, seeing that light bulb go off, seeing the understanding.There is nothing like it.Our teachers don’t want to be outside their schools picketing.They want to be inside their rooms teaching.The sooner, the better.
And on that note, I’d like to share a post I wrote several years ago.I think during this time especially, it’s important to remember just how valuable our public schools are.Click here to read my essay, “6 Reasons Why We Should Be Thankful For Public Schools.”
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share with my readers a post I wrote for MomsLA back in 2013.That was the same year I left my twelve-year teaching career, and the year my son began his own twelve-year career as a public school student.
Click here to read “6 Reasons Why We Should Be Thankful for Public Schools.”
And readers, I’d love to learn what you’re thankful for.Let me know in the comments section.