Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for a while. How can you beat family, friends, food, and football? The other great thing about the holiday is that I can celebrate it with students; we can all share in gratitude and have a community holiday to be excited about.
This year, at the suggestion of a colleague on my team, I led my homeroom in creating gratitude journals for the month of November. On each day of the month, we wrote the number of things we're thankful for that corresponds with the date, for example, 6 things on November 6th, 18 things on November 18th, etc... The hard part was trying not to repeat things on any day.
The first few days were easy. Last week, getting into the 20's, started to get difficult, even for me. One student in my room, though, consistently finished her list the fastest. This student probably has less "stuff" and fewer "things" to be thankful for than anyone else, but she was able to list hundreds of little things she appreciated in her life. Most of them were friends, family, and things that are free that each of us take for granted so often. "The leaves changing." "Fresh air to breathe." "My cousins hanging out with me yesterday."
I read through their lists on Tuesday before we left for break, and the thing that amazed me most was their increasing ability to recognize the things that we forget to be thankful for each day. Students who at first thought they could not possibly list so many things to be grateful for were writing: Eyesight, music, police officers, trees, air, lunch ladies, electricity... The list goes on and on.
I am thankful to have the opportunity to learn from my students every day, and to be continually inspired and challenged by them. I am thankful to be granted the immense responsibility and gift of caring for middle school students, and for being hired in a school that provides me with support. I am thankful for colleagues who help me to grow into a better educator, who laugh with me at the insanity, cry with me when things get hard, and celebrate alongside me on days when we're #winning. In the education world today there is so much to complain about, but it seems to me that today especially, it is a good time to proclaim that despite all the challenges, I am thankful to be a teacher.