Thankfulness is a way of life all year long. As a student, however, I think I caught what teachers taught by how they lived their lives. I want to be that person who models everlasting love and joy for every human being I get to know! So, today is such a day! On this day, I like to share with each student in the class why I'm thankful for them. Here is how I do it.
Now, certainly, it is hard to get kids to listen at a time like this but I like to make a point here. Kids will bring presents for one another sometimes around Christmas. But do they understand that sometimes the greatest present is for someone to just want to be around you? Do they know that it is a present when someone says, “I'm glad you're in my life?”
Do kids know and appreciate what a kind and truthful word means? Do they see adults – especially teachers – living and loving other people with kindness and love?
Let Them See Thankfulness in Me
In my classroom, I hope they do and today will be one of those days. So, today, I'll have the kids in and I'll tell them that before we do our fun activity, I want to help them know who they are. Each of them is a masterpiece made before time began for good works and each of them has many unique talents and gifts.
“For each of you, I'm going to share with you at least one thing I've noticed that is awesome and unique about each of you.”
Then, I'll proceed to go around the classroom in a strategic way. And yes, I typically design it so that I end up with the most talkative students last. (Yes, they listen with rapt attention.)
Truth Only, Please
If you choose to do this– please hear me out on this — you can only tell the honest truth as you see it. Don't make stuff up.
But remember that every child is a beautiful and awesome creation and that each of them is remarkable in many ways.
I do not compliment physical aspects unless somehow it relates to an attitude or something they do. Physical things like beauty can fade with time but persistence, encouragement, smiling, and kindness can make the world a beautiful garden over a lifetime. So, I look at the traits that students show and I will have a list.
I have been excited as I showered this morning and thought through my students. I've imagined what I want to say and have seen their faces.
What does this model?
This isn't just a “feel good” activity, though. I'm modeling quite a few things including:
- What are admirable traits? (Do kids know the character traits that are admirable?)
- What are the results of those traits? (I try to be future focused by pointing where that particular trait can lead in life.)
- What are words we can use to give a genuine compliment?
- Can students learn to appreciate their differences and talents when they are assembling a team? (I'll say things like – when you join a team, you may be quiet but you notice everything and if you'll contribute or have someone bring you out, the team will be stronger.)
- Why do we spread kind words?
- I'm modeling that it isn't that hard and the power and energy that is felt when we're honestly appreciative of one another.
Problems Will Not Stop the Flow of My Thankfulness
These are challenging times. We have finished our fifteenth week of in-person school. Aptly, we started this school year with a week of prayer for all of our staff and parents. The impact has been felt as we've been blessed with only two students who have had covid19 and no spread. We have had two support staff members also, but again, no spread. What a supernatural blessing!
We've had quarantines here and there – with our principal and his family starting the first two weeks of school in quarantine. But each day we have joy and laughter and fun. Each moment we remember how grateful we are. Even carpool is a joy these days. We're so happy to see each other.
Yes, things are hard. For me, I've had some pretty awful skin cancer surgery (I'll talk about later), my precious brother in law died of cancer a week and a half ago, my aunt who I'm named after has covid, and the dear pastor we love so much has a recurrence of cancer. Political unrest and an un-unified nation adds to the stress. And I have friends and family suffering and struggling throughout the world.
And I don't have to know your problems to know you've got problems. We all have them. Sometimes it feels like too much.
Choices in the Storms of Life
And yet, even in this, I'm going to choose to be a light of encouragement. I'm going to choose to be thankful and hopeful because I have a joy within me that cannot be destroyed by a pandemic or problems or even pain.
And today, I'm going to share that joy. Because every one of my students is a precious and beloved child and I'm going to tell them today and even better – I'll show them.
Tell People Why You're Thankful for Them – Start Today!
I encourage you to tell others why you're thankful for them. If this pandemic has taught us anything it is the brevity and beauty of life. It is that we do not know when our time will come or the time of those we love so we must make every moment a memory worth making.
And that will be me today.
And hopefully, for a few of my students, they'll remember the day their teacher told them just how thankful she is for each of them. And I have colleagues to appreciate as well.
This world is full of people we're thankful for.
I think it is time to stop counting our problems and pain and start counting our purposes and possibilities.
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
- Discover 10 stress-busting secrets for healthy teachers. What simple routines will help you handle the stress?
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- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)