Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why Thankfulness Matters

Have you ever tried to actively nurture an attitude of Thankfulness? While dwelling on gratitude, it is difficult to keep a bitter heart. With one's mind filled with thoughts of blessing, petty complaints of life begin to separate from true concerns and hardship. I hope that throughout the year, the opinions expressed on the Teaching Underground reflect these legitimate concerns about public education and not petty complaints. Despite the many problems in our systems, the positives certainly outweigh the negative. So with a grateful heart, here's what I'm thankful for this year:

1) Student Feedback- I used to get bitter that elementary teachers get all of the gifts. Today I recognize the many gifts that students give me every year that have no monetary value or tangible uses. Just last week I found an anonymous notecard in my teacher mailbox. "You have taught me a lot this year and I really enjoy your class. Thank you for giving me a seventh period I can look forward to and where I don't want to fall asleep." If you're a student reading this post, a kind word of encouragement-- written or otherwise-- beats any gift you can give. (Unless it's like a $100 gift card to a nice restaurant or a new iPad, or something like that.)

2) A Dynamic Workplace- No two days are the same. It can be a challenge to deal with changing student moods, variable schedules, technology failures or other unforeseen disruptions, but it forces you to keep your mind active and engaged. Teaching requires a delicate balance of thorough planning and flexibility. Practicing this daily is invigorating. Today, a student brought a four-foot air cannon, decorated as a "Canon" camera to class. It was a physics project. Too large to be ignored and too enticing not to play with, I figured out a way to integrate the model into my lesson for the day on "Motivation." I don't often have air cannons in my class, but when I do, we certainly use them.

3) Excellent Colleagues- Some teachers need to go. I could name a few, but in a building with over one-hundred teachers, the balance is clearly not in their favor. If you or one of your children has suffered a year with a bad teacher this is no consolation, but most of the people I work with are great. I learn from them everyday. This year I think I've had more opportunities to interact with other teachers in my building and system than any time in the last ten years. When good teachers connect, good things happen. I'm thankful for the many great colleagues in my building, in my system, and increasingly across the country.

4) The Internet- I enjoy the idea that my ideas connect with a larger population through the Teaching Underground. When we started, I thought maybe a handful of friends and colleagues would read, but I continue to appreciate the wide reach of our blog. Through it, we've discovered numerous other educators with similar passion and motivation and in the process we've become much less "ignorant" as a result.

I've also discovered a Professional Learning Community of my own.  Usually I'm the only Psychology teacher at my school. There's only one other full-time Psychology teacher in our county and we meet to share ideas and communicate by e-mail. But this year, using Twitter, I've connected with over a dozen other Psychology teachers by participating in #psychat. I take away something new for my classroom almost weekly through the combined knowledge of other participants.

It goes without saying that I'm thankful for a short break. I hope that all of you can find the time to connect with family and friends, or perhaps just to get some time to relax and reflect. Enjoy the break and enjoy your return to work. It's still work, but there's much to be thankful for in that.

No comments:

Post a Comment