This week Americans will gather together and give thanks. Somewhere between the parade and the pumpkin pie, we will pause and appreciate all of the things we tend to take for granted.
I’m thankful for many things. I’m thankful that I enjoy the comforts of health, happiness, family and friendship. I’m thankful for the joy found between the pages of a really good book, the sweat after a refreshing run and the lingering taste of dark chocolate on my tongue. I’m thankful that I know what love is, and what it’s like to give it freely and receive it in return. I’m thankful for Schnauzer kisses and the Rocky Mountains.
And I’m really, really thankful to call myself your teacher.
Thank you to my first class of sixth graders. Ten years ago you taught me to learn, laugh and discover alongside you. You were kind enough to ignore my “first year teacher flubs” and patient with me while I studied the content and the curriculum I was supposed to help you master. You believed in me and this helped me believe in myself. You trusted me as your reading teacher, your yearbook sponsor and your outdoor ed. chaperone.
You showed me the importance of building relationships and taught me that a classroom is more than just a place to learn; it is a space to grow a community of learners.
You remembered me when you went off to high school and college to pursue your own interests and dreams. You continue to invite me into your life, through wedding invitations and graduation annoucements, through social networking and annual holiday reunions.
Thank you to all of my middle school students in between my first year and this year. I’m thankful to you for helping me get better (and stricter). You taught me that high expectations and powerful relationships co-exist. You helped me understand that teaching is about more than great lesson planning and content. Teaching is about consistency and purpose.
Thank you to my current sixth graders. Thank you for welcoming me into your school community. Thank you for trying new things and for taking risks. Thank you for missing me when I have a substitute, and for asking tough questions. Thank you for reading and writing every day, even on days when you’d rather be doing something else. Thank you for sharing your ideas with me and with each other.
Thank you for making my mornings meaningful, and for reminding me that despite budget cuts, burgeoning class sizes, and bureaucracy, I am still a part of one of the most rewarding and challenging professions in our country.
Thank you for sharing your middle school experience and a small slice of your life with me.
Thank you to my future students. Although I haven’t met you yet, I know you will force me to continue to reflect and grow. I’m still learning so much about how to be your teacher and I know you will help me continue to learn. As your technology skills exceed mine and you come of age in this century of constant innovation and change, you will inspire me to evolve and transform alongside you. To never remain stagnant. To grow and to risk and to advocate for better schools and better structures that will allow you to think creatively, flexibly and collaboratively with others.
On this Thanksgiving, I thank my students, past, present and future.