I can remember as a kid walking into school with like 7 gift bags full of goodies for my teachers. I always felt like I was the only kid being forced to do this by my mother. Of course, I was not, it just felt like it wasn’t a thing and I was embarrassed to do it once I got older. I can now say as a mom and a high school teacher, those tokens of gratitude are amazing. I can also say that I appreciate my mom’s generosity both then and now. She is seriously amazing.
So today our Advent card read “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for GOD loves a cheerful giver.” Corinthians 9: 7-8 Write your teachers a Christmas card and prepare their gifts.
Our kids are still the age that doing this is fun and they look forward to it. So tomorrow they will walk into school and hand out their teacher gifts. Hopefully this will bring joy to their teachers day and help them to feel appreciated, as they should!
I handed out my “presents” to my kids today as well. At the end of each semester (as I now teach semester classes) I always write each of my students a card. I have never not done this in 19 years of teaching. It’s probably my favorite “practice” as a teacher. I am a firm believer in the hand written note. I also believe that people should know where they stand with you, especially when it’s good! Finally, I think everyone needs to feel noticed and this is one way I can do this for my students. As an aside, I think kids really need to feel noticed right now, maybe more than ever. It’s been a hard year for them, for everyone.
About 4 years ago I was at a wedding of a former student and another former student approached me. He pulled out his wallet and out of it came the note I had written him his senior year in high school. He carried it in his wallet. In the years since he had graduated we had never discussed the letter other than the thank you he said when I handed it to him. I had no idea that the words I had written there had meant so much to him. I was taken aback when he showed it to me. He said he reads it often (the reason it’s in his wallet). This was a grown man, a college graduate who is now married with children and this letter meant a lot to him years after he received it. It was in that moment that I vowed to NEVER miss handing out my letters.
Some kids may throw them in the trash, some may put it in the bottom of their bag and never read it again until they clean out their backpack at the end of the year. But if one kid every semester is impacted this way, it’s 1,000% worth it. In it, I include a list of my “lessons to live by.” Another student, who is still walking the halls told me that he framed it and has it in his room so he can read the lessons and be reminded of important things. I love that so much.
I am always a little sad at the end of each semester because I won’t get to see these kids each day in class like I have for the past 4 months. I have enjoyed my students so much this semester. I almost felt like a brand new teacher at times. I think that was because of a combination of factors, the biggest being that I didn’t get to finish my semester with my kiddos last year and that felt really strange.
While this school year has been strange and hard at times, it’s also been pretty incredible. Our students really want to be in class, they had a different level of appreciation for being in school and they made my semester super enjoyable. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to have taught everyone of them.
One of my lessons to live by is to make eye contact when you are walking in the halls or at a store and nod or say hello, smile. I hate when I teach someone and then see them weeks later in the hall and they walk past me like I don’t exist. I’m happy to report that after class today I saw several of my students in the hall and all of them smiled and said hello. So…at least, I taught them something this semester!