Westward Movement

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Being Thankful

Yesterday my students, student teacher, teacher's assistant and I shared a few traditional Thanksgiving treats. The adults each brought a dish, and a few kids brought others. Before we ate, I asked the kids to write what they were thankful for. Over the years, I've had my student do similar activities in honor of a new year, Thanksgiving, the end of a grade, etc. I always have several students who write that they are most thankful for a PSP, a Wii, money ... you get the picture. Yesterday, not one of my students mentioned an object. One stated that he was thankful for enough money to put food on their table, especially for Christmas, his favorite holiday. A lump formed in my throat as several mentioned being thankful for their teacher ... because she cares so much and doesn't give up on them. The best paycheck ever.

I've shared in prior posts that most of my students live in conditions I can't even imagine. Many live with extended families totaling six or more in one-two bedroom apartments. A few have their only meals at school - the free breakfast and lunch provided on all school days. I worry about them over the holidays and summer break. They witness drug transactions and violence daily. I've had several students over the years watch someone die on the streets, and a few see someone die in their home. I'm constantly amazed at their perseverance, at their ability to find the joy when they face such adversity. What my students wrote yesterday brings home that very message.

Here are a few quotes from the kids:

  • I'm thankful for the food that I eat, the family I have, the school where we can learn new things. I'm thankful for the clothes we wear. I'm thankful that I play and for family that loves me.
  • I'm thankful for having a family and a place to live.
  • I'm thankful for honest classmates and a great family.
  • I'm thankful for the life I have.
  • I'm thankful that I'll be with my mom.
  • Finally, one that touched me so ... I'm thankful for freedom and for living in a good condition, for peace in the world, and for my lovely teacher.

We finished eating and sharing our thanks, and then I kept my students after school for 10 minutes - they were so incredibly talkative and were not paying attention to instructions. Ah the life of a teacher! I'm glad I had them write their thanks before keeping them after!

Happy Thanksgiving. 

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