This school year has truly been unique! The uncertainty about how we would open…how students would respond to the new protocols…how families would support the decisions and protocols…and so many more! Even with all these concerns, worries, and uncertainties, one thing that I had to continuously remind myself is this…I need to be thankful for the opportunity that I have been given.
From what you hear on the news and everything, you would think that there isn’t anything to be thankful for in our world. Pandemic…rioting…racial tension…political divides…natural disasters…and toilet paper shortages. The list can go on and on. Yet, why don’t we just stop and reflect upon thinking about what this year has made us more aware of what we should be thankful for.
First of all, I am thankful for my family. My family has been an amazing support for me, especially my wife. She has been a true blessing for me and I know that I need to show my true appreciation for her even more! She has been there for me during my lowest and hardest times of this crazy year and I know there is no way I can ever repay her for what she has done for me. My parents, sister, and extended family have also been a true blessing for me. I have found a deeper gratitude for what they have done for me and I appreciate those moments that I have with them even more now than ever.
Secondly, I am thankful for my faith. This year has been truly hard in the sense of my faith. Not being able to attend mass in-person because of the pandemic has been challenging. I enjoy going to Mass and celebrating in the joy of the Eucharist. Yes, I know that Mass is again open, yet the comfort level for attending is still not that high so we haven’t gone yet. Why am I thankful though? I am thankful because I know that when I do attend in-person again, I will feel the amazing presence of Christ in the Eucharist more than ever before.
Thirdly, I am thankful for my colleagues. I have had many amazing colleagues from every school I have worked. Each one has guided me on my path of education by supporting me or by showing me effective and innovative ways to reach my students. I am so fortunate to have been surrounded by educators that see past curriculum and grades to recognize that students will truly want to learn only when they know that teachers care and support them. Many of my colleagues take that idea and place it first in their teaching. I am so thankful that I have seen so many educators strive to do the best for their students.
Fourth, I am thankful for my fellow educators that push me to be even better. These are not educators that I have worked with, but rather the educators that I have grown to know through Twitter and other professional learning networks (PLN). One PLN that has been an amazing resource for me has been the Teach Better Family. While having educators that I work with support me is wonderful, it is also important to have a group of educators from outside your building and area to throw ideas off of and to share with. This year has been so much easier for me because of the support of my fellow educators on Twitter. Because of my PLN, I was able to be on my first podcast and have been invited to do more. So thankful of the work that they do to make me better.
Fifth, I am so thankful for the community of school, Communion of Saints. The parents and community have been so wonderful to me during my first year there and even through the start of this year. From the birthday surprise last year, through the game nights of the pandemic, and through the support of educating their children, the parents and community have the best interests of the students in mind and I couldn’t be happier with where I am.
Sixth, I am thankful for the reason that I am an educator…the students! Each student has made me a better educator and I know I wouldn’t be where I am without them. This year I am thankful for the work that they are doing to keep each other safe. The extra protocols and safety measures that the school has implemented have been challenging, but the students have done a remarkable job in doing what is needed to stay safe. My class this year has been amazingly supportive of me and the other students. I feel that this group has been a close family and they want to see each other be the best they can be. Students have made me want to be better. They have made me want to challenge myself to do everything I can to make their learning experience the best it can be. I am so thankful for them.
Throughout all the struggles, challenges, and difficulties of this year, one thing that I have found to remain constant is that there is so much to be thankful for. If we constantly consume ourselves with the negativity, disruptions, and hardships that this year has given us, we will lose focus on the great things that make us who we are. Our family, support network, and the reason that we do what we do.
Let us change our focus to appreciate the moments, experiences, and reasons that make us happy. Don’t forget the great things. Be thankful for those around you and do whatever you can to make them better each and every day!