A few years ago, I did some work with the state in regards to the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP). I was on a committee that read through possible questions, looking for bias, fairness, appropriate levels, grammar errors, etc. The young gentleman from the test company led the group in this endeavor. Sitting at the head of the table, with me on his left, whenever someone had a suggestion or comment, our leader would always say thank you. Over and over. I wonder how many times he said those two words during our day.
That stuck with me, and I think of it often when I conduct class discussions. As simple as the two words are, it's something we do not do enough. In fact, I've realized that one cannot say it too much.
Appreciation is an art that takes commitment and, at times, practice. We often get so busy thinking about what we do not have and what we cannot do that we fail to capture life's beauty. But if we commit to taking the time to stop and give thanks, we see that our world is full of abundant blessings at every turn.
- Have I given thanks to the school's PTA for their support of the Math League, this year? For the yearly allowance it provides for teachers? For the monthly snacks and lunches? For the Teacher Appreciation lunch? For the incredible craft show fundraiser they organize and execute every year?
- Did I thank my principal for his continued support of our classroom and others? Did I recognize his ability to listen to my concerns and followup on them? Does he know that I appreciate his leadership and insight?
- Do I thank my peers when they work with me for a project? Do I thank them for their camaraderie and general pleasantness?
- Do I thank my students for their attention and perseverance? Do they know that I appreciate their fun spirit and their laughter? Do they know how much I love them when they show me they care?
- Have I shared my gratitude for the parents of students in my classroom? Do they know that I notice their support for their kids? Have they heard how much I appreciate their trusting me with their precious children?
We need to look for ways to show our appreciation even in the hardest situations. It's easy to say thank you for niceties, but are there other times we could employ the practice?
When we give thanks for our many blessings, the trivial inconveniences and the trials of life are greatly diminished. When things don't go just as you expected and you don't get just what you want, give thanks anyway. I have even found that when life-changing moments happen, it is usually because there was a struggle beforehand that led to the joy of the experience.