Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Giving Thanks

I received a "Happy Thanksgiving" card in the mail yesterday. On the inside it said, "Appreciation: it changes your perspective about everything...Enjoy the Holidays!"

And then, as I sat here typing this blog post, the mailman came and I received another one. This one said, "Thanksgiving a time for sharing special joys - Sending warm thanks for your business and wishes for a Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and favorite traditions."

These cards came from two places of business - my financial planner and my insurance agent. I'm happy they are sending me thanks. They provide a service for me throughout the year and are showing me their appreciation. I prefer this type of card to the Christmas holiday card. I think this one is more heartfelt and focused.

I prefer Thanksgiving to Christmas for the same reason. The focus is on giving thanks and not on getting something.

Then I thought of teachers. Teachers also provide a service for us. We pay them (either with our taxes or tuition) to teach our children. Wouldn't it be unique to get a Happy Thanksgiving card from a teacher? What if a teacher sent a card to a parent saying, "Thank you for your child. They brighten my day every day Monday through Friday." Or, "Thank you for helping your child outside of the classroom which makes my work easier in the classroom." Or, "Thank you for trusting me to decide what is best for your child with regard to reading or math." Or, "Thank you for providing volunteer hours in my classroom." Or, "Thank you for taking such good care of your child - he comes to school happy, clean, and eager to learn most days."

Or, what if a student received Thank You cards from a teacher on Thanksgiving? Perhaps a card saying something like, "Thank you for always having a smile on your face." Or, "Thank you for working extra hard on that project." Or, "Thank you for making me laugh." Or, "Thank you for not giving up when you are struggling." Or, "Thank you for being a good friend to your classmate who is troubled." Or, "Thank you for making mistakes and learning from them."

It may seem like blasphemy to ask an already overworked, stressed out teacher to write Thank You cards, but I disagree. I think the Thank You's should come all year long, whenever a student or parent does something authentically pleasing to a teacher. Even a quick email saying thanks for a specific action would be appreciated.

And, of course, thanking teachers is nice, too. If a parent or student feels thankful for a particular teacher this holiday season (or anytime throughout the year), she or he should write the teacher a note or email expressing thanks. This will also help pave the way for students and parents to easily and openly communicate with teachers if something difficult arises during the year.

But remember, it must be authentic. Giving thanks because you are told to, misses the point.


  1. Just so you know, many of us are thankful for you! We are so very appreciative of your work for our children and keeping us informed via your blog.

  2. What a great idea, anything that shows students that we appreciate them as individuals improves the teaching and learning partnership.

  3. "thankless jobs produce the most thankful people" - Terry

  4. My son's 5th grade teacher just received $1,400 as a Christmas gift from the 17 families whose children she has been teaching in a Waldorf School since 2nd grade. Quite a present considering we are not a wealthy school! The teacher makes less than 30K after over 30 years of teaching and most of the parents scrimp and save to afford tuition in order to avoid the teach-to-the-test, worksheet burdened, highly stressed public school system. The money was collected in less than 5 days by one simple email sent to each parent: "Contribute what you can. Our teacher needs money, not soaps or candles or chocolate." Some parents were only able to give a few dollars, others a few hundred. But in the end what motivates us is the love and dedication our teacher has to our children. Having the same teacher for many years means you develop a REAL relationship: love and hate, joy and anger, agreements and a family, you stick together and work it out. By the way, the teacher made beautiful clay ornaments for all the parents, and gave a jar of organic sea salt to a few who carry the volunteer load for the rest. True thankfulness all around.