“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.”Parker Palmer, my favorite writer on teaching
I heard someone say once that if we lean really hard into our deep-seated beliefs, they often give way. While that has been true for many things, others don’t shift, no matter how hard I lean and kick and punch.
One of these is gratitude.
I circle back to it again . . . and again.
It’s somehow part of my DNA, like teaching is.
I decided to quit teaching my first year out, and even left a couple of times, but here I am fourteen years later, waking up on and putting on my teaching shoes.
Gratitude and teaching intersect in each of the students I’ve taught. They were and are my teachers more often than I was theirs.
I’ve only ever had one student in which I didn’t find something to like. It was my first year, and I didn’t yet know how to dig.
I am thankful him, for the lesson plans that go so wrong once so they can go right the next time.
I am thankful phone conversation with my sister after school. These talks have more than once helped me zoom up and out and find the courage to start teaching again tomorrow.
I am thankful for Ralph, the best one. “If you like to write, just write,” might have been the kindest and most helpful thing anyone’s ever said to me. For I love writing, but maybe I love the teaching of writing even more.
I am thankful for the Nebraska Writing Project and Robert daring me to say, “I am a writer.” There have been few deeper graces for me–I love daring students to say it too.
I believe that this gratitude is powerful stuff. So is teaching. Both speaks of the stuff that shimmers, somehow holy, peeking through the dingy and the hard. I learned gratitude and teaching at first from my parents, Jim and Holly. I’m thankful for them.
Sometimes I don’t feel all that thankful for teaching, but in the long haul, the thanks always come. This is the time of the year where I like to share out my gratitudes . . . writing dares leading up to Thanksgiving and all that. This year I will share a series of never-before seen essays I wrote on teaching. They are precious to me, so much so they ‘ve been in the notebook for longer than I usually hold things. Something about the classroom calls forth a deeper care in me–wanting to make sure I steward these growing people and their stories as they intersect with mine.
So if you know anyone who could use some gratitude–especially a teacher–share this link below so they can get in on the dailies in November. And if you’re not a teacher, don’t worry, in so many ways you might just be. 😉
Thanks for reading, and cheers–as always–to beefing up our gratitude muscles.
Evi (say it like Chevy), Gratitude Party 2019
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