One of these is Gratitude. . . Another is Teaching.

Photo by Curt Brinkmann

“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 some things, others don’t shift, no matter how hard I lean and kick and punch.

One of these is gratitude. . . another is teaching.

I circle back to both again and again, like they are somehow part of my DNA.

I am not saying I am naturally thankful–actually the opposite. So I write here, trying to turn back toward the Good. Some days teaching is about finding ways to be thankful for the lesson plans that go wrong–so they can go right the next time.

I am thankful for phone conversations with my sister after school that do this.  These talks have more than once helped me zoom up and out to find the courage and the next steps needed for 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.  I love writing, and I might just love the teaching of writing even more. To hear a student read their words with a confident tone for the first time, to watch them learn to wield their own voice–that’s the stuff that reminds me that teaching is a gift. . . even on hard days.

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 gratitude is powerful. So is teaching. Both get at the stuff that shimmers, somehow holy, peeking through the dingy and the hard.  I learned gratitude first from my parents, Jim and Holly.  I’m thankful for them.

Sometimes though, I don’t feel thankful for teaching, but in the long haul, the thanks always come. Maybe that’s why this is the time of year where I gear up to share out writing and gratitude dares leading up to Thanksgiving. This year our gratitude party is dedicated to teaching and to teachers.  These upcoming pieces are precious to me, so much so that they’ve been in the notebook for longer than usual. The starts of these pieces are all three years old or more.  Something about the classroom calls forth a deeper care in me–as I aim to steward the stories of these growing people and their lives as they intersect with mine.

At a teacher training once I saw a graphic that showed how teacher morale is at its lowest in October, with holiday break far away, and the zest that comes with new back packs and fresh pens fizzling out. So if you know anyone who could use some gratitude–especially a teacher–would you share this link below? My teacher gratitude party this November will be one of re-igniting agency and hope. We cannot Polly-Anna this hard-hard work of teaching, but we can learn to mine for gratitudes with every. single. student.

Thanks all for reading. If you’re not a teacher, don’t worry, in so many ways you might just be. 😉  Cheers–as always–to beefing up our gratitude muscles.

Evi (say it like Chevy), Kicking off Gratitude Party 2019

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