Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Living Up to the Gifts

Being a Brit, Thanksgiving isn't technically my holiday, but after living here for ten years and raising two American children I think I'm safe to take part in the celebrations now! I have enjoyed watching and learning about Thanksgiving traditions from my friends and colleagues over the last decade. I see stress levels rise as house cleaning and grocery shopping missions take priority. Excitement grows with the imminent arrival of family, as does fear and trepidation at the inevitable excessive calorie intake, and always, conversations center on the things we have to be thankful for. You'll never catch me making a pumpkin pie, but I will be giving thanks.

This year in particular I have received more than my fair share of gifts and I have a deeper understanding of the notion that gifts come in many forms. I have been thinking about the ways I can show my appreciation in a meaningful way. When I was little," thank you" took the form of a handmade note or card. Today we email, text, tweet, Facebook, call and occasionally get to say thank you F2F. One of my favorite expressions of thanks I learned from a student.

Each year this particular student and her five siblings are required by their parents to sit and think about a person who has had a positive impact on their lives during the previous year. They then sit and write a letter to that person explaining, in great detail, how their lives have changed for the better as a result of their shared experiences. I was fortunate to receive one of those letters a few years ago and it made me cry. Emails, cards, voicemails or tweeting out THX just doesn't seem adequate for the abundant year I have had. Instead, I am determined that I am going to live up to the gifts I have received.

For my husband I pledge to be a better confidant and supporter.
For my children I promise to notice and acknowledge the gifts you give me every day.
For my family I will not let the miles create distance.
For my colleagues I will be a better collaborator and flexible thinker.
For my old friends my shoulder will be more readily available for tears.
For my new friends I commit to maintaining and strengthening the bonds we have made.
For my students I aspire to teach you as much as you have taught me.

With that said, I wish you all a wonderful time of giving thanks with your nearest and dearest. Being British is irrelevant, being grateful is what matters.


  1. Your posts seem to get progressively more profound, Pauline. I think it transcends the occasion of the TG holiday. What a blessing you are! I give thanks for your relentless pursuit of relevance, rigor, and responsibility in education every day.

  2. Thank you Rick, I don't appreciate you nearly as much as I should.

  3. Pauline!!!!! I just finished reading the article about you!!! I echo Rick's sentiment, you are are a Blessing! The quality I admire/love the most about you is that you are without artifice. You experience the things that you encounter with the same degree of wonder as that of the children that you teach. I am honored to know you.
    As we were getting ready to leave the other day,Adam asked me.." what three things are you thankful for?" then he quoted " we are defined by the things that we are thankful for". So true.
    Well done, old friend.

  4. Thank you Meli,I wish the article had made it more explicit that I was just representing all of the BCS Engage teachers-I'm so lucky to work in a place where I am challenged and pushed to do better every day!Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I am thankful for YOU! I am so blessed to have met you, and I commit also to strenghtening our bond. The story about your student serves as an inspiration to us all.