Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words....

Elementary level teachers get crayoned pictures, sometimes with assorted glued appliques in the form of foam letters or glitter, often inscribed with phrases like "Beast Teecher Ever".  (My favorite elementary school admiration was posted on one principal's door labeling her "Princessable.")  Often young children and parents take the time to make a homemade gift that serves as a small token that says "thinking of you," usually delivered around the holidays or the end of the school year.  

That tradition usually goes by the wayside once kids get to secondary school -- simply because there are so dang many teachers that each child has listed on their schedule.  It's probably a good thing that only a few kids tote in chocolates, or homemade peppermint bark or pumpkin rolls, or the Wellness Committee would never get anywhere with their fitness goals for the district employees.

Some teachers use teacher gratitude as prompts for writing or art projects.  Occasionally seniors will go the extra mile and write a note of thanks after receiving a nice recommendation letter for the Common App. or college application.  

The gifts that mean the most are the ones that are totally unexpected.

The Te@chthought Challenge prompt of the day -

Nov 4 What was the nicest gift that you received from student/parent/colleague?

Over the years, I've received some beautiful things with beautiful sentiments.  My very first year, a tiny first grade girl brought me a Christmas cactus in a very small pot.  Today, that tiny girl is a senior in college, and that Christmas cactus is rushing the season this year by blooming at Halloween.  I think of Elizabeth every year when it blooms, and usually text or post a picture for Liz to see the ongoing beauty of this plant.  Liz was a very faithful student who gave thoughtful gifts all the way through high school at Christmastime.

Andrew was a student who spent a semester as a Congressional Page in Washington DC.  His parents were in the process of divorcing that year, he was incredibly homesick, and we talked on Sundays while he endured the first "live away" experience.  He returned to high school mid-year, an surprised me with a floral delivery on the last day of school, thanking me for my support.  In a beautiful 12 inch container was a small palm fern, and a prayer plant.  That was 11 years ago, and those tiny plants are now living on my porch, and are larger than the kid who gave them to me.

There have been many others, and the sweet notes that come as silly post - its that I find inside my closet doors or stuck in my car, senior pictures with memories, and cards from grateful parents are all treasures tucked away.

Two years ago I received my most treasured gift. 
It was late in the school year.  Amelia and I had worked long hours after school as she had completed an NHD project that had advanced to state competition.  She was less than organized, and I was less than patient.  I felt guilty, a LOT, as I felt that I could have been so much more supportive, but I was losing my cool.  It was the night before the competition when she accidentally glued her father's electronic tablet into her display board.  Suffice it to say that my calm demeanor was anything but.

Amelia had worked diligently to learn the skill of micography, which is a calligram, calligraphy-like Jewish art that dates back to the 9th century.  The idea is to use descriptive words to create shading and image.  She appeared in my room handing me two gifts, and the sweetest note of thanks.  A small bluebird (of happiness, she reminded me, as we had studied happiness as a theme that year), and a framed print.  It was an H -- filled with words that she felt described my personality.

Not a single one rhymed with WITCH.

Every teacher has (or should have) a happy file that can be referred to on days when the world comes crashing down.  A place for those sweet notes, funny reminders, or copies of emails from grateful students or parents.  For me, I have a framed original piece of art that is in my classroom as a constant reminder of someone who thought I was wonderful, even when I wasn't feeling that way about myself.