Education Opinion

A Final Word of Thanks

By Susan Graham — November 27, 2007 1 min read
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Okay, the last out-of-town guests have gone home. On Sunday night we finished up the turkey leftovers. But I’m not quite through with Thanksgiving. In the pantheon of American holidays, it seems to be trapped between two hulking neighbors, Halloween and Christmas. The new power player is Halloween, which was once a few hours of sweating behind a dime-store mask, collecting candy from the houses on your street. These days Halloween merchandise replaces the Back to School aisle around the second week of September. On November 2, the 50 percent-off sale is over and the Halloween aisle gives way to Christmas decorations. Poor Thanksgiving. It just doesn’t market well unless you’re in the grocery or gasoline business. So forgive me for dragging your attention (panic?) away from the rapidly approaching December holidays to share one more Thanksgiving thought.

During the brief Thanksgiving holiday period, I noticed several articles linking gratitude with happiness. I’ve learned to question the research reliability of pop newspaper psychology, so I noodled around the National Institute of Health’s PubMed Central virtual reading room and discovered that Happy People become Happier Through Kindness. All this thinking about positive outlooks reminded me of an article from the September Virginia Journal of Education . For a year, Laura Findley blogged about her first year in the classroom and some of those reflections were compiled in Off and Running. These were Laura’s thoughts on November 12 when asked, “So do you like teaching?”

I’m tired, but it’s completely worth it. How many other jobs give you the opportunity to be a part of so many lives, and have an impact? It’s so amazing to think that my name will be spoken at least once in 130 households…and that’s just this year. Next year will bring another 130 households. Think of how many lives you become a part of by the end of a teaching career. I don’t think everyone can say that about their jobs.

Because I teach an elective, I see over 500 students a year and I’ve been doing this for 25 years. That’s a minimum of 125,000 households where I’ve been virtually present at the table. I hope I was a welcome guest most of the time.

I wish I’d realized, as Laura did, just what an awesome responsibility and gift this was during my first year of teaching. I would have been more conscientious in my efforts, more kind with my comments, and more thankful for the invitation to all those dinner conversations.

Wonder who’s talking about you at the dinner table tonight?

The opinions expressed in A Place at the Table are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.