Teaching Profession Opinion

Sharing Gratitude on Thanksgiving

By Starr Sackstein — November 26, 2015 4 min read
Illustration of hands cupped holding a big heart.
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Sisyphus pushes the rock up a hill only to repeatedly have it roll back down, and for eternity, he is cursed to push it back up again.

Sometimes as educators, this is what the school system feels like. The constant futile act of pushing boulders upward, expending precious energy only to have our hard work diminished by the inevitable knowledge of its failure.

The glimmer of hope is that we know our boulder well and the hill we must climb, which makes it possible to change our fate with that knowledge in mind because unlike Sisyphus we have the power to forge effective reform.

This is what I’m most grateful for, the power to change and... the students.

Each day, I have the opportunity to start fresh with a group of students I lovingly call “my kids.” Every child a unique voice needing amplification of some kind. My job is to listen and know when to turn the volume up or when to dial it back in order to best serve their individual needs.

What a tremendous gift to be able to share those powerful learning experiences with my students and my colleagues at the start and end of each day despite the successes or failures that we encounter.

Teaching in itself is possibility. It's growth. It's wonder. It's awe. It's curiosity. There's a lot to be grateful for in it.

And there are no words to express the true appreciation and honor I feel for being able to participate in this amazing work every day.

Here are some words of gratitude from my current students:

I am grateful for amazing teachers in my life. My mom is always telling me about her education experience in Korea, where the teachers would ignore the poor children and suck up to the wealthier ones because their parents would bribe them with money and gifts. I am so thankful to the American educational system, where there is no financial prejudice. Instead it helps the less fortunate students to get the same educational opportunities as everyone else by providing aid such as grants and scholarships.” - High School senior Binnah Cha, Queens, New York

“I’m most thankful for having advanced technology to help me visualize class work and being able to reach out to teachers faster and efficiently for questions and answers.” - High School senior Alyssa Kang, Queens, New York.

“I’m grateful for every little thing that happens in my life that I’ve often overlooked, such as cereal options in a supermarket, or the ability to buy gloves at a store when the weather is cold. I’m grateful for these little things because not everyone is blessed in this world with this privilege, and I’m grateful I understand this.” - High School senior Helena Yeung

“I am grateful to be able to read and write. These two activities allow me to express myself when I’m too scare to express it through my mouth and body.” - High School senior Maryann Liu

“I’m grateful that Newspaper has given me an outlet for writing what I like, and in turn makes me want to write more. I’m also grateful for all the teachers I have this year because they all are awesome.” - High School junior Hannah Zeitner

“I have been blessed beyond what I could have every imagined. I’m grateful for my health, my family, my friends, my education and a safe place to live. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving” - High School senior Amr Mohamed

“I am forever thankful for the teachers who inspire me to learn everyday and have become true friends and confidants to me. I am also very grateful to be able to communicate with people who come from many different backgrounds and have many different points of view. It is from them that I learn so much and I hope that they can say the same of me.” - High School senior Demitri Mihalios

“I’m thankful to be a part of a community that is so culturally diverse and unique. I am incredibly proud to be an individual surrounded by other individuals who are so different from me. " - High School senior Lara Cwass

“I’m most grateful for the learning environment that I am growing up with. In America, I have the freedom to learn and also have a social life, which is unlike Korea, where students my age would be in school from 7 in the morning to 10 at night. As I realize the difference, I’m thankful for the fact that my parents immigrated to New York for the better education environment.” - High School junior Kahyun Kim

“Honestly, one of the many things that I am thankful for is the amount of work that you give us. At times it is overwhelming, but I know that it will prepare us for college, and for that I am grateful.” - High School senior Keith Loh

“I’m grateful for numerous things. My health, my family, my friends and most importantly my education. Not many people are given the opportunities I am given and not given education to the extent I am given. I am thankful for the ability to learn something new everyday and find ways to incorporate it into my daily life. The endless education. I am thankful for those who keep me grounded and most importantly I am thankful to live another day.” - High School junior Janae Kea

To everyone reading, Happy Thanksgiving.

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress 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.