Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teaching Gratitude

As part of our post holiday debrief, the students RAFTed, or wrote full paragraphs with evidence, about their breaks and then shared them with the class. One student, the same student I witnessed throw the basketball she had gotten as a gift from the school through charity over a random fence as I was leaving work the Friday before vacation, wrote about how she got a doll from her aunt and she threw it out the window. My co-teacher interrupted to say, no you didn't! But she insisted she did-- I believed her-- and continued saying she responded with,"what am I three?" She also said her aunt got her another gift. She then continued on with her RAFT saying, they say you're supposed to be grateful and that it's the thought that counts, but this isn't Thanksgiving!"

I had to interject with a mini lesson of my own. A teaching moment. I prefaced my story with I have a sister who turns ten this month. She was very excited about Christmas as she tends to get a lot of really good gifts due to the fact that she has several much older siblings. I talked about how as she was going on and on about gifts, I told her, I can't wait to see what you get me! What you made for me-- she's an artist. I then went on to say that it is the thought that counts. It's a blessing to receive a gift. Plenty of people do not get gifts in life. Be grateful and you can always regift it to someone else, or to charity. I tried to help her understand with-- your aunts feelings were probably hurt. But then she said, no they weren't! She got me another gift.

There comes a time when a teacher approaches a line that she may not want to cross. Yes, it is my job to teach the whole child, but I do not have the right to criticize her lack of gratitude or what her aunt is NOT teaching her. Eleven years old is too young to grasp the value of giving and receiving. It is up to us, older sisters, aunts, fathers, and yes, teachers to help get that message across.

Otherwise, I worry about these children who may grow up to expect to always get what they want and never have to be grateful for anything they have because they're supposed to have it all. It's a beautiful thing to want to give children the best, but they also need to be taught core values that will last longer their those iPad minis, kindle fires, latest smart phone or Ugg boots ever will.

Through that, empathy is taught. And so is resilience. As much as I also appreciate nice things, I am grateful that I am more than what I have, and I am one who can connect with all, regardless of education status or presentation.

Maybe the nuggets shared by myself, co-teacher and paraprofessional today will resonant with the girl. And maybe they won't.

In the end, my little sister made me a beautiful collage of my favorite things as well as things that represent me. I truly appreciated it. I put it on my refrigerator as soon as I got back to Brooklyn. I hope she remembers for next time, you don't have to have your own bank account to give a gift. You have paper, markers, and the thoughts to put something together for someone to have.

Until next time...

Miss M

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