Feeling Grateful

So over the summer I read a wonderful book titled, The Gratitude Diaries, by Janice Kaplan, and it was a much needed reminder for me to always look on the bright side, and to positively reframe the experiences, challenges, and opportunities that I have in my day to day life. More than anything though, it has helped me to refocus my approach to each new day, and to see the world through a lens of gratitude, particularly as I enter into a new chapter here at ASP…so much to be grateful for indeed. It also reminded me of a blog post that I shared a couple of years ago, that I have re-worked here for you today, in hopes that you might find your own gratitude lens as we settle into a new school year. Here is a non-exhaustive list of what I am grateful for as I walk through the Lower School doors at the American School of Paris each and every day…I hope some of these resonate with you, and please know that at the top of this list is the gratefulness that I feel to be working with all of you this year…here we go.

The Noise – Have you ever taken a few minutes throughout the day to just stop and listen to the white noise of a school? If you haven’t then do it on Monday morning…it might just be the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear. It’s a constant hum of laughing and learning and failure and success, and teaching and determination and love. One of the best parts of my day is to walk down a hallway and to listen from outside the door to the sounds of kids engaged…or to stand off in the corner of the playground during recess time and listen to the shouts and squeals of happiness, as kids play and make new friends and learn how to fit in…it is definitely music to my ears, and without a doubt, the soundtrack to a beautiful day.

A Child’s Beauty – Children are the best teachers that any of us could possibly have, and the most beautiful creatures that exist in our world. It is next to impossible for someone to spend a day with a child and not come away inspired and changed for the better. If you really listen to what children say, and if you take the time to watch them interact with the world, your heart will fill with joy and your smile will stretch across your face. The way they notice the little things in life that we often take for granted, the way that they are constantly curious, the utter joy that spills from their bodies when they learn something new and find a little success, and their imagination, creativity, and willingness to fail and to try, try, try again…wow…there is nothing in our world like the beauty of a child.

Committed Educators – Teaching is the most noble, honorable and important profession that we have in society, and quality teachers are as close to true and living superheroes that we have in our world. Committed educators are change agents…they are sculptors…they are artists…they are mentors…they are role models, and they are oftentimes under appreciated. No professional works harder than a committed educator in my opinion, with the sole focus and responsibility of moulding their students into leaders for our world, and into empathetic, compassionate, critical thinking, and creative members of our communities. Quality teachers are truly amazing and deserve to be lauded for their tremendous efforts and contributions to the future of our planet.

The Opportunity – The opportunity that we have as educators is incredible, and the responsibility is immense. The opportunity to re-imagine education and to break free from traditional schooling is in our collective hands, and there is no more exciting time to be an educator than right now. We have the ability to transform how we teach our kids, and how we design and redesign learning spaces, and how we write and deliver curriculum, and how we prepare our students for a rapidly changing world…awesome! We have the opportunity to be courageous and innovative and transformational…let’s seize it!

The Struggle – Watching kids learn, and grow, and fail, and develop is a beautiful struggle, and one that I will never get tired of being a part of. Growing up is hard, and trying to find your way in this world is difficult at the best of times. I love this struggle, and I love each child’s journey into becoming who they will eventually become for our world. They all burn so bright, and their joy and pain is so open and honest and so on display. The struggle is incredible to watch, and it brings you back to that time in your life that shaped who you are. It’ll make you laugh and cry and get frustrated, and it will make you proud…but most importantly it will make you feel, and become a part of something truly special, which is each child’s journey into finding themselves, and their purpose…this struggle is at the core of what is beautiful about education.

The Constant Learning – Each and every day I learn (and re-learn) something new. Being in classrooms and interacting with students and teachers is a constant learning process that makes me a better person. I learn from my mistakes, I learn from the mistakes of others, and I learn about people and how to best support and challenge them. I learn about current educational trends and research, I learn about what’s being successful in other quality schools, I learn from our outstanding ASP leadership team, and like I said before, I learn from the best teachers that we have…our kids. They teach me everyday about the importance of being my best self for others, and to be humble and honest and a good listener. It’s staggering how much you can learn in the run of a school day if you just open yourself up to it.

The Unexpected – An educator’s day never goes as planned and I love it. The thing about school is that you never know from one second to the next what will come your way, and this uncertainty makes me love my job. There’s always an unexpected mini crisis or a student celebration or an issue with a parent or a teacher or a kid, and it keeps us on our toes in the best possible way. From one hour to the next you can be floored by a student accomplishment, you can be bewildered by a decision that a student or adult has made, you can have a belly laugh from something that a kid says to you, and you can be thrown into a situation that will break your heart…and it’s all good. An individual school day is just like a student…ever-changing, unpredictable, surprising, and always beautiful!

The Joy – If you’re like me then coming to ASP everyday brings you tremendous joy…how could it not? We get to hang out with our kids all day long, we get to spend time with our colleagues who are also our friends, we get to learn and feel and become better human beings because of our daily interactions with our students and each other, and we get to shape the future of our little (and not so little) kids. What other profession can offer such a joyful and purposeful existence? Just when you start to feel stressed or frustrated or overworked, you turn the corner and run into a beautiful little kid, with a huge smile on their face, and so much joy in their heart, and they run up to you and they give you a big hug and you just melt as their energy reminds you why you love school so much. I’m so grateful for what children bring to my life!

So there you have it…I’m sure I could go on and on but that’s a decent start I think. Moving forward, and as we inch closer to our Open House on Thursday, I want to challenge you to embrace everything in your life that you should be grateful for, and to let it spill out of you for all to appreciate…I’ll do the same. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be grateful for our lives and our students and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it –

William Arthur Ward

 

Related Websites – 

http://gratefulness.org/

https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-ted-talks-videos/

https://ggsc.berkeley.edu/what_we_do/major_initiatives/expanding_gratitude

 


Inspiring Videos –

What Actually Feeds a Family

Students Discover the Power of Gratitude

Kid President – 25 Reasons to Feel Thankful

A Reminder to Care

Nature.Beauty.Gratitude

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