Yesterday, during our workshop day (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I became a teacher to avoid sitting in meetings all day long…), one of my old teammates from second grade was sitting in front of me. Yes, I usually sit towards the back. I find it’s less distracting to the speaker when I begin to ignore them and look around the room in a constant struggle to stay awake. Anyway, my second grade teacher friend, turned around before we officially began, and handed me this.

She knows I write about my classroom experiences, saw the book and thought of me. At first glance, I thought it was a book of cute kid stories, but as I flipped through it, I realized it was an empty journal, perfect for jotting down anecdotes during the day. As I thanked her for my gift, my mind wandered back to my days as a second grade teacher.

One of my yearly traditions (and one of the few original ideas I had), was a big Grateful Book project for Thanksgiving. Each child completed a prompt about what they were grateful for (I am grateful for the _______ that I eat, that I wear, that I play with, that I love, etc.) on a page. They then illustrated with pencil, traced the pencil with black marker, and then colored with crayons. The pictures were cut out along with the writing and glued onto brown construction paper. The whole affair was bound and laminated and became a beautiful keepsake.

What I remember most about those books was the teamwork that took place. They took an entire week to create. By the third or fourth day, some children would finish. Those who were done with their books would then help their friends will illustrating and coloring. By Friday, usually all but my special education friends were done. The entire class would rally around my sprouts who needed a little extra help to ensure their books were not only complete, but beautiful artifacts to be proud of. I would stand back and watch them all work together and realize how grateful I was to witness such camaraderie.

When I moved to kindergarten, I knew my younger students wouldn’t be able to complete such a complex project. When I spoke to Mrs. D. about it (who at the time was my neighbor, not yet my partner), she told me about her Thankful Placemat. Much like the books, but in a single prompt and turned into a placemat rather than a book, I was truly grateful to be able to continue the focus on what we have to be thankful for and allowing my sprouts to share these sentiments with their families.

As the nation prepares to give thanks (and stuff themselves silly and watch lots of football), I find myself truly grateful. My life is truly bountiful, but when it comes to my professional life, above all else, I’m grateful I get to wake up each morning and enjoy my job. Going to work each day brings me a small sense of joy and loving your job is truly a blessing.