Gifts: IPads, cellphones, clothes, toys, video games…and the list goes on. These are great gifts that I’m sure found their way onto many shopping lists in the recent holiday season. I didn’t shop much, however, and I’ve never participated in Black Friday (really Black Thursday this time). Mostly, I was a spectator watching the blowout sale commercials, watching and reading about people rushing out on Black Friday and throughout December just to load their cars with expensive items for Christmas. Gifts. The English teacher in me never can leave words alone without peeking behind them for other meanings, double meanings, hidden meanings. The word I was studying? Gift. 2013 brought so many gifts and opportunities that I’ve written about before. Yes, I’m still pinching myself, and I think daily about the responsiblity I have to inform others about the extraordinary things that educators are doing. 2013 ended with me having the opportunity to meet, greet, and share my vision with the superintendents of Region 8. It ended with me having a clearer idea of what my goals should be in the next year. 2013 ended and then ushered in 2014, a gift.
What occurred to me in my reflection on gifts is that the best ones are those that are within us. We all have those talents that spring from somewhere inside us just waiting to be cultivated. The gift of song, the gift to draw or paint, the gift to take one look at a student and know something is off. The gift of counsel, the gift to open someone else’s eyes to their own gifts, the gift to handle ten tasks at once and make it all look easy. Those are the real gifts that we possess. They don’t only benefit us; they benefit those around us. So, the worst thing that we can do is sit on our gifts, to not use them, to allow them to lie dormant and not be beneficial to anyone.
Here’s my confession for the new year. In 2009, when I delivered the keynote address at the AVID convention, I felt great afterwards, exhilarated even, as if I was doing something I was meant to do. People said things such as, “Teachers can relate to you.” “You should be speaking to teachers on a much bigger stage.” “You inspire me to want to do better.” Something had stirred in me, and I realize now that it was the gift of a voice that people would listen to. It was the gift to share ideas that could move large groups of teachers. But I was a little scared to put that gift to use right then. I didn’t look for ways to share it. So what did I do? I sat on it. I went back to my classroom to exercise other gifts. While that certainly isn’t a negative, who knows what I could have accomplished had I continued to cultivate my voice. I sat on it, but I slowly started to tap it again, and that is why I am here, I think.
Do you have any gifts that you are sitting on? If you don’t, GO YOU! If you do, resolve to tap into them in 2014. And while we are resolving to use our gifts, let’s resolve to do some other things as well.
-Resolve to use your teacher voice to improve the profession. This includes voting. If we don’t, we shouldn’t complain.
-Resolve to take better care of yourself. Our job is demanding, and it’s easy to put self on the shelf when you’re serving all day.
-Allow family and friends to help you when they try to. (This one is difficult for me. See my photo of my family carrying me.) 🙂
-Resolve to make someone’s day everyday. Your smile in the hallway or in the classroom may be just what someone needs to get the day back on track.
-Resolve to write down something good about each day. Look for success in what doesn’t feel like success. Did Johnny finally come to school a week straight? Success! Quickly jot that down in a dedicated book, and you’ll have a tangible reminder of all the good that happens in our job.
2013 brought amazing experiences and new friends who inspire me to be a better teacher and speaker. I am so excited about what I have been told is about to be one of the best years of my career. This month, I am off to Austin again and Scottsdale, Arizona. Yay! I can’t wait to meet the other state teachers of the year. I will share it all with you.
May your 2014 be filled with innovative ideas, positive friends and supporters, and the realization that you are powerful and needed. Ultimately, may you use your gifts for your sake and for the sake of others. May others see YOU as the GIFT that you are.
Happy 2014 teachers and supporters of education!
(This post was for me as well. I work each day to be a better person and teacher.)