Thanksgiving has passed, and I have been lucky enough to spend it with my sister in Massachusetts. On the way to Thanksgiving dinner, I whined “I hope this isn’t one of those places where everyone has to go around the table and say things they’re grateful for.” My sister grimmaced and said that she wouldn’t be surprised if it happened — she and her friends are those kind of folk. She then told me that I was a pretty unemotional person which explains why I kinda don’t like things like that.

I agree — halfway. I can be emotional, but I’m not one of those people who enjoys being mushy for tradition, or because it’s expected. I tend to find it grating when people say “I love you” or “you’re my best friend” to me a lot. If you have to say it that much, maybe there’s something about you that doesn’t mean it? Or maybe I’m simply standoffish.  [1]

That being said, I feel like I want to say some things I’m grateful for, probably precisely because I haven’t been asked to do it in some awkward social way. These are going to be teacher-based things.

1. First and foremost, I am grateful for my students. They are each coming to me from different places, and I’m sure they all have very different feelings about me, about math class, and about math. That’s okay, because that reminds me constantly that these math students are individuals. And just as I try to teach them about independence and responsibility (in addition to curricular content), they challenge me — by each being so different, with different strengths and weaknessess — to be a better teacher. I’m especially grateful for my Calculus students, who have given me their patience and faith as I’ve thrown them a curveball in their senior year: a new way of being assessed and graded, and to learn about their own learning strengths and weaknesses.

2. My colleagues — both IRL and not IRL. My “in real life” colleagues have become some of my closest friends, because they’ve seen me and supported me at my lowest lows. They’ve gladly provided help when I needed, taking over classes on days I had to be absent or making emergency photocopies for me when time got away from me. They let me vent when I need to. And they let me help them, which sounds like a weird thing to be thankful for. But I feel satisfaction and joy when I can help one of them out. My “not in real life” colleagues I thank for keeping me intellectually stimulated. Like the cosmic background radiation, you guys keep whirring away in the background of my mind – powerful and ever-reaching, yet whose effects are almost imperceptible until you start looking a little bit closer. Then you’d see the profound secondary effects that you have on everything I do.

3. My school. It’s awesome. There are times I get frustrated with this thing or that thing. But I like to see the big picture, and the big picture is this: I like being at school. Yes, it’s a job. But for me, it’s a job I love going to. I might not always agree with a policy, or think that we’re not going in the totally correct direction, or that this or that situation wasn’t handled well. That’s going to be true anywhere. But what’s nice is that I can speak up about my thoughts if I feel strongly about them, and I feel like I will be heard.

4. Things. The photocopy machine. So many of you have such horror stories with your inability to photocopy things that I have stopped taking our working machines for granted. File folders & binder clips. They. Complete. Me. Free coffee. For obvious reasons.

[1] Thankfully (haha), no one suggested that we state things we were thankful for, and by the end of the night, I was fast one-night friends with everyone at the dinner. They totes rocked.


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