Like a laser, all her concentration was focused on a pale yellow piece of paper 2-inches square.
Long after her classmates had come to the board to stick up their Post-it notes, she kept working, forming letters so different from those in her native language. Finally, she finished. But she didn’t stick her note up with the others. Instead, she offered it to me first, her eyes solemn and a little unsure.
I read it. “I am thankful for school. I learn many things from my teacher.”
I smiled, handing it back. “Perfect,” I told her.
Her eyes sparkled then, and she put it on the board with the other notes.
We end class this way every day in November, sticking our post-it notes telling what we are thankful for on the “Grateful Board.”
This year, because I have our English language learners, I am blessed to be getting to know with students from all over the world. The students in my classroom claim seven different home countries, representing every continent but Australia (I am still hoping).
As I watched this girl, I was struck by how hard she was willing to work to make sure I knew, that her class knew, what she was thankful for. She labored over perfect, precise letters long after the rest of the class had scribbled off a sentence and slapped it on the board. Being able to communicate and connect was that important.
Words come easily to me. Watching the clock my computer, I realize I have spent less time pounding out 300 words on my keyboard than she did crafting that Post-it note. I can make connections effortlessly. And sometimes? I don’t bother.
My friend Pamela Price asked today “what inspires you?” and I thought of that little girl, determined to let me know I mattered to her. She inspires me today. Inspires me to make a little more effort, reach a little further, take a little less for granted.
Tomorrow, my Post-it note will say this.
“I am thankful for school. I learn many things from my students.”