5 things I’m thankful for (and 3 things I’m not)

5 things I'm thankful for and 3 things I'm not

It’s the time of year when people in America think about what they are thankful for. As a teacher in 2023, I have to say that the job has become much more difficult in some ways than when I was early in my career. Even so, there are things to be thankful for! There are some things I’m not so thankful for, and I’ll include those as well.

Things I am thankful for

Thankful - person holding autumn leaf in a pile of brown leaves on the ground

Online meetings – The Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone to learn how to hold and attend online meetings. While it may not have been the best way for students to learn, online meetings are so much more convenient for other things! Our school has done all IEP/504 meetings and some staff training online and it is more convenient and such a time-saver. No more rushing to the office to attend a meeting as soon as the bell rings. No more waiting around while everyone shows up. Well, we still have to wait for others to “arrive” but that time isn’t lost anymore – just grade, plan, check e-mails, etc. from the comfort of your desk!

The Internet – When I first began teaching 29 years ago, the Internet wasn’t a thing. As a French teacher, having access to authentic resources 24/7 has been a gamechanger. Song of the week, fun videos, authentic readings – it’s all there, just ready to use. It changes the language that people speak in a faraway place into a useful tool that you can use anywhere you are. Most of the other things I’m thankful for require the internet, so I guess this should have been #1 on my list!

My students – I have some students who cause trouble, but for the most part they are pretty good. I’ve heard many horror stories of students attacking teachers, breaking furniture, and being abusive. I’m lucky in that I really haven’t had issues with any of my students. Most of them are decent people who hold the door open, say hello when you greet them, and are happy enough to be at school each day.

A woman attending an online meeting on her computer.
Two students shown from the thighs down, wearing blue jeans and sneakers.

Canvas – I started using Canvas last year to build my course content and I am so glad that I did! Once I built my courses, I can reuse them again and again. It has cut my lesson planning time in half, easily. Find out more about the cool stuff you can do with Canvas in this blog post.

Online music competitions – my students really get into these! We do Manie Musicale each year as well as follow the Eurovision contest. There are so many ways you can use music in your classes, and your students will definitely benefit from being exposed to more French.

Things I am NOT thankful for

Student phones – I have a love/hate relationship with tech. But phones are generally a problem. I have many students who are simply addicted to these little machines. They can’t control their use of the phones, and they don’t realize what they’re missing out on. Sure, phones can be useful tools. But so many teens today are spending 8-10 hours or more on their phones. I have so many who put them away only to take them out within a minute. They don’t even realize that they’ve been scrolling for the past 20 minutes and they’ve missed a huge chunk of class. So while I’m thankful that they have access to information, I’m not thankful for the things they often do with their devices!

School board meeting crashers – We’ve all seen the news stories and videos of angry “parents” who show up to make a fuss about whatever book they don’t like in the school library. We’ve heard the urban legends of litter boxes for kids who identify as animals. It’s ridiculous and depressing to see how many people fall for these stories. Some of those who show up at the meetings aren’t parents in the district – some don’t even have kids! They show up with a script written by someone with an agenda and try to scare the school board into going along with their wishes. If you want to make a difference, maybe volunteer and find out what’s really happening in schools.

Doomscrolling – While there are a lot of problems in the world today, doomscrolling doesn’t really make any of them better. I understand that people can and should learn about problems facing them. But it’s so important to recognize that there are some problems that either don’t really affect us, or that we can’t do anything about. The constant flow of information about disasters and horrible things happening somewhere in the world can’t be good for our mental health, but so many people can’t turn it off. My husband is one of those people he is always worried about the next scary thing. If that scary thing isn’t something you can change or prepare for, you’re just wasting mental bandwith on it.

Three young people standing outside looking at their cell phones.

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