Thursday, November 24, 2016


"Bucon, these look like turkeys we did in kindergarten! What are we doing?"

"Oh, my gosh! It is only a turkey if you want it to be. Just give me five minutes to explain what we are doing, OK?"

"Oh! No! Are we seriously painting today? I hate these handcrafted projects. I am not creative!"

"Stop. You are creative. You will be creative. Now smile."

"Yes! No writing today. Right?"


"YES! I love this doing this stuff!"

"I love you, too."

I am eternally grateful for my students, even though some may exhaust me, some may frustrate me, and some may paint my head with remnants of their own hand prints. Students riddle my life as a teacher with a constant barrage of unbridled enthusiasm, cynical skepticism, and understandable anxiety.

The gratitude page is a staple of our senior scrapfolios. We create them the last three days before Thanksgiving, spending the time painting the palms of our hands to create a hand print of who we are physically at this time in our lives then reflecting upon aspects of our lives for which we are grateful. We take those reflections of gratitude and encircle our hands, an abstract act of expressing gratitude. It is a good time for all of us. Well, it can be exasperating for me as I need to step back and let my seniors be kids for a few days. I always want these activities to be "perfect," but there is no perfection in the process. There is only joy in the finished products.

This is my gratitude page from 2012. My students put their own creative spin on this.

It is Thanksgiving so I am going to move quickly to my point.

My students took time this week to examine their hands. The moment was more than simply the colorful physical manifestation of their handprints on paper. They peered into the open hands of what they have freely received in their lives: the everlasting friendships, the teachers and coaches who have nurtured them, the pets who have remained loyally by their sides, the warmth of good homes and shelters from cold, the good health to participate in all of the activities they enjoy, those who have come and gone before them, the gift of life from God, the unconditional love of family. 

We can all look into our own hands today to count the blessings which we have freely received in our lives. We can all take a moment to be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


  1. Alright Aj, now you have made me cry and on Thanksgiving too. We have so many blessings to be thankful for that I don't even know where to start so, I will just say; "Thank you God for my many and loving blessings. Thank you Aj for all of your insight. I wish I had had a teacher like you when I was in school. WOW! You are amazing.

  2. Awkesome. Great job, bud. I'm sure they will treasure this, and your class, for the rest of their lives.

    You da man. ��✌️️��