Thursday Thoughts: Thanksgiving List

Thanksgiving is the ultimate holiday. Unlike Christmas, there is no pressure to put on a mask, no fear about buying a gift (or pretending to like a gift), no annoying music. It’s a solid day of being in community with family, eating great food and thinking well about the best things in life.


I’m not necessarily a list person and I warn that the following list might appear trite and cliche. However, I am presenting a list of what I am thankful for in teaching:

  1. Students who teach me about life and who give me the permission to speak truth into their lives.
  2. A job that is rarely boring and often challenging
  3. A deep sense of meaning in what I am doing
  4. A group of teachers who are more than colleagues. They are genuine friends who save me on my worst days.
  5. The fact that I can be creative in a meaningful way, whether it’s in a service project, a writing piece, a mural, a website, a documentary or any other project I do with students. Moreover, I get to be creative within the context of community.
  6. I can use my sense of humor and not feel too adolescent. Junior highers get my combonation of campy and sarcastic with a deep sense of irony and self-deprication.
  7. I don’t have to work hard to stay up on pop culture.
  8. An environment that challenges many of my misguided presuppositions based upon arbitrary middle class norms
  9. A true vocation. I am a teacher and when I teach, I can follow a career path that fits my identity.
  10. The massive paycheck. Okay, not so much. But it’s enough to cover the basics.
  11. A built-in time of rest and sabbatical (summer vacation) where I get time to develop lessons, plan my classroom, reflect and spend time with family.
  12. Relative autonomy. It’s one of the few jobs where I can plan for myself how I will do my job.
  13. The subtle glimpses into human tragedy (from the lives of students) that nudge me toward prayer.
  14. Watching students develop into deep thinkers, eloquent writers and creative people and realizing that I was a small part of it.
  15. Playing Jargon Bingo during professional development meetings. Seriously, the game is a blast!
  16. Deep dialogue with open-minded junior high kids whom society would be quick to label and stereotype as street thugs, based upon the looseness of one’s pants
  17. Being able to peek into the mind of another in the form of editing and revising – and seeing the growth that occurs in the process
  18. The opportunity to dress up in funny costumes and speak with different accents
  19. Becoming better at asking questions
  20. Glancing at the multi-colored scrawlings of a web on the white board and seeing the collective aspect of thinking together, then realizing that this messy process will create a multimedia play

John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

More about John

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