I saw a post in an educator Facebook group the other day asking, "What is the best gift you've ever received from a student?"
Now... I've mentioned in another post that gift cards are my least favorite gift, but there are definitely teachers out there that love them.
Especially those from Starbucks...
So, seeing this question posted encouraged me to reflect once again on one of the "best gifts" I've ever received from a student.
Michael was in the 4th grade in a class for students who needed additional supports for their emotional and behavioral needs.
Michael also lived with food scarcity, "stayed" in an unsafe neighborhood, and was being raised by his grandmother.
The day before Christmas break with children who live in less than stable environments is not always joyous. There are stressors associated with being without the structure of their school community, without consistent food and safety, and without teachers that love them unconditionally.
Michael was one of those kids.
As the day was coming to a close, Michael silently approached me and handed me a gift.
The gift was wrapped in newspaper and sealed tight with masking tape. The newspaper was colored with marker so it had the look of Christmas wrap.
He watched and waited while I unwrapped it.
Inside the colorfully wrapped package was my gift: It was a Christmas pencil with a wreath pencil topper.
I couldn't believe that he had given this to me. Because this gift? this pencil?...
...was Michael's favorite pencil.
(I know this because he carried it with him everywhere like most kids today carry their cell phones. He had chosen this pencil weeks ago from the treasure box.)
So, when you think of your students or your children, I would ask you to consider...
How do you define "best"?
How do you define "gift"?
What kind of connections are you making?
Michael was my one of my students almost 30 years ago. And, in case you were wondering, I still have the pencil.
THAT was one of my best gifts ever.