As many of you know, I teach students in grades K-6 who have special needs. Their disabilities range from intellectual disabilities to emotional disabilities. I have worked with the same kids for three years. Their families and them have become a major piece of my heart. Without a doubt, I love my kiddos so much.
The generosity of the hearts in these students is clearly evident to me. They know how to show love. When my father passed away, I came back to work and my students all made me cards telling me how much they love me. I kept each of these cards and they sit in my “cherished teacher moments shoe box” that resides in my closet and gets pulled out when I need reminders on why I love and do my job. On top of that, they knew when I was sad or having a bad day. Many of them would try to make me feel better and hug me or give me “imaginary coffee” (shows you just how much they pick up about me). They had a hard time understanding death and what I was going through, as I had to explain it to them. Even if they didn’t understand it, they were there for me and understood that I was sad. They were loving me even though I wasn’t doing my best teaching and many of them have harder lives than I do.
When I graduated with my master’s degree last week, a few students made me cards telling me I was the best teacher EVER. They also made me a video. This video was sent to me when I was at graduation and made me cry. It featured three of my students who have intellectual disabilities. They were thumbs-uping the camera as Pomp and Circumstance played and chanted over and over, “we are proud of you!” This video got automatically saved to my phone and I will forever cherish it. I wish I could share it here for all of you, but due to confidentially, I will not.
And now, it’s two days before we let out for Christmas break. Many of my students come from households that are in poverty. My student who has an emotional disability brought me a gift today. It was a homemade snow globe with a candle on top. Many “normal” people would play that they love it and maybe throw it away when the kid leaves. But, not me. You see, this kid stayed up all night to make this for me. He also has some extreme emotional needs. So, the fact that he WANTED to make me a gift shows me how much I mean to him. He also does not have much money, but spent his time trying to craft me a special gift. Well, it worked kiddo. It is a very special gift and I will keep it forever.
I have tomorrow planned as a fun day for my students. Every year I have them make something for the teachers. This year we will be making “reindeer noses” and having “snowball fights” in classrooms with the fake snowballs I bought. They will enjoy the day and go into Christmas break with smiles on their faces. It’s the least I can do for them.
I sit here thinking about each of my kiddos. I think about how much they mean to me and how much I love them. They have each taught me a special lesson over this past year. They have shown me how to love, that anything is possible if we only try our hardest and go out of our comfort zone, and that love is perhaps the best gift you can give to someone. So, this Christmas, remember that it is not the price of the gift that you give that matters. It is the love you give it with that matters. Give love this Christmas season, not greed.