Monday, December 17, 2012

#makesmesmilemondays Sharing the Blessings of the Advent Season

Pizzelle
I feel so blessed this holiday season with so many wonderful opportunities to see the sights and sounds of Christmas, together with friends and family. And in light of recent, tragic events, I feel blessed just to wake up (even so early!) in the morning and snuggle with my two kids in bed as they open their advent calendars. Over the weekend, I found myself asking: What can I do to honor the innocent children that were murdered in Connecticut, as well as the hundreds of children murdered by gunshot this year, in the very same school system where I am a teacher?

This holiday season and beyond, I will honor the schoolchildren that have lost their lives due to gun violence by trying my best to make sure that every child in my classroom feels respected and valued. I will take those extra steps to let them know that I care.

There are many small steps: greeting my students with a smile and a sincere hello, trying to learn more about my students and their lives outside of school, and making sure to acknowledge the quiet and withdrawn students just as much as the students that tend to be loud and boisterous.

And a few bigger steps: On Wednesday, I will be taking a group of 40 students to an Italian-speaking nursing home where they will paint the residents' nails, play cards, and just lend an ear for a morning. We'll enjoy a pizza lunch together on Wednesday, too (pizza graciously provided by BuildOn - a service learning organization that I am a part of through my work). On Thursday, we'll be making Christmas cards for the elderly residents, to thank them for sharing the morning with us. On Friday, I'll be lugging my heavy pizzelle maker and a ton of ingredients to school, and I'll be teaching my students - all 100+ of them - how to make this classic Christmas cookie. They have been asking me EVERY DAY about these Christmas cookies ever since I first mentioned them a couple of weeks ago. I hope to intersperse my entire school year with more service learning projects, teambuilding projects, and other special classroom activities. (I'd like to do something special for the Festa della Donna on March 8th, and also make homemade gelato in the springtime!).

I'll also be signing petitions this week and talking with my own son about gun violence.

I am thankful to have a job where I can have a positive impact on the lives of children. I am humbled by the actions of those that stood up and protected the schoolchildren, especially Victoria Soto. I am hopeful that many little steps, and a few bigger ones, will add up and make a difference in the lives of my students.

Here are some other ways to help the Sandy Hook Elementary Families and the hundreds of Chicago public school students and their families affected by gun violence.



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