What To Do When You Want To Say Thank You

There are so many opportunities to thank children in the classroom.

They arrive in the morning ready to do their best. They are eager to please. They share with each other. They do their homework.

These acts alone are worth a thank you.

While I thanked the children daily, individually and as a group, it felt like I could do more. Would they remember if I thanked everyone for a good day? Would a child remember if I saw them help another and heard my “thank you?”
I taught young children, and the days were long for them. By the time they leave the building, they can forget how much I appreciated them. So I had two ideas more tangible than words, but a big thank you.
I designed a very simple card. It went like this: I folded a piece of colored computer paper in half. On the outside were children with their arms up as if they were celebrating and it said, “I was sent to the principal today because…” On the inside, I wrote what the child did that day to earn a positive visit to the principal’s office. In a desk drawer I kept a spiral notebook.
When I saw or heard a child do something kind or out of the ordinary, I silently wrote it down. I knew the note had to be delivered that very day so they wouldn’t forget!
Kathy helped me as she often saw or heard something I didn’t see. The other children didn’t know. When everyone else was busy, I quietly asked the child to see me in the hall. I read the outside of the card. The expression on the child’s face was a little nervous and so I quickly read my note. Surprise and delight followed, because I had noticed her actions or words. Off they went to the principal’s office!
I remember standing and watching my student walk proudly down the long hallway, note in hand. I believe they grew a few inches at that point!
I was so grateful for a director who was happy and willing to participate in my plan. He was waiting. He tied a double knot in my appreciation. So my guidance was to go back to the backpack in the hall and silently place the note inside to share with the parents. The child returned to the room and joined the others in our activity. (We share an understanding smile.)
Not a single note was related to academics. They were written with my gratitude for spreading peace in our little room.
Another way I shared my gratitude was having lunch with the “birthday boys of the month”. Yes, we celebrate every child’s birthday in the classroom.
We did the usual. Each month, a birthday candle was placed on our large calendar on special days. We watched with excitement as each day approached. We sang for them, handed them a certificate and gave them a little gift. I decided to extend this birthday celebration to a new level. Every birthday boy that month received an invitation to lunch with me and Kathy Corcoran.
At the end of the month, they took home the special invitation to show their parents that they already knew about my plan. They brought their own lunch without dessert. We provide the fancy cupcakes with stacked icing! After all, we were also eating a cupcake! This was a complete success!

All the kids in the classrooms had gone out to lunch, so the hall was very quiet. We excitedly run out of our room and into an empty space for our celebration.
Kathy Corcoran had prepared the room. She placed the birthday napkins, placemats, birthday plates, birthday hats and cupcakes on a large round table. The kids came in with me to see the adorable “Birthday Table!” The students we thought we knew in the classroom showed a new “me!” There were no quiet children at this table! They couldn’t stop talking and laughing as they told Kathy and me stories and often got up to dance! Before we started our lunch we had our prayer and then Kathy and I told them how grateful we were for our days spent with them. Unfortunately… the fun has begun!
Our laughter could be heard all the way to the principal’s office. Often he would stroll down the hall, following the cheery voices, just to say a few words. The kids loved it and so did we! Oh, the stories we hear! Who were these children… these often quiet children? I know the students enjoyed these birthday lunches. Their joyful voices were our proof!
When all the kids left for the day, Kathy and I talked and laughed about the fun we had with these “free spirits!”
When I look back, I wonder who enjoyed the appreciation activities more…the teachers or the students. I’ll let you decide.
Sharon Capriccioso taught at the Blessed Sacrament School for over 20 years. Here, she writes about lessons learned from her students. Her classes will appear the fourth weekend of each month in the Opinion section.

What To Do When You Want To Say Thank You

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