Anyone else feel as if they blinked and now the holiday season is upon us?  We live in a society of perpetual busyness, but how often do we stop, slow down, and thank those who support us and help us grow? Giving thanks shouldn’t be reserved for one time a year. It should be embedded into our lives daily.  We all matter and need to make leading with gratitude a priority through our words and actions. 

As I reflect on successes and challenges, there is much to be thankful for both personally and professionally.  Thankfulness can come in all forms, but today I take the time to say THANK YOU to all those experiences and individuals who have contributed to who I am today. Today, I form my thanks around one word…FAMILY. Now, we all have our own notions about family, but expand your thinking and watch how your “branches” can grow.

Family doesn’t always mean someone who is related to us. My FAMILY extends far and wide. Of course, without the love, support, and guidance of my immediate family I wouldn’t be half the individual I am today. Friends are family. Colleagues are family. Complete strangers can become family.  Family can encompass a much larger scale and with the addition of each “branch”, comes gratefulness and growth. 

  • Colleagues

These individuals support, challenge, and grow me as a learner and educator. Over my time in education, I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some amazing and passionate people both at building and district level.  These individuals have encouraged me, stretched my thinking, and at times, pushed me outside of my comfort zone. We’ve laughed, cried, and even had some hard conversations, but ultimately they’ve made me a better educator and person for it. They’re more than just colleagues-they’re my family.

  • School Community

There’s something to be said about a strong school community.  When you see all stakeholders invested in collective efforts towards seeking and taking action on what is best for all learners, you know you have a strong school community.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to be both an educator and parent in our school community.  There are thankless and tireless efforts being done everyday to keep our school community strong.  It’s more than just a school community-it’s family.

  • Students

Yes, these individuals make up a large part of our school community, but we couldn’t do what we do without them. You’d be surprised how much I’ve learned and grown from these little minds.  Seeing the world through their perspectives is inspiring.  They’re matter of fact, speak truth, and can lift your spirits on a rough day. They’re unpredictable, yet some of the most growth-minded individuals I’ve ever seen. They look to us to support their growth as learners, love and support them unconditionally, and lead by example. They’re more than just kids-they’re family. 

  • PLN

My PLN is an ongoing evolvement of awe-inspiring individuals, some of whom I may never even meet in person.  I’ve met these individuals from friends of friends, Twitter, colleagues, and the list goes on.  My PLN expands globally and provides such a wealth of knowledge.  These connections have been invaluable to my growth as an ongoing learner. These individuals are more than just connections-they’re family.  

Although our “branches” of FAMILY may look different, they are the root of who we are as individuals.  As we enter into a time of thanks, I challenge you to lead with gratitude not only today but everyday.  How will you continue to lead with a grateful heart?