The best present is one you can give year round

https://www.flickr.com/photos/72153088@N08/6510934443 CC BY 2.0

https://www.flickr.com/photos/72153088@N08/6510934443 CC BY 2.0

Like many gifts wrapped up during this Christmas/Winter Holiday season, this post could take a lot of forms. Whether it is with a bow, within a kindly worded card or if it is hidden in a neatly wrapped gift the feeling of giving and receiving gifts is a special one.

Classrooms can be gifts that keep on giving

Although, traditional presents are nice, it has been my experience to savour the moments when we are able to strengthen our class community through quality time together. Long after the sweetness of a treat or period off for a movie has been forgotten, students remember being part of something special that benefitted others.

When classrooms unite for a cause bigger than themselves, that is where true giving occurs. Raising funds to support schools in need of resources, supporting clean water projects, or collecting food/clothing for local charities are all ways for students to give. The holidays serve as a perfect time to make it happen, but the need does not stop in January. So why not make giving the focus year round?

Getting started is easy. Start by setting aside a little time to gather/chat about needs and goals for giving in support of others instead of getting down to the business of learning every period. There are numerous NGOs for a class to support such as Ryan’s Well, Plan Canada or Right to Play to name a few, but in 2019 I think it would be great for us to seek justice and equitable funding and access to education for our First Nations families. Most of our classrooms are embarassments of riches in my school board. I know there is room for us all to be generous.

What if we all provided time to interact and set our minds to support a common goal? Encouragement and a space to make it happen are simple gifts that teachers can offer their students. Then let them co-create and negotiate where they want to concentrate their efforts. Your class can divvy up responsibilities such as organizing awareness parties / fundraisers / whole-school events for everyone to look forward. They can plan and host inter-grade social games to include younger and older students. This way, everyone becomes connected to the event(s) in one form or another. That connection allows the community to grow closer together as they work on a common goal. Each time students work together to achieve something or are kind to one another is like a gift that keeps on giving beyond the moment. Start small, think locally, take some time, and grow from there. Remember to have fun. It will be like a breath of fresh air from the regular learning at school.

Although this post was shared in December, its message stretches well beyond any season. I’m hoping that it will serve as a reminder of the give and take that exists in our schools, as well.And, like most gifts, it is better to give than to receive. Especially in the classroom. Keep on giving your best to everyone and in all that you do.

Thank you for reading. Here’s to an amazing 2019 at the speed of learning and life.

 

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Updated: December 27, 2018 — 9:15 pm

The Author

Will Gourley

Grade 5 lead learner and SERT at Adrienne Clarkson PS in the YRDSB. Focused on disruptive, divergent, and modern learning. Member of the global TED-Ed(Club) movement, 1 of 110 TED Ed Innovative Educators, and Global Math Project Ambassador. Twitter @willgourley Proudly blogging here and at https://escheweducationalist.wordpress.com/

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