Friday, December 6, 2013

Paying It Forward

Below is an email I sent out to my entire staff of co-workers this morning.  I work at an elementary/jr. high combined school, and we're showing signs of stress.  It's a general message for everyone who works together in a school environment:

I wanted to share something that happened to me today that brightened my day.  As I was in the Starbucks drive thru this morning, I pulled up to pay for my coffee, and was told the person in front of me had already paid for it!  I was so touched by what that total stranger had done, that I offered to pay for the coffee for the person behind me.  I hope I was able to touch the heart of that stranger, just as I was happy to see someone taking care of me.

The reason why I am sharing this story with everyone today is because we all need a smile.  It’s the last few weeks before winter break and the students are becoming more active.  We have multiple responsibilities before, during, and after school which take up any energy we may have left.  The cart gets too heavy to push.  The art room gets a little more challenging to clean up.

No matter what faith you have or what your traditions may be, this is a season for caring, compassion, and giving.  Don’t think about the responsibilities of cookies to bake, or presents to buy for, or parties to attend, or traffic to sit in when shopping…think about why you do it.

How do you feel when, out of nowhere, someone does something nice for you?  How do you feel when you do something nice for others?  With the last two weeks left before break, consider doing something nice for someone, just out of the blue.  Here are some options to consider that do not take any time out of our busy schedules while at work:

1.     If you see someone’s copies in the copy room (especially if your room is close by), consider bringing them to their room.

2.     Write a small note to a co-worker, telling them how awesome they are.  You don’t need to leave a name.

3.     Leave a random little gift in someone’s mailbox.

4.     Donate any little supplies for the teacher’s lounge (sponges, soaps, sugar, plastic utensils, paper products, air freshener).  Don’t worry about “if someone steals it,” just focus on the kind act you did. 

5.     Bring in some treats to fill our co-worker’s tummies.  Refer to #4 if you’re concerned.

6.     Smile and wave.  Yes, that makes a difference.

7.     Give a hug or a high five.

8.     Donate to the student’s food, clothing, and pet food drives.  Students love to see that you’re helping their events.

What about when you’re out on the road heading home?  Too busy to stop and volunteer anywhere?  Consider the drive-thru option.  It was a pleasant surprise for me, and I bet you’ll make someone else’s day!

This may be a blog for art educators or those interested in teaching art in any setting you have available, but the message is universal.  Be the advocate in your building and spread the word.

And to the stranger who paid for my coffee this morning, thank you for making my day brighter.  The joy and happiness you brought me was shared with my students today.


The Traveling Art Teacher

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