Want To Make A Difference? Give A Card.

Today’s my first day of Christmas Break. I started the day by meeting a friend of mine for brunch. As we were chatting over brunch, we started to discuss Christmas presents. I made a comment that I’ve made before: it’s not the gifts, but the kind cards that make a big difference to me. These are some phrases that will stick with me during the months to come:

  • “dedication to education …”
  • “active and involved teacher …”
  • “it’s obvious that you care about your students and strive to provide the best learning opportunities possible …”
  • “grateful for the effort you put into your work …”
  • “that yourself and Mrs. Crockett are there as surrogate moms to calm him, hug him, and guide him …”
  • “You challenge him, see his ability, and help him improve and grow …”

As an educator, one of the greatest gifts is knowing that you’re making a difference for kids. These are the words that propel me forward, and they’re the ones that I take comfort in during more challenging times. I can’t help but think about this older blog post by Sue Dunlop. While I may love electronic communication, and lose almost all papers that I receive (despite more organizational systems that you can imagine), one thing that I never lose are cards. I keep all of these notes in a great big drawer, and just as Sue does with her basket of cards, I pull some of these notes out and read them on the days that I really need them.

This drawer of cards though is not just full of notes from parents and students, but also, administrators. Sometimes I print that nice email from a principal or keep the few “thank you” cards that come my way. At the past few schools where I’ve taught, I also have principals and vice principals that write personalized notes to all staff members at Christmas time and at the end of the year. I honestly cannot imagine a better gift! Just yesterday, I received a lovely holiday card from my principal, John. For all of the kind words that he wrote, what really stuck with me was the personalization of his message. He knows that the kids are why I teach — and why I push myself as an educator — and he made this clear in his note. He also ended his card with a reference to great coffee and great booksAs many people know about me, I do love my coffee, and I do love to read

These few words in a holiday card, show that John has gotten to know me as a person as well as an educator. I appreciate both!

It’s because of administrators like John, and many others that I’ve had in the past, that I put away my iPad for a little time in the weeks leading up to the Break, and I hand write (usually with a Sharpie, as I never have a pen 🙂 ) colleagues, friends, and administrators, holiday greetings.

  • I think about my word choice.
  • I consider some anecdotes to share. 
  • I try for a combination of funny and heart-warming.
  • I make these cards personalized, as I know how much this personalization means to me.

Do you want to make a difference to someone this holiday season? What about before year-end? Write a note. A note that shares an authentic connection with the recipient. I think there’s little that’s more powerful or inspiring than that. Do you agree?


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