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Special Thanks

It has been one year since I started this blog. My, how time flies! I thought I would repost my first blog in light of the season of thanks. As an update, my son just celebrated his 22nd birthday and his first year in the Air Force. He has had a very blessed year and along the journey discovered that a marriage proposal was a little premature. I am in good health and did leave a thank you note for my doctor. She phoned me later and told me how much it meant to her. I continue to give thanks for the blessings in my life mentioned below and new ones I choose to see each day. I hope you do the same! Thanks for reading!

Reposted from 2014:

During the past month, a number of things have transpired in my life. My baby boy (my firstborn) celebrated his 21st birthday; on that day, he also heard from his Air Force recruiter that he was leaving in 7 days for basic training. Also, on that day, he announced that he would be proposing marriage to his girlfriend. Since that day, I underwent major surgery and I am currently recovering. What a whirlwind of thoughts, emotions, and events!

Now in this season of giving thanks, as I reflect upon the things for which I am grateful, I realize they are innumerable. However, at the forefront of my gratefulness is that I consider myself blessed to have a wonderful husband and children; to have a roof over my head, plenty of food to eat, and a warm bed in which to sleep. This is more than many, many people in this world have and only a few of the things I am fortunate to possess.

Professionally, as I reflect upon the things for which I am thankful, I am reminded of periodic thank you notes I receive throughout the school year from colleagues and parents. I love, love, love these! I post them near my desk throughout the year and then take them home and add them to a scrap book during the summer months I have off for vacation. It might seem a little silly to some, but as an educator, these tiny acts of gratitude are priceless. They help to reassure us that we are making a difference, a belief we might sometimes doubt. While we have an underlying belief that our hard work is appreciated, we sometimes wonder if anyone notices that we have gone the extra mile, done something that wasn’t necessarily our job but needed to be done, or spent extra hours at the office or at home to make sure everything was taken care of. I remember once, early in my career, when I received a copy of a letter from a parent who had sent it to the state department of education. The parent mentioned me, and other members of her son’s IEP team, by name. She highlighted the things she was thankful for and that she wanted to share. She wanted to share her gratitude and recognize those for whom she was thankful—those who had made a difference in her son’s life. That letter touched me to my core. I had heard her express her gratitude in IEP meetings but the fact that she took the time to articulate it and share it meant so much to me. That letter was the first of other notes of gratitude that I have received over the years. While they have not reached such an audience as the state department of education, nonetheless, they have touched me. Simple notes of thanks and recognition have strengthened my belief that I am making a difference.  In recognizing how much these acts of gratitude have meant to me, I made a decision to make sure that I am doing the same. When I have noticed someone going the extra mile, doing a job that wasn’t necessarily theirs to do, or showing excellent professionalism. I have made it a point to take a few minutes to jot it down in a handwritten note or email to let them know I see their dedication. Hopefully, those notes have meant as much to them as the notes I have received have meant to me.

With this in mind, I would like to encourage you to do the same. If you are a parent of a child with special needs, take the time to thank those members of the IEP team who have done something for which you are grateful. As you review the polished draft of the IEP at your child’s IEP meeting, you might not know the number of hours that were devoted to making sure it was exactly how it is supposed to be to address your child’s needs. Your child’s special education teacher likely spent several hours working on it, often during hours well beyond his or her contracted hours. Sometimes these hours are spent at the computer long after students have gone home and faculty meetings have occurred. Sometimes, these hours are spent at the computer at home after dinner is prepared, the kitchen is cleaned, the homework assistance has been given, and their own children are tucked into bed. If your child was recently evaluated and found eligible for an IEP—or if this was a three-year reevaluation of your child’s special education services– the school psychologist on your child’s IEP team has likely devoted many hours, as well, to make sure enough data has been collected to ensure your child’s present levels of academic and functional performance are accurately identified. This is the information on which the IEP goals are built. To gather this data, the school psychologist often spends time observing your student in different setting to determine how he or she performs in the general education setting. The school psychologist also collaborates with your child’s team members to make certain that all pertinent information is collected to ensure your child’s evaluation is comprehensive. Sometimes, this means that your child might need to be assessed in certain areas of development or academic skills and the school psychologist is often the person who will be conducting those assessments. When all the information is collected, the school psychologist compiles the information, interprets it, summarizes it so that it is easy to understand, and puts it into a report that is reviewed at your child’s IEP meeting. And don’t forget the related service providers such as the Speech Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, or Physical Therapist who might be providing services to your child. They, too, devote many hours to making sure your child’s needs are being addressed in that particular area of development. Don’t get me wrong, by outlining these tasks, it is not my intent to gain sympathy for hard work. Let’s face it, it’s our job and we love it! Nevertheless, it sure is nice when this hard work is recognized. So, with that said, think about taking a few minutes to recognize those around you whom you appreciate. Whether you are a parent, an administrator, a colleague, a friend, take time to express your gratitude. You never know when that certain someone could really use some recognition to continue believing they are making a difference.

As I was writing this blog, I was realizing how thankful I was for my doctor who recently performed my surgery. Because she took the time to listen to me, we decided that surgery was the right thing to do. During surgery, she discovered what the problem was and was able to take care of it. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to have found a professional who is committed to the patient and willing to listen. I decided that I had to let her know the depth of my appreciation. I’m sure my doctor, as many others, receives many accolades, but maybe a note of gratitude will touch her in the way the notes I have received over the years have touched me. Maybe, she just needs to know she is making a difference instead of hoping she is. Have you ever sent your doctor a thank you note? I haven’t but, when I follow up with mine next week, I’ll be following my own advice and taking one with me to leave at the front desk for her. It will only take a few minutes of my time, but it could make a world of difference to her. Think about how you can do the same. Take a few minutes to reflect upon those for whom you are thankful and then take a couple minutes more to jot down your gratitude. Take it a step further, even. Make a commitment to take one day per week to reflect upon people for whom you are grateful and choose to express your gratitude to them!

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