When it was time for my sister Christine, age 9, to give me her gift, she walked up to me, an air of anticipation and love around her. She presented me a small box, clearly and painstakingly wrapped by her, and she just watched me as I opened it. I discovered this:
I had no clue what it was.
She then told me she had spent her own money and bought it for me at the yearly neighborhood yard sale down the street from our house.
"It's for you to put your paper clips in at school."
To this day, I hope I didn't display any facial expressions that exposed my confusion or skepticism. True to form (even to this day), Christine had chosen for me a gift from the heart and given it to me full of confidence that I could use it exactly as she foresaw. It didn't matter that it only cost five cents; what mattered was the love flowing from her face.
I bring up this anecdote because school begins in full force tomorrow. Too often I (and I would assume countless other teachers) feel like I need to be perfect in what I offer my students. Yet, inevitably, I will fail. I will forget to attach a document to Google Classroom; I will spend an extra day grading when I wanted to have their work back ASAP; I will get sick and miss a day of school.
At our school, we follow five Xaverian charisms: Trust; Compassion; Zeal; Humility; and Simplicity.
Christine's gift was a perfect model of Simplicity. She gave me a gift from her heart, paid for from her own money, because she was certain her gift would aid me in my studies at college. She didn't worry about what I or others would think; she didn't compare her gift to others. She just gave what she could, based on a hopeful idea that it would make me happy.
This mentality is what I want to give my students this year. One of my goals for the year is to improve communication and relationships with students. While I might not always be perfect for them, I can always strive to give them all I can in the hopes that it will make their day. If I adhere to this mentality, I think I will have an edu-win on my hands. I don't need to be perfect to give all I have in my heart to my students.
And to always keep Christine's lesson in mind, I'll just have to look at my desk to see this, a wonderfully simple reminder of a young sister's love for her brother: