I was listening to a podcast recently and a successful businessman was talking about the power of a simple thank you. The meditation caused me to think about my year-end posts and how they should change this year.
In 2017, I published a grand total of 29 posts prior to this one. I’ll end this year with 7 fewer Musicuentos posts then my previously least prolific year (38 in 2010, my first full year as a mom). It’s particularly revealing that nothing I posted in 2017 was one of my 10 most-accessed pages in 2017. So, it made little sense to do a series of most-popular-post posts. Instead, I want to end with some thoughts on thank you, with thanks to all of you, and thanks to some of you by name, and a brief nod to which posts interested you all the most this year.
A brief Zoe story
Sometime last year, my oldest daughter had a blister on her foot that was bothering her a lot. She’d never had one before. So I did what any sane mom would do. I came at her with a needle.
You have to understand that this child, at age 5, had to be held down by three people to get her flu shot. At age 6, she screamed and climbed the walls when the nurse came in with the flu nasal mist. At age 7, we quit getting flu vaccines. And got the flu. We didn’t really mind the trade-off, frankly.
But back to the blister. She sat on the edge of the bathtub crying. “Are you sure? I don’t want you to! Are you sure?” she kept asking me.
“I’m sure,” I told her. “The skin is already dead. It can’t feel anything. You won’t know it happened and then it’ll be over.” Eventually, I just gripped her foot firmly and poked. And of course, she didn’t feel anything. And that was the end of the blister.
You should have seen the look of relief on her face. It might have approached rapture. She gasped and tears of relief came down her face. And I’ll never forget the lesson I learned from the first thing out of her mouth.
Oh, Mami, thank you! Is there anything I can do for you? What can I do for you?
Thank you means so many things. It acknowledges that I didn’t deserve the kindness you showed me. It says “You didn’t have to do that, and you didn’t expect anything in return, and you may never see any reward from it, and you did it anyway.” And when the gratitude is sincere and deep, it overflows into a sense of “What can I do for you?”
What you did for me
Right now, in this post, what I can do is thank you by name.
Thank you, Laura, for being there at 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., for understanding the darkness that can close in and fighting it off with me, for helping to save that awful test-writing project, for keeping it real at the conferences, for ice cream and empanadas and laughing at the city rats with me. Thank you Bethanie, for being real, for your calming, realistic diplomacy in classroom practice and for loving my kids you (almost) never get to see.
Thank you, Mary Jo, for giving me an opportunity I never thought I’d have, to return to something I thought I was going to be a very long time ago, and giving me a voice to say something I knew was important. And for the Christmas card.
Thank you Jana and Pilar for being the quietest, truest, longest, most fiercely loyal Musicuentos friends in the 9-year trip. I almost never get to see you or get a chance to interact with you, but you are never far from my grateful heart. Thank you Kim for making me feel like I have some valuable opinions to offer, for all you share and ask even when I don’t have an answer.
Thank you Kara and Dorie for sharing your wisdom and perspective with me and defying the polarizing, marginalizing, isolating politics of this new world by being true friends to me and my daughters. Oh, and I can’t begin to thank you for the ways your talents have benefited my students. Speaking of which, thank you Craig for the stories I didn’t know would make my students laugh, and most of all, got Zoe reading to me in Spanish again.
Thank you Grace and Madeline, and Joshua, Keely, and Elena for making the toughest days worth it, for reminding me that I don’t have to change dozens of lives to make a difference, for your respect and love and quick smiles and attention, for your faithfulness in assignments that aren’t required and your unsolicited apologies when you can’t get to them. Thank you Chris for being the dad who makes me feel like a good teacher.
Thank you Caleb, Jordan, A.C., John, and Liz and your new guy for conference conversations so thoughtful and refreshingly full of faithful integrity and free of the immature pop culture filth that makes me wonder how I can get out of this politely. There is hope and peace away from the spotlight and the acronyms everyone has to explain to me.
Thank you Erica for helping me understand that a new direction is not a bad thing, and the way things are is not the way they always need to be, and often that’s a good thing.
And my Joshua, thank you for your unrelenting faithfulness, for being my touchable rock, the one who brings it home and makes it real and makes my internet work while helping me fight its glittering, empty facade at the same time. No relationship is perfect, but no one but us will ever know how close we come to it.
Top 5 of 2017
Thank you, all the Musicuentos readers, for checking in from time to time through the years. To wrap up this post, these are the posts that most caught your attention in 2017.
#5: To use authentic or learner materials? That is not the question.
Have you taken a side in the longstanding debate on whether to use authentic materials or learner materials in the classroom? See where I stand on the issue in my fifth-most popular post of 2017, “Authentic or Learner Material? Wrong Question.”
#4: Make a viewing guide for that video!
From using and adapting Kara Jacobs’s and Elena Lopez’s materials for Canela, I learned (somewhat) simple but very effective ways to create a viewing guide that can make just about any authentic video into acquisition-rich material for learners across the proficiency spectrum. Check out my “5 Steps to Make a Video Viewing Guide,” my fourth-most popular post of the year.
#3: If you ever wanted to see my storytelling tips in action…
Because of my teaching situation it’s tough for me to make a video, and I’m one of those people who feels the need to explain it and edit it, which takes forever. (Also I’m a little video-shy after some intense and very public criticism on an early attempt to offer a video.) But Wendy was willing to take our storytelling conference session back to the Ohio conference without me, and I promised her I’d make a video, so I did. My post about that video was #3 of the year: “A Musicuentos storytelling video.”
#2: Feed your blog addiction.
Each year, at the beginning of the year, I offer a post on the new blogs that have come on my radar and are helping me in my teaching journey. 2016 was a dry year but boy, did 2017 make up for it. I gave a rundown of eighteen blogs that were challenging and improving my practice in the year’s second-most popular post, “Blogs to Watch 2017.”
And the top post was…
#1: Ready to give up your verb chart?
It’s telling that a post I quickly put together in October as part of my activities at the North Carolina state conference was the only post from 2017 that broke my top 30 most accessed pages. It means there’s a message here that resonated with teachers. In “Break Free from the Verb Chart,” I offer some reasons and ways to get away from using a verb chart to teach conjugations.
It was a quieter year, and that made it a great improvement for me personally than the years before. In my quieter year, thank you for all the ways you touched lives, including mine.
If you made it this far, go back to that last link, and click the purple square. Is there anything else I can do for you?
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