We spent the past week in the United States reflecting on what we are grateful for.  Now we move into the season of holiday rush.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday turn to Giving Tuesday, and we are aimed straight on to winter break!

It is easy to get caught up in the frenzy of consumerism, gift exchanges, holiday preparations, getting those last few weeks of lesson plans completed, and managing the kids so we can actually get some teaching done in the midst of everything.

All the excitement, mixed feelings about holidays, our personal lives, and showing up to the classroom every day can create a lot of stress.  Tempers can flare, power struggles ensue, and we may end up feeling defeated.

What if something else was possible?  What if we focused on giving grace?  Grace is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another.” 

Give grace to your students.  Remember they are doing the best they can with the skills they currently have.  Where can you find a teachable moment to help them build their skills?

Give grace to your colleagues.  Give grace to the parents of your students.  Remember that most issues or conflicts that arise have nothing to do with you.  Where can you let something slide and know they really didn’t mean anything by it?

Give grace to your family.  Even though we manage to stay reasonably self-regulated all day at work, we sometimes let our control go when we get home.  Our loved ones may bear the brunt of our own unintentional challenging behaviors.  Where can you find a strength to compliment your family members on?

Most of all, give grace to yourself.  You, too, are doing the best you can in each moment.  If life happens and you do or say something you regret, apologize.  Make it right.  And then look for where you can be extra kind to yourself, rather than focus on the negative.

Be a bright light this holiday season.  Remember that your students are watching and learning from you, no matter what grade they are in.  We can all take a little extra time to connect with each person in our lives, remind them of their goodness, and say kind words.  Give a little extra grace, especially to those who you might not want to.

Those little actions, seemingly insignificant to you, may mean the world to someone else who is struggling right now.  You make a difference!