Brianne Gidcumb | November 2014

An Exercise in Gratitude

“A good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others.”- Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

As Thanksgiving approaches, as I look at my colleagues, I see candles all but consumed by parent-teacher conferences, meetings, report cards, chorus concerts, and new educational initiatives. I see teachers dedicated as ever, giving every ounce of energy that remains to push forward to the finish line that is Thanksgiving Break. I know from my own experience, as Thanksgiving approaches, I count myself blessed to have a few days away from work to enjoy time with family and friends without the stressors of work.

This year, however, I am trying a shift in perspective. Instead of pushing to the finish line, looking for a chance to put work on the backburner for a few days, I am spending this week leading up to Thanksgiving giving thanks for professional blessings, even those that are in disguise. I’d like to share a few of these blessings I am counting this year, and I encourage you to make a list of professional blessings to hold onto during these challenging days.

The opportunity to work with children every day.

Every single day, even on “high-energy” days, on days when I find myself escorting one of my students to the principal’s office, on days when I feel like a novice at classroom management, a child says or does that reminds me how truly blessed I am to do what I do. We must hold onto those moments, even when it is easier to focus on the stress of the negative. Try keeping a journal of these moments to keep on your desk to reference when you need a moment of affirmation.

That arts education has a place in my school.

The arts are powerful, and I feel thereby empowered to have a role in the arts education of children. It is empowering to have a seat at the table of educators. True, sometimes it feels like I’m sitting at the kids’ table while classroom teachers are invited to the grown-up table. But still, I’m thankful to be at the party, and I can make the most of every opportunity to have my voice heard. Even in the midst of the challenges we encounter to provide our students an arts education of the highest quality, there are those of our colleagues, our students, and our school community that are thankful for the work we do on behalf of students, and for that, I am thankful.

The changing landscape in education.

Now more than ever, I feel that the arts have the potential to be brought to a place of prominence in the educational landscape. Common Core, 21st century learning, and Core Arts standards may be added stressors- they are indicators of change, and change is stressful. However, I believe that the direction we are heading is one that will, in time, encourage cross-curricular connections, integration of the arts, and a focus on process and anchor standards.

This Education Closet community.

To be part of a community of educators dedicated to bringing the arts into classrooms at all levels is empowering. I am inspired by my teammates at EdCloset as well as by every reader every day. You motivate me to be the best educator I can be on a daily basis, to dig deeper, to think outside the box, and to step outside of my comfort zone. Thank you for the role you play in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: