Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

One of my former students came running to me at dismissal. He blurted, “Miss! I had a dream I wasn’t “top notch” anymore!” The look on his face was serious.

Top notch was our thing last year. Jay* loves writing. Jay writes beautifully. One day as I was monitoring student work, I looked at him and said, “this is top notch work.” I then used his writing to show as an exemplar for other students and our “thing” was born. Every day after, he would raise his hand and say, “This is top notch work. You’ve got to read this,” as his eyes widened with excitement.

With enthusiasm, Jay looked at me and proceeded to tell me of this dream. “So in my dream, I was a senior in high school. And I slipped. I wasn’t top notch anymore. Instead…one of your pets became #1.”

“Excuse me?,”I replied. “My pets?” Where was he going with this?

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

“Oh you know, your pets. Allie.* Duh. Everyone knows she’s your favorite.”

Okay, so I guess it’s pretty obvious.

“What! No, I love all of my kids. Anyway, continue, what happens next?” I said.

‘Well, I’m a senior and we started getting college acceptances. And Allie got into Harvard and I didn’t. I was rejected and got into Vanderbilt instead.’

‘Jay, you know Vanderbilt is an amazing school too right?,” I replied with amusement.

“Yeah, but Harvard is the best. It’s top notch. It’s where I want to go.”

I smiled, patted him on the back and said, “Well, I’m glad you had this dream. I think it’s a wake up call. You haven’t been your best this year.”

“I know, I get distracted. I need to focus on my work,” he admitted.

“Yes! I believe in you. You were top notch last year because you decided to work extremely hard. It’s easy to slip but hard to stay top notch.”

“It’s not easy to be #1. It’s a lot of work,” he said with his head slumped down.

“Yes it is, but you have a choice right? Where do you want to be? Harvard or Vanderbilt?”

He looked up and smiled. “…..Harvard.”

The bus approached the stop and ended our brief but meaningful conversation. Moments like this remind me how powerful the experiences in our classrooms can be for kids. This small moment has become his standard. I’m so grateful to have played a part in his journey to discovering his full potential. How amazing is that? Jay doesn’t know this, but I needed that moment. My motivation tank has been feeling low lately. A combination of post Thanksgiving break blues along with the changes in weather with little sunlight for me to enjoy has caused a dip in my mood. But I’m thankful that I have a job where my cup can be filled up so easily. This small moment, easily turned my day around and for that, and for Jay, I am thankful.

Join me in my new Thursday weekly installment to find joy and gratitude in our daily lives. Leave a comment below and let’s build more meaning in our lives together–what are you grateful for today?

*Names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

Processed with VSCO with c3 preset

What I’m wearing:

  • News boy hat from Target
    • $12.99; additional 5% off with Target Card!
  • Turtleneck Sweater from Loft (last year)
  • Faux suede jacket from Zara (last year)
    • Warning: This jacket is extremely comfy but not warm!
    • Similar one from Zara
    • Another option with buttons from Zara
  • Faux suede boots from Target (last year)
    • Similar one from Target
    • Similar one from Target – only $27.99 right now!
  • Seven for All Mankind jeans from Nordstrom 
    • These were on sale when I bought them last year!