A coat hanger and a can of VB

It’s December and that means it’s time for some of the customary end-of-year gifts to begin landing on the desks of teachers.

I remember well the gift that mattered most to me … and perhaps even taught me my own little ‘Spirit of Christmas’ lesson.

While I certainly appreciated and used the gifts that came via parents who worked the fragrance counter at Myer or the sneaker section at Rebel Sports, it was Amon’s modest offering that stole my heart.

Amon came from a tough home and he wasn’t always easy to teach.  He was also that kid whose parents I didn’t tell had misbehaved, so disproportionate was the likely response to be for either Amon or myself.

December arrived and Amon found a quiet moment to hand me a plastic bag when others had proudly placed their gifts on display atop my desk.

In the bag was a coat hanger and a single can of Victoria Bitter, wrapped in newspaper.  I asked Amon what this was all about.

“Well, ages ago I heard Miss Harris ask you if you were going for a beer that arvo and you were pretty excited.  And then, I remembered you saying you hate ironing and that you sometimes hang your wet clothes on coat hangers, so you don’t have to do it.”

It had been many months since both of those instances and I knew it had taken effort to remember them for me.  And I also knew the risk Amon had gone to in order to get those items to school.

So, why do I remember those cheap gifts?  Because gratitude isn’t expensive.  It’s simply about seeing another person in their own skin.  It’s honouring their particular and peculiar quirks.

Amon honoured me more deeply than any student had before at the lowest possible cost.

This all leaves me with two questions for you:

  1. Who in your school needs to know you see them and would love to be honoured by you?
  2. What’s the best end-of-year gift you’ve received? (Really. Reply to me.  I’d love to know!)

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. “Leading a Restorative School” is a 3-hour School Culture Leadership tour de force and I’m running it in January near you. Click here to find out more and to book in for Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney.


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