A respected colleague has often told me the most important quality in a good teacher is an open mind, and several others believe it’s a caring heart – but my vote goes to a grateful heart. When I become befuddled and filled with unease in my work with middle school students, the only assured remedy for me is turn to gratitude and its gifts. I have so much to be grateful for that it would take me many hours after school to list it all, but just a few minutes usually succeeds in lessening my concerns. After an exasperating day in the classroom, by 3:30, after some serious assistance from gratitude, I’m usually smiling with a kind of humble satisfaction. After all, with all the gifts I’ve been given – my faithful and affectionate family, the teaching I’m privileged to do each day, the food that fills my refrigerator week after week, the lungs that let life renew itself inside me, the sun that unfailingly rises for me each morning – why shouldn’t I absolutely shout with gratitude? Why shouldn’t I constantly smile in the classroom, since I’m one of the luckiest people on earth – a person who not only was born on third base, but gets constantly reborn there every second, all set to easily score. I don’t have much money in the bank, but better than that, I have a limitless supply of inspiring thoughts and generous feelings, fostered in me over the years by the inspiring and generous people I’ve been fortunate to know. Dollars can disappear, but thankful thoughts and feelings flow from far off, ceaselessly, and I feel their force day after day without end. For allergies I go to my doctor; for unease about my teaching, I go to a grateful heart.