Skip to main content

The Real Thanks

I've taught ninth- and tenth-grade English for the past three years. With the exception of a few students that I've had for credit recovery, this is the first time that I have had a large amount of graduating seniors. Watching them last night at prom, made me realize how privileged I am as a teacher to get to see young men and women grow and mature over four years.

Per the advice from my field instructor in college, I keep a "bad day folder" in my desk at work. I've placed thank-you cards and small notes in there over the past few years, and I have turned to it every now and then, especially on those days that lessons just seem to fall flat. I've come to realize this past week that sometimes our lessons don't take at that moment, but students listen more than we think.

I received a few letters from graduating seniors this week with these messages in them:

"Thanks for introducing me to John Green. I've read every single one of his books."

"Even though I didn't have you for that long, you always pushed me to make my best better."

I can't ask for a better reward than knowing that I've helped create readers and have helped students see more of their potential. I remember the frustration I felt in class when it just seemed like neither got it. I remember the stacks of books that I would set on his desk, and I remember the countless talks I had with the other student, asking her my go-to question when it comes to student work: "Is this something you are proud of?"

As I've seen former students cry in the halls, I've kept my cool this past week until a parent approached me during prom. We were talking about her son's plans after high school because I hadn't had the chance to see him in a while. That's the one down side about having students in the earlier grades: it's difficult for you and them to make time to chat about post-high school plans. In the middle of discussing his college plans, she teared up, turned to me, and thanked me for "getting him through a hard time."

It's at this point that I teared up with her. I had forgotten the conversations I'd had with her son after school. Sometimes it's the smallest, simplest conversations that turn into lessons and change students' lives. It made my night that he and his parents hadn't. Even more so, I know he's heading into the world more level-headed and ready for the challenges ahead.

This is why I do what I do, and this is why I love what I do.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Handwritten Cue Cards in the 21st Century

I just stumbled upon this behind-the-scenes clip of Saturday Night Live's cue card process. This is intense writing. This is writing that is dependent upon trust and checks and balances. Over a short period of time, skits are written, drafted on cards, revised, and the cards revised over and over again. I also really love that SNL continues to use cue cards and not a teleprompter. Like Wally points out, technology can fail. Handwritten cue cards ensure the show goes on. Comedy is hard work. Writing is hard work. Changes are made up until the last minute to get things just right. This is a form of real-world writing.

What's your "gap plan"?

Brene Brown introduces the "family gap plan" in the fourth episode of her podcast, Unlocking Us . This came about when she and her husband would argue when she would return home from traveling. It seemed like the minute she walked in, her husband would expect her to be ready for him to "tap out," where she could take over where he had been supporting the family. While she was away from home, this didn't mean that she was full of energy and at 100% the minute she walked in the door. She had been working too and was exhausted. So, over time they began to name where they were at as people and as a family: I'm at 10%. I'm at 30%. They knew they needed a plan for when collectively she and her husband were not at 100%, but they needed to be for their family. Beyond our personal lives, the idea of a "gap plan" got me thinking about our classrooms and schools. What happens when we are not at 100% or we know that our classrooms or students are not

Filling the Hole in Our Heart

I am taking advantage of this time at home to clean my garage and revisit the notebooks that I have kept for years as a teacher. I stumbled upon this piece from a notebook I kept in 2013, the first summer I spent with the Eastern Michigan Writing Project. --- For the past four weeks, I have had the opportunity to vent, share, and collaborate with a group of like-minded people. We all had different reasons for getting together and different outcomes, but for me, a sense of community really developed. It isn't often that I feel as if I have a group of people who "get me." But now I know that I do. Maintaining this network of friends is so important to me. It really helped me feel safe in this time of educational insanity. And it has also brought about a renewed sense of purpose. I often tell my students not to put themselves in situations where they give away their power and let others make decisions for them. And while education is under siege, I want to fight again