Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Monday, June 14, 2010

An Unexpected Note = Why I Love Teaching

I have been really emotional the past few days. It all started when I realized what an amazing group of 8th graders I will be losing this year; they truly are gems and amazing young people, for the most part, of course. Final exams began last week.

After administering my second exam on Friday afternoon, I found a handwritten note on an index card folded into a student's exam sheet. It turns out that this note was from an aforementioned student I have had a tumultuous relationship with all year, which all began with him receiving an infamous call home for calling me an inappropriate sexual twist on my last name.

The note read:

"To the best teacher I have ever had,
Thank you for everything."

He then signed his nickname. I was shocked and immediately burst into tears.

This truly was a student I spent a great deal of time and energy on throughout the year. Since we had started on the right foot and seemed to make an instant connection, I wanted the negative name-calling experience to be a learning one for him moving forward. At times, he seemed to take my "lectures" and special attention well; other times he was verbally dismissive and even said how much he "hated" me to his peers. He ever made fun of another student for "spending so much time with me." Still, I was determined to get through to him and continued to set high expectations for all of his academic work, words, and actions.

Interestingly enough, though he was never able to publicly announce his appreciation (He only signed his nickname in my yearbook in lieu of a message), this student clearly got something out of all my time and energy working with him. The fact that this reluctant, stubborn student took the time to write a simple note meant the world to me, proving once again the importance of sticking with even the most difficult and seemingly unappreciative students.

Before he wrote the note in class, he wrote on his exam packet how much he hoped his "wonderful English teacher" would give him an A on the assignment, and I decided to write him a note back letting him know how much I really enjoyed teaching him this year. He responded with the special note, and I decided to write him an email thanking him. Sometimes it is even the shortest, simplest gestures and words that mean the most.

In my email, I told this student how much I hoped he'd keep in touch and let me know how he is, though I know in reality he may not feel comfortable staying in touch. High school will be an extremely busy time for him, but I hope that whatever challenges lie ahead for him, he will remember our conversations and my class with a smile. I know I will never forget him; he undoubtedly taught me a great deal about myself and helped me improve my own teaching tremendously.

So, here's to you, my talented, difficult student, for showing me why I love teaching and having the guts to thank a teacher who wasn't afraid to not accept anything less than your best. I wish you all the best always.

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