"Temporality is part of the truth" -- Chuck Klosterman

Monday, May 28, 2012

School's Out, Thank You Very Much


I hesitate to write this post. As you know, I am an exceptionally humble human being. I'm uncomfortable promoting myself because it smacks of showing off, and I am anything if not modest. I mean, if anyone will inherit the earth, it certainly should be me.

Still, I want to make a point about education that has nothing to do with my teaching prowess, and in order to do so I'm going to have to do something that might seem a little like boasting. I suppose a real teacher would claim it's all about the kids, they did this of their own free will, etc..., but my point isn't about the students. Therefore, at the risk of sounding like a braggart, I present the following thank you notes, precise transcriptions from cards and letters I received from students at the end of this school year.

"This year I have enjoyed traveling and understanding the world through literature. With your help I was able to travel from Venice to Colombia, and later on to Africa. At times I know I was by no means the nicest or quietest person in your class and for this reason I would like to apologize. However, I would also like to thank you for your dedication to teaching us and also for the humor and sarcasm throughout the year. Most importantly, however, I would like to thank you for overlooking my many flaws this year and pushing me to do better."


"Thank you so much for being a super incredible teacher that cares and helps students excel throughout my two year experience in IB English. I personally think that you are one of the strongest and the best teachers I have ever had because you helped me grow academically and have really helped me be strong enough to get through college."


"Although I highly disliked your class because of all the work, overall it paid off. I learned to become successful and I thank you for that."


"I know I could have tried harder in your class. Thank you for being my teacher. I learned a lot this year. Have a great summer."


"I have appreciated your hard work in preparing me for the IB English test. Besides the test, I have really learned a lot, especially about society. I wish you the best."


"Thank you for making me read again. I used to hate books, but you made me read so many great books. Thank you. And thank you for being you."


"Thank you for reminding me why I love English, and giving me a class to look forward to at the end of the day. Thank you for not hating me even when I stopped doing my homework for two months because I felt pompous and like study guides were below me because I had one of those moments. Thank you for catching every single one of my sarcastic comments, even when the rest of class looked at me strange."

Remember, this is more than an exercise in self-aggrandizement. So here's my question:

Considering the recent climate towards education and the near-constant criticism of teachers in some corners of the country, and considering that last year Colorado's legislature passed a law requiring that teachers are evaluated through a complex system of vague and subjective guidelines but that fifty percent of that evaluation must be based on student test scores, where can I submit my students' thank you notes so that I can be evaluated on the kind of teaching that really goes on in my classroom?

14 comments:

  1. Teachers definitely don't get anywhere near enough credit for what they do. I'm glad you got those notes from your students. All teachers deserve to feel appreciated.

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    1. Thanks, Candice. If I didn't get these kinds of things at the end of the year, I'd probably wonder what I did all year.

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  2. Such a great post! Teachers definitely need a ton more credit and a ton less breathing down their necks... Thank you letters should count for more than they do!

    Hahaha, also... Here's my favorite quote: "Although I highly disliked your class because of all the work, overall it paid off." Spoken like a true student!

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    1. I know. And she hardly complained at all during the year.

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  3. Good for you! I'd like to be a teacher but live in Florida for one. Are you paperworked to death? Here they spend more hours filling out the stuff more than they do their teaching planner. Not to mention, they have to teach according to what the hieracrchy wants and I could never do that.

    One teacher told me she has to cover her windows in order to teach Hooked on Phonics. What kind of crap is that?

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    1. We are asked to do many things during the year that take time away from planning and grading classroom work. Sometimes it's beneficial. Sometimes it's not.

      I don't really have a problem being told what the curriculum is. But if a teacher has experience that shows that Hooked on Phonics works, it's only professional courtesy to allow that teacher to teach that way.

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  4. As tough as my job is, I would hesitate to try and do yours. I just couldn't do it. Hey, for at least seven of them, you made enough of an impression that they wrote you notes.

    You should see some of the "Thank You" notes I've gotten over the years! (grin) Definitely NSFW!

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    1. Now you make me curious to know what kinds of notes you do get at work.

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  5. Holy cats, since when do teens thank people? Is that a "thing" now??? ;-)

    J/K. Kudos to you, and to your students. It's heartening to know that one has made a positive impact on their fragile little minds, isn't it? :-D
    Some Dark Romantic

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    1. I was pretty surprised myself. This isn't the first time, but it is the first time so many students have written their thanks to me.

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  6. I am jealous of the grammatical correctness of your students' notes! Congratulations on such wonderful feedback.

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    1. I admit to changing one or two punctuation marks just to make it readable. But that's it. The rest is all them.

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  7. You must be doing something right for the students to take the time and write you. It might be tought for them but it appears you are fair and they respect that. You should send this in to the people who make these laws

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    1. Seriously. It's data. It can be measured. You got seven thank yous. That makes you only partially proficient. It takes at least ten to be proficient. That's what they want, right?

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