Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why I Teach...

It is that time of the year where people start to give you dirty looks at me because I'm a teacher and "I get summers off." I'm not going to waste space in this blog refuting that stupid comment. People that read this blog know better and I do not need to preach to the converted. However, I do want to share with everyone a few things that have happened over the past week that are the real reason I teach.

The first thing I want to share is something that happened to me today. I had a great group of kids in my 5th hour this year. The worked hard, but found the time for a good laugh. I promised them a bagel party before their final exam today because of their year of hard work. Some kids trickled in before the start of the final exam and I was called away to answer some questions for another teacher. Normally, I do not leave my room unattended, but I trust these kids enough to give them my car keys to drive to my house to bring back my wallet. They are that good! Anyway, while I was talking to the teacher, the kids shut the door and quickly covered the room with these,

You see, Justin Beiber has been a running joke in class all year and I can't stand this kid. Why is he trending on Twitter ALL OF THE TIME? Anyway, I have a few girls with Bieber Fever and they thought it would be funny to have a Bieber themed Final Exam. They also made me a giant cupcake seen here,

This connection with a group of kids is just one reason why I teach. Here is another.

In High School, it's rare that you get to know a student over the course of four years. You might have them in class for only 1 year and they bounce around to other teachers. Every so often, you get a chance to teach a kids for three or even four years. It's great because you really get to see them grow and mature. I had this opportunity to work with a student over the course of four years and she is easily one of my favorite students of all time. This quick story is how I first got to know this student.

Freshmen year, I give my students an assignment to create their own Origin Myth after having read some Greek stories. These are Freshmen, so I expect a bunch of spelling and Grammar issues, but that's fine. They are here to learn. I impress upon them the importance of proofreading to catch silly mistakes before I get them and find them. Well, this student failed to proofread and this is a sentence I found in her paper, "The mother raped the baby in the blanket." She assured me she meant wrapped, but it was a great teaching point about the importance of proofreading.

Over the years, she has always been very kind and come to me with questions and guidance over various things. This student is graduating this year and is going on to to great things. She wrote me a note and said something that, to me, is the reason why I teach. "Thank you for impacting my life in ways I never thought you would." It was simple. It was sweet. It means the world to me.

The last thing I want to share, but is far from the last reason why I teach is another note from a student. Much like the odds of having a student for four years are steep, getting to know a student that you never teach is next to impossible. I worked with this student over the course of 4 years through various clubs and I would let them pick my brain about school, club stuff, etc. They are one of the smartest students I have ever know and they are going to change the world. One day they came to room to chat and we started talking about the 1,000 greatest books in the world and which ones I have read or want to read. I mentioned I wanted to read Life of Pi and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Two days later I received a gift bag from the student that had both of those book and a note. This sentence is another reason why I teach, "...while you never taught me while I was sitting in a desk, you taught me while I was sitting on one."

I decided to share these stories because it is too easy for teachers to be at the end of their rope in June and wonder why they do what they do. I DO NOT teach to get these nice cards from students. However, they are the things that I will cherish until the day I retire. They are the reason I teach and I hope all of you have your reasons.

Have a great summer everyone!