I am not by nature one of those teachers who tries to win over my students. I tend to come across as abrasive, inflexible, and difficult. Thing is, I really, really want them ready for high school. I also want them to know that they don’t have to wait for life to start. Most of the cool things that are done are done by some really young people who have creativity and vision. They also have to have a self-imposed work ethic to get things off the ground (not to mention the ability to PLAY NICE IN THE SANDBOX WITH OTHERS. Read: collaborate).
To give you an example, the last day before Holiday Break I had the students working. There was no “fun” video, although there was a video. It was Fizz and Martina, a math program. I didn’t have a party and push the exchange of gifts. I see parties as a waste of time, and we have things to do. I also dislike noise and disorganization. Parties with kids are nothing but. I changed my usual lessons to be different and challenging (and allow for talk and working together), but I didn’t ditch work altogether.
Hence, my students, I suspect, have come to consider me dour and not much fun. That said, I have my moments. Today was the last day of the semester. This, I felt, was worth celebrating. The last day of their 1st semester at a new program at our school. We made it with little loss of student and with a lot of growth and understanding on all parts. I’m proud of them. I’m proud of the program. I’m proud of us. So I bought cookies from Costco to celebrate. I termed it a “tiny celebration of the end o’semester.” They were surprised. I think happy, too. It’s funny how an unexpected something can make the day right.
In this same vein, I don’t just GIVE Christmas cards. I mail them… with a note… and hand-addressed to the student. Sure I use whatever address labels come in the mail (I’m not that fancy!), but it is the thought that counts. I was told by many students thank-you for sending the card. Think of that, thank you for thinking of me. It makes me worry for what we’ve become. Even more so were the comments about the thank you notes. You see, for students who give gifts, I mail a thank you card. Again, I think it makes all the difference to get something in the mail — not just handed to you, but delivered. There’s something special about your name and seeing it in script on a letter. It wasn’t cheap to mail 55 cards, but it was worth it for them to feel special.
I think that life is a little about the small things. I may not be sweet, kind, and wonderful, but I’m decent.