Saturday, September 15, 2007

Inspiration from last year's students

Recently I wrote here that on the first day of school, I had read quotes from end-of-year surveys from last year to my new students. My students had answered the question: "If you knew someone in the 8th grade who was going to be in this class next year, what would you tell them?" I also left a space for them to write whatever they wanted, which also garnered interesting answers.

I think it's important for all teachers to ask these sorts of questions and to look back at student responses periodically to both inspire us to keep going and tell us what we need to do to do well this year. I wanted to share some of the responses that a question like this can get:
To not sit next to his friend and put attention when the teacher is talking and ask questions if you have problems.

To follow instructions and try the best they can do cause when I heard Algebra I said I think I am not going to pass that class, but I did.

To be very responsible for all the worksheets she does because they're all for a grade even when there is a substitute! ...It has been great as you know you helped me succeed to the next level 10th I passed my Math TAKS Thank you for teaching me for reaching my goal!

No, don't, you should consider flunking and staying in 8th grade another year LOL! JK!

Yes thank you for all the help you have given me. I really appreciate all the time you gave up for us. Seriously I would of probably failed if you showed us you didn't care. Cuz then I would not care either.

To pay attention and to do your work and take notes and you will pass the class with no problems... this year was good and I learned a lot and it was the first time I got commended on the math test.

I would tell him/her that you were a cool teacher, but not to joke around too much because there is a time & place for that. Also he/she would learn a lot from you.

I would tell them to do there work because the teacher is really badas* and you will learn a lot if you pay attention.

Always pay attention + please try real hard not to piss him off cuz then you + the sir will have a BAD DAY... thank you for always being there for me + actually caring for me + teaching me (not like the other math teachers I've had before)

I would tell him/her that its better if you pay attention since the beginning of the year because if you don't pay attention and don't respect the teacher with Mr. D you are not going to pass TAKS

Mr. D this year has been great as you as my math teacher becaus I asked my other friends what have they learned in there other math class and they said nothing at all!!!!!
This is the stuff that keeps me going. I see the same themes every year in their responses--thank you for caring, I learned a lot--and that all the hard work we did was appreciated and had a positive impact.

I'm not posting this to brag. In fact, after seeing some recent poor test results of my current group, I need to see this to build my confidence back up. While I was a Teach for America corps member, a common punchline to our jokes was "...and that's why I Teach for America!" But the truth is having an impact like I think I did last year is why I got involved in the first place, and why I will continue teaching. Nevertheless, though I may seem confident in my ideas I am constantly questioning my ability; I see myself making mistakes I shouldn't be making in my 5th year, and I wonder whether I'm doing a good job at all.

I do hope to give some inspiration to others that your hard work and dedication to your students is going to pay off, and that you continue in the noblest of fields.