Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Reminders for Every Teacher (Courtesy of My Students)

Two recent interactions with my students reminded me of two principles of teaching I need to remind myself of constantly:

1. When things don't go the way you want, it's not always your fault.

A couple weeks ago, a student who had been in my class up until the current (and final) quarter of school stopped me in the hallway unexpectedly. This student had failed most of the year, and his work ethic and behavior had steadily deteriorated as time went on, despite my best effort. I was incredibly frustrated and out of ideas. I didn't know how he was doing in his new class until this conversation (as I remember it, anyway):
Student: "Mr. D, I'm getting an A- in Algebra now."

Me: "That's great!"

Student: "I want you to know it wasn't you--I just wasn't ready to try."

Me: "Well, thank you. I know it's hard to say something like that. It means a lot to me."

Student: "You were a good teacher; I did learn a lot of the stuff you taught. I just wanted to apologize."
He then shook my hand.

2. You are probably more appreciated than you think.

Last week my school hosted an open house for the community. Student leaders gave tours of the building throughout the evening. I had a lot of fun that evening, but the highlight was how one of my students described me to a visitor who came by my classroom:
"Mr. D teaches Algebra I & II and he's really trying to get us ready for college. He's one of the most underappreciated teachers at this school. He really deserves a lot more credit than he gets."