Teacher Appreciation Day

Seven Letters of Appreciation

Yesterday I had a rough teaching day in one of my algebra classes. In fact, I emailed some of my trusted math teacher colleagues and told them that I was about to lose it.  I was trying to help my students in the final preparations for their state test (which they are taking as I type), and several of them were not, let’s just say, “as engaged as they ought to be.”   When I thought about this later, I wondered if it was my problem and not theirs.  Maybe I am too intense?  Maybe I need to think about what they want and need and not what my expectations are?

Last week I asked them to write their name, the date they were testing, and the room they were assigned on the front of their practice test booklet.  Then I explained how there would be two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon and that there would be a lunch break in the middle.  When I collected the booklets after class to give feedback on their progress with the problems, I noticed that one student had only written his name and “lunch break”.  There’s a reality check for you.  

This morning I found seven letters of appreciation in my mailbox.  These letters were not written by my AP Calculus students, nor by my students with As and Bs.  These letters were written by my struggling students.  The letters must have been written as part of an English assignment.  I am not sure what the specific directions were but each of these students in his or her own way thanked me for helping them learn, for my patience, for my time, for my humor, and for basically not writing them off.  Here is an exerpt from one letter:  

I wanted to thank you for how much you have helped me this year.  Even though you have got on my nerves and I have got on yours. I just want you to know that you are the best math teacher I’ve had hands down. 

All of the letters are raw and real.  Here’s an excerpt from a different letter: 

One day I know I will look back and wished I would have tried a lot harder in your class.  Again, thank you for dilling with me and hopefully I will have you next year.  

Teachers don’t do it for the money.  High school math teachers especially.  Please take the time to thank your teachers or your past teachers or your children’s teachers this week!  We don’t want mugs or candy so it won’t cost you a dime.