The past couple weeks have been hectic with Homecoming festivities at work and Banned Books Week last week, and now we have parent/teacher conferences twice this week. Add my Masters class to all of that and you end up with a frazzled Mrs. Andersen. I can ignore all of that, though, because of a few shining moments; sometimes those make all the difference 🙂
One of the best moments from this week happened during parent/teacher confereces actually. I never know what to expect during conferences- Will I have happy parents? Angry/frustrated parents? Will parents show up at all? I was decently busy on Tuesday since I teach mostly freshmen. So the shining moment? At least four sets of parents thanked me for getting their children to read and enjoy it! One set of parents told me that they’ve been encouraging their son for years to read. So when he came home with one of my books and wanted to talk to them about it, they were thrilled. They asked me to keep up the great recommendations, and told me that their son mentioned wanting to read an Ellen Hopkins book because his friend in my class was reading the Crank trilogy. They know the material and want him to read it because they know he’ll learn important lessons from her books! Wonderful.
Super moment #2 involves my “looping” classes. Students that fail a section of a core class get “looped” back into a repeat section to make up the credit. Unfortunately, these classes end up with all of the students that failed, so you can imagine how challenging it is to teach those classes. Over the summer when I found out that I have two sections of looping English 9 tri 3 I went to work coming up with changes to the curriculum. I asked my principal if I could do this and if the school would purchase a couple classroom sets of books. Thankfully he trusts me and approved it. So I bought The Hunger Games and Unwind. I thought about buying Catching Fire, but I wasn’t sure if The Hunger Games would go over really well. Most of the students either don’t read or can’t read. My kids LOVE The Hunger Games.
Because these students have discovered a book they actually enjoy, I decided to go out on a limb and propose a challenge to them. Yesterday, since we had a half day, I set up a book pass for these students. I picked out the most popular books on my shelf and we got started. Once the book pass was done, I proposed my challenge. They need to prove to themselves that they can read a book on their own, so with the encouragement of extra credit, I challenged them to choose a book and have it read within the next six weeks- maybe even two books. Since they found some cool books in the pass, most of them were pumped about this! Today I decided to give them SSR time in class to catch up on THG if needed or they could start their extra credit book. During my 4th hour we read for 20 minutes and I told them they could stop and we’d continue with our plans. I heard a silent “Nooo.” And then they all sort of looked at me with pleading faces. “Can we read all hour, Mrs. Andersen?” I didn’t know how to react to those magic words. One of my students even commented that I looked shocked- I was! I’ve been working so hard with these two classes because I know they can succeed. I know they can find great books and enjoy reading. That question was a light at the end of the tunnel. My entire class wanted to read for the hour! I’m so proud of them 🙂
Great moment #3 involves some of my grads from last year. Yesterday one of my former students sent me a message asking if I could provide her with some quotes for a paper she’s writing about a positive literary experience. She’s writing her paper about me and my Young Adult Lit class that she took. It’s incredibly flattering, first of all. And she let me read the beginning of her paper where she recounts her reluctance to take the class because she didn’t read that much. I didn’t know how she felt at the beginning of the class until I read that. Later yesterday evening another one of my former students also told me he was writing a paper about me and my class. The funny part? Both students are in the same class. I wonder what their professor will think when he/she reads their papers.
Moments like all of these make me incredibly thankful. Teachers don’t always hear thank you’s. We don’t always find out how much we’ve helped our students. Teaching is stressful, and we don’t always receive recognition for what we do, but I love my job.