Teaching can be a tough job. But it is also the most rewarding. This blog post is something I hope to remember to read on the difficult days.
I find the end of the school year hard. I am so happy to see what amazing people my grade 12 students have become, and for them to go off and make their mark on the world. But this is always accompanied by a sense of loss. I have spent at least 5 months in their company, and for some it has been 4 years, on and off. The connections built over that time are meaningful to me. This is why I write cards to each of my grade 12 students each year - I say something good about each of them and how they have impressed me along with good wishes for the future. Each message is different, as is each student. They also each get a lollipop which is a symbol of achievement in my class - a great result or a marked improvement earns a lollipop on a returned test. So it always fills my heart to receive some thank you cards from my students - I hope they have learned that a small gesture can mean a lot. Their words make me proud of who they are and what we have accomplished together. Here are a few excerpts:
"Thank you for actually making me like math and giving me back some confidence I lost a long time ago about my capabilities in math. You are the nicest teacher I have ever had and I really do appreciate everything you have done for me this year. Thanks for letting me know it's ok to make mistakes and giving me the time and all the effort you have put in to let me grow. I hope no matter what I accomplish in the future, I achieve it by hard work, and with all the kindness, empathy and dignity you have taught me."
"Your style of teaching and attitude towards math is so inspiring to me. It feels like you genuinely care about getting your students interested and getting them to succeed. I am honestly amazed you are able to keep up such a positive attitude and it honestly inspires me so much. ... If I grow up to become half as passionate as you about something, I would be so happy."
"I know I didn't get the greatest marks, however you not giving up on me and continuing to demand my best work will always be something I'm grateful for."
"I want to sincerely thank you for everything you've done for our class this semester. Thank you for being more than a calculus & vectors teacher, thank you for being patient, kind, supportive and always having a smile on your face."
"You are one of those teachers who truly cares about her students, and I'm so thankful for that."
"You have been incredibly inspiring to me and have greatly affected me. I admire your passion for math and especially learning. Your love for math is nerdy and contagious and you are the best teacher I've ever had because of it. ... I wish one day I can be half as lovely and caring as you."
Knowing your content is important. Being passionate about it is far more so. And the relationships we foster in our classrooms help inspire students to be their best selves. We do make a difference and our students notice what is important to us. And every so often we will hear a gem like "Your love for math is nerdy and contagious" - it doesn't get much better than that!