The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Day (its a long one, but very thoughtful)

Today was teacher appreciation day at our school. It is a large school with a lot of employees, so it is never a huge event, but they always try to make us feel appreciated. My administrators stopped by to give a speech about how awesome I am and give me a gift, a pen. Kind of funny, but cute.

I have to say, I am lucky to have a boss that I think does genuinely appreciate me. It has been a rough month, and a particularly rough week. It has been CST testing, and then we have had classes after it each day. The other 10th grade English teacher and I were talking about it today and realized we were some of the only teachers who decided to teach real lessons this week. I just couldn't afford to take a full week off of my curriculum. With the addition of other personal issues I have been dealing with, I have been a little overwhelmed.

I have been trying to put as much of my energy as possible into finishing my BTSA portfolio. BTSA, for those who do not know, is a state program through which California teachers can get their permanent credential. I currently only have a temporary credential. New teachers get 5 years to "CLEAR" their credential and have a permanent one. You can get your permanent one through a university or the state BTSA program. I chose BTSA because the price was right (free).  It is basically putting together a portfolio of specific documents they ask for that help prove you know what you are doing in a typical, diverse California classroom. The paperwork is not difficult, but the process is tedious and I am honestly only about halfway through it. It is due in a little over a week.... and grades for the 15 week report card are due Tuesday. Joy....

But, as I mentioned before, it is nice being surrounded with wonderful, supportive people, and students that I genuinely love. Although not every single person I have to deal with is an angel, my boss made the point to stop by yesterday just to see how I was doing, my co-workers listen to me and are amazing people that put as much effort into doing things like putting books into our students hands, and my students are pretty awesome kids, especially this year.

In my honors class today, I only had 15 kids (the others were gone on a field trip), so we just played Catch Phrase. Since it was an odd number and Catch Phrase only real works with even numbers, they insisted I play. It was a nice reminder of how much I genuinely like these kids.  They complained that "Mrs. Mohr keeps getting the easy ones," ('cause I did- I got "heart" and "open" and stuff like that) and somehow got each other to guess things like "traffic jam" in split seconds. Then there is the one funny Asian kid who is like the most relaxed person I've ever met... totally reminds me of Marc. He never seems in a rush, even when playing a timed game. He just kind of stares at it and thinks and then starts his clues, "It's like.... uh...." as the timer rings and he just smiles bashfully while the other team celebrates.

Then there is the sweet young man I chose as my "case study student" for BTSA. He is a struggling student who really struggles with reading, but has taken my BTSA project of learning vocabulary and improving reading very seriously (he didn't know it was my BTSA project at the time). I asked him to come in today and take a couple of extra tests, just to help with my paperwork, and he was excited for it. He is so inspirational. Despite struggling all semester (I don't think he has received a single report card grade above a D this year in my class), he keeps trying. His ring of vocabulary words is full of words he actually wanted to learn, and they are some excellent choices. I believe he actually knows the words "ardent" and "frantic" now. It felt really good to photocopy them today and then to see his vocabulary quiz scores on Accelerated Reader. His lowest score was a 93%.  :-)   Haha, I made a good choice.  He is gonna make me look good.

Another great moment today was when another struggling student proudly showed me her 100% vocabulary quiz score from the book "Night." I said, "Wow, great job! I'm so proud of you." She bashfully smiled and answered, "See, my mom laughed at me for reading Night with a dictionary in my lap, but it was worth it."  I'm not gonna lie... this was a proud moment.

Since we got off early today for teacher appreciation, I took Vinny book shopping with me after I picked him up. I initially wandered into the used bookstore to look for more Chicken Soup for the Soul books (I am always building my collecting for use with my Chicken Soup unit in the Fall each year).  Vinny loves books too, so I told him he could pick out one also (he somehow walked out with 5 books and a CD... I'm a sucker, but talked the bookstore into a 10% teacher discount). While there, however, I also picked up a small book called, "A Cup of Comfort for Teachers." My own teacher appreciation present. :-)

I read some of it tonight. It is full of stories of teachers who were shocked to find that the school didn't provide chalk or construction paper or markers or paint or any of that stuff... or that they went the whole year two chairs short.... yet still made progress. It is amazing what resilient, creative people we teachers can be.

My school didn't need to do anything super special for us today. I know I am appreciated. I know because I don't have to beg for construction paper. I know because my boss texts me to tell me so when he knows I have had a rough day. I know because he and the security guard show up within practically seconds when I call to say I have an issue. I know because I got the beautiful brand new glass menagerie this year, and all I had to do was ask. I know because the students thank me when they show me a 100% quiz.  :-)  

I  <3 my job.  Even if it does make me crazy sometimes... I still love it.

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