Monday, May 14, 2007

Why I Teach

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm not gonna lie, I didn't feel very appreciated. My kids are more sick of school than I am, which means their whining and complaining would be at its yearly high even if we were doing something cool in class. Which we're not; we're cramming for next week's standardized tests (thanks, NCLB). They did ask repeatedly if we could have a teacher appreciation party, but that's only because they like A) bothering me and B) snacks. A much better way of showing how much you appreciate your teachers is just shutting up and not bugging the hell out of them. Listening to what they're saying would also be a refreshing change of pace, but let's not push our luck here. Anyway, my week pretty much sucked appreciation-wise.

And I certainly did not get an "I appreciate you" vibe during Thursday afternoon's meeting with my vindictive principal, wherein he scolded me for the unprofessionalism I had demonstrated by sitting on the visitors' side at last week's baseball game and then, considering my loyalties, barred me from graduation. He did, however, offer to procure me tickets to the other school's graduation. He's that kinda guy.

Long story short: school has been rotten lately.

I took Friday off and went down to the beach for the weekend, hoping to feel rejuvenated (or at least less likely to quit) by today. But driving home last night I was dreading returning to school, and walking to school this morning I was dreading it even more. To make matters worse, my morning class is my most obnoxious and difficult class, which makes me hate Mondays more than your average person -- perhaps even more than Garfield (who really has no reason to hate any day what with him being an unemployed cat and all). This morning I flat out did not want to go to school, and in the grander scheme of things, I caught myself wondering whether I can accurately say I even like being a teacher anymore.

And then I found a note in my mailbox from one of last year's favorites:

I cannot believe that you are leaving next year! I will miss you and the fun-loving atmosphere that your classroom provided. I appreciated your humor and insight that were woven into each and every lesson. I enjoyed spending time in your classroom, during and after class. . .

So often students think it's cool to disrespect teachers and their lessons, it's rare to find a student who truly cares. But, it's even rarer to find a teacher with such vigor and passion for learning and sharing. Your lessons carried over into a reality that each of us face every day. You opened my eyes to injustice in the world, and caused me to want to be proactive.*

Thank you for sharing your knowledge, but thank you, most of all, for caring.
This note -- just one little note -- made me feel so appreciated I cried. More importantly, it reminded me of why I do this. Thank you for that, awesome kid from last year.

*PS: I want this sentence engraved on my tombstone.


Grant Miller said...

Life, evidently, is worth living. Congratulations on changing a kid's life.

Dave said...

That Principal sounds like quite an infant. Thats not the way to win any "Princey Awards".

lulu said...

I have tears running down my face right now.

Megan said...

Grant - I don't know that I'd go THAT far, but thanks.

Dave - Infantile is a very NICE way of describing my principal.

Lu - Good tears, not sad tears I hope.

GETkristiLOVE said...

That's awesome. I hope summer gets here quickly for you and maybe you'll get another note.

Phil said...

Why does it seem like only dicks become pricipals?

Melissa said...

And right there, that kid proved my theory of why teaching might be the only way to save the world.

Congratulations, Megan, for being a hero, even if it's only to me and awesome kid from last year.

Dale said...

I wrote a teacher of mine a letter once to let her know how much her teaching meant to me and I hope it had the same effect. Well done.

gizmorox said...

Barred you from graduation? That's incredibly petty.

Teachers mean so much to people, but they're kids, they're idiots, they don't know how to tell you that. I'm glad one found the words.

Flannery Alden said...

Nice...I'm glad you're getting out of there, though, and not a moment too soon.

Anon. Blogger said...

I'm so glad someone came through for you that day. There are a lot more kids that didn't have the courage, idea, or knowledge that it could be meaningful. That is a shame.

Whenever one of my kids says something they like about a teacher I encourage them to write a note, if not right then, certainly at the end of the year.

Reading this confirmed what I already suspected. The effort matters.

You're leaving anyway, just show up for graduation for the kids. What's the asshole principal going to do, get a bouncer? :-) And even if he did get a bouncer, the scene would show him for what he is!! Do it, Megan. Do it!!

Anonymous said...

poo-poo heads. All of 'em. kids, principals... all of 'em. It's just one of the reasons the average shelf life of a teacher is between 3-5 years.

Wonderful to get a letter like that, though!! (sadly for me, I don't get 'em and when I do, the poo-poo heads I have to put up with the following day usually ruin my disposition).

Frank Sirmarco said...

I've got something in my eye...

All kidding aside, that had to be extremely fulfilling and worth-while.