One in thirty.

That’s the best way to describe life in seventh grade. In retrospect, the first two months flew by in a struggle-filled blur. I’ve come to acknowledge, now more than ever, that my students despise writing, so it is my job to make something of that.. to make it interesting and engaging and something that they carry with them as they progress through the world of public education. Easier said than done, right?

“One in thirty.” Recently, one of my dearest friends shared that she will be taking her experiences as a new teacher and scribing them in an effort to help all new teachers that succeed her. We spoke recently about how her first year is going and how there are occasionally those days in which life happens, and it feels as though the world you built in your classroom is crashing for one reason or another. And yet, there is still that one in thirty day.. that day in which a student shares a story with you to make you smile or asks for your help because they trust you.. the days when you feel as though your role in that school and your position in that student’s life has been validated and that you are helping to make some part of this world a better place.

Today was my one in thirty day. In conjunction with our new behavior plan, the students had the opportunity today to give three tickets to teachers or staff members that they feel deserve recognition for doing the right thing and for being a positive person in our school. We piloted this teacher appreciation day last year. To my own surprise, my students were extremely generous in giving tickets. In fact, one of my tickets was pulled for a prize. Although the acknowledgement was greatly appreciated, I never really knew why I was receiving such praise. This year was very different for me. In comparing the two years in my classroom, my expectations this year are higher, my behavior policy clearer, and my grading policy more rigid. That being said, I’m not necessarily everyone’s cup of tea anymore. As I received tickets today, I asked each student, “Hey, XYZ, what did I do to earn this?” Many students shared that they appreciated the fact that I welcome them with a smile everyday or that I take the time to work with them each and every class. One student interaction stuck with me and proved to be the peak of the entire day:

“Hey Carl (pseudonym), what did I do to deserve a ticket? What do you think I’m doing right?”
“Well, last year I HATED writing, and this year you’ve made it fun for me.”
“Really? So, writing’s not that bad, huh?”
“Well, we’re getting there, but I like coming to your class. That is fun.”

This came from a student with classified struggles in writing who faces equal struggles in getting motivated, and yet here is in front of me thanking me for helping him see that writing can be something enjoyable and that although writing isn’t math or science, we can pull realistic details and experiences from the areas you like to put into your stories to make them detailed and unique. I could have cried.

Most of my tickets today came from students who, last year, were very much introverted and didn’t outwardly share their concerns or struggles with me. It was refreshing to see that, although the typical AP, outgoing students devoted their teacher recognition tickets to my colleagues, it was these students, the typically voiceless, who shared that they appreciate that I see them and would do anything for them. That was a reward in and of itself.

One in thirty.
Let’s see if we can go for two.
– Ms. Sunshine

** One of my students makes a point everyday to share a joke of the day.
Check them out! **

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