Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Student's Lottery Plans (1999)

I’m sure most of the teachers (especially special education teachers) have had a similar experience…

You’re having a frustrating day and/or week, and you wonder why you do what you do. The pay is crap, the work is hard, and sometimes there is a teacher/parent/administrator who (for reasons you can’t fathom) seems to have it in for you.

Then, something like this happens. It was 1999 and the lottery was in the hundreds of millions. We asked our students to write what they would do if they won the money, and this is what one of my students wrote:

As soon as I read it, I told him I needed a copy of it.

The best part of this student calling me a “good teacher” was how our relationship started. I was student teaching, and it was the first day of school. As all the teenaged students walked in, I smiled and greeted them. I smiled and said, “Hey, what’s up?” to him, and he answered by giving me the middle finger. I knew if I reacted with a “How dare you?”, he would be giving me the finger every morning. I shrugged it off, kept smiling, and he didn’t do it again.

Instead, we learned we had a lot in common. We talked about movies, TV, sports, and video games. He still wasn’t always the “model student” (see: People Who Don’t Suck), but being able to relate to him about other things made teaching easier. Eventually, he ended up listening to me more than his parents.

I remember one morning, his mother called the classroom. She said he wasn’t getting out of bed and said he didn’t want to go to school. I had her put him on the phone, and a few minutes later I had convinced him to come to school.

So teachers, if you’re having one of those days or weeks, keep in mind that you have one of the most important jobs. And no matter what a parent or co-worker says to you, you are making the lives of your students better. I hope more often than not you are getting reminders like this that help you realize you are making a difference…

PS- How many days ‘til February vacation?

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