Favorite Thing Friday: Teacher Appreciation

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Towards the end of the school year, my school has a tradition of having students write letters of appreciation to their favorite teachers. Every year, I get a couple in my mailbox and they always make me smile. A little thank you goes a long way.

After a school year that’s had its fair share of challenges, I was beyond surprised to find so many letters in my mailbox both this week and last week.  Instead of the usual one or two, thirteen letters found their way to me. And they were amazing. Several came from students I thought couldn’t stand me or have never said as much as three words in class. To hear their voice and understand the positive impact I’ve made in their lives was an incredibly moving experience. They wrote about the little things I do – like making the classroom comfortable, decorating for holidays, the fact that I smile all the time and say good morning every day – that I never thought they noticed. It turns out those little things mean the world to them.

Some of the letters I received from students this year.

The biggest surprise, however, came through my e-mail. In the school’s weekly newsletter, my name was listed among teachers nominated to receive the “above and beyond” award by the United Parent Council of my district. At first, I felt like an idiot because I had never heard of this particular award, but after asking a few questions I found out it’s a pretty big deal. The award is only given when a parent or student writes a letter to the council explaining why a particular teacher deserves the honor. Of course, that made me really curious: Who nominated me?

A few days later, an envelope showed up in my mailbox. Inside, I found a nomination letter that was written by one of my students. She wrote the equivalent of a five paragraph essay detailing all the reasons why I was her favorite teacher. I sat at my desk and broke down in tears – everything she said meant so much to me. Her words made all the hard work, the stress, and sleepless nights totally worth it. Not only is this a student I never would have guessed felt that way about me or my class, but she is a student in my AP Art History class. Teaching this class was a huge undertaking that tested every professional skill I possess. To know I did something right, is immensely gratifying an deeply rewarding.

Last night, I was publicly recognized by my district’s superintendent and governing board. While the professional recognition is nice, I treasure the letters written by my students more. They are the reason I go to work early every day and give so much to the job I love.

As the school year begins to wind down, please encourage your children to let their teachers know how much they appreciate them. It means everything to us and encourages us to keep trying as challenges continue to grow. I keep every letter I’ve ever received in a box and I read them whenever I have a bad day. This year’s batch is sure to raise my spirits for years to come. Aside from learning, this is the best gift a student can give a teacher.

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c.b.w. 2014

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30 thoughts on “Favorite Thing Friday: Teacher Appreciation

  1. I’m feeling such joy for you ,for the student who spent the time to write the letter that got you nominated (and all the students who wrote you thank you letters), and for teachers who give SO much and are so often not recognized. Congrats! In the creative writing class I taught this week, we wrote stories on ‘mentors.’ One of my writers, a retired minister and teacher, said he received a letter a few weeks ago from a student he had over 30 years ago, telling him what a difference he’d made in the student’s life. WOW. It’s never too late to write a thank you to a teacher.

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    • How amazing for your friend. We often don’t know where our students end up, though we always wonder. It’s really wonderful that your friend’s student thought to sit down and write his former teacher a letter.

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  2. Karen C.

    Congrats! Your students know how much you put your heart and soul into your classes and they wanted you to know. You spent so much time preparing for your “new” class this year and it definitely showed, not only in how you taught it, but how the students appreciated what you taught.
    You love your “kids” and they know it!!!! I am so happy for you!

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  3. simplydelete

    Congrats! That’s great news! I think it’s great that the school has kids do that. it is really important to show your appreciation to teachers because they do so much and are given little credit.

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  4. This is always my favorite part of the year, too. It’s a great reminder of why we do what we do. (Though I hate the inevitable goodbyes that come with this time of year, too.) :) Congratulations on the “above and beyond” award! Not only an awesome writer but an awesome teacher. :)

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    • I am not looking forward to the last day – I always cry. This is a group I really wish I had more time with as they were so bright and willing to learn. Not to mention very funny. :-)

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  5. Congratulations on receiving so many well-deserved letters and award. Good teachers who love their jobs and students are the core of education. When I taught English at a university in Slovakia, it was the custom for students to present their teachers with flowers at the end of the semester. Mine did that, but they also added thanks for my teaching methods and what they had learned about themselves. I do believe that is a custom that we could well use in the USA.

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    • I’ve noticed similar tradition are present at the elementary level in the U.S., but it fades away in the secondary schools. I don’t know why, but it’s kinda sad that a “thank you” falls out a favor.

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  6. All these things are truly deserved. I’ve never seen you teach but I listen to your stories and hear how much you care. I find I don’t have words to express how happy I am for you. So accept a happy hug.

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  7. This post just made me cry, C.B. Even if you put half as much effort into your teaching as you do into your writing and blog? NO WONDER this award comes your way! Totally deserved! Congratulations and !

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  8. How lovely for you – congratulations!! I can understand why that meant a lot, especially coming from a pupil who you wouldn’t have expected it from – you must be doing something right!! :D So did you get a trophy/Oscar to display on your mantelpiece?! ;)

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    • Every time I see that student, I see her words. I’m still in shock that someone so quiet could make such a strong noise with her letter. Before she heads out for the summer, I’m going to make sure she knows how much her letter means to me.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recognition of your life and work. Some of my most powerful learning experiences came from Art History classes. My mind went on fire and I developed a life-long desire to learn more and to work harder then I had ever worked before. I am forever grateful to those teachers. Much joy to you!

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    • I am so amazed at how Art History got under my skin. I’ve always loved art, but the “science” of art history was so invigorating and I love how the challenge of teaching the class got me fired up about my profession once again. I needed that class and I’m so glad it turned into a passion project! :-)

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  10. I think that is the most wonderful thing…Especially from high school students when it’s not cool to care about your teachers. I know those letters will always serve as a source of inspiration- and topping it off with an award is almost unbeatable. I wrote a letter once in college for my professor. We had to write a paper and I attached it as the last page. He had a definite lecture style to his teaching that didn’t offer a lot of discussion, but I hung on every word. His “lectures” were stories that he told and he made the historical characters so lifelike. I told him I wished I could sign up for his class again just to hear his stories. Took every class he ever offered.

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