Friday, October 1, 2010

Teacher of the Year

So after my daughter spent two days playing three grueling regional tennis matches she went back to school. And back to aerobics.

"Hey slowpoke, you need to pick up your energy!" her teacher called out.

I don't think her teacher realizes that slowpoke's mom has Eagle powers.

And is not afraid to use them.

As a former teacher I remember the challenge. You have a class of students in front of you and they are flat characters. One dimensional. And you know nothing about what goes on behind the scenes. Alls you know is that they are students. And students are slackers, who try to get away with doing as little work as possible. You're pretty sure they spend all of their time thinking up ways to slide by, skimming only the surface of your requirements.

It's your job to show them who's boss--let them know that you know that they don't know that you know what they don't know.

You get me?

My twins are in sixth grade and they have different teachers. Very different teachers. The older twin has taken up reading and writing. In cursive. It's a joy beyond belief. He reads in the car, at the dinner table, on the tramp. While we're watching Who's Line is it Anyway or The Office he's reading Fablehaven or The Guardians of Ga'Hoole. And then he writes summaries. In cursive. As per request of his teacher. Yesterday, before walking out the door to school, he showed me his summary, which took up both the front and back side of the paper. "Look how good I did!" he said.

But his teacher docked him 1 point for being too long.

Maybe she hasn't heard the old sixth grade adage, "Summaries are fragile, handle with care." Or the other old sixth grade adage, "Meet me after school by the tennis courts. And come alone."

My other twin's teacher, on the other hand . . .

During the first week of school he came home one day and said, "Mom, don't be surprised if my teacher calls you to tell you what a good student I am."

Then yesterday he came home and handed me a yellow sticky note. "I found this on my desk today," he said. It read:

Dear Dummy Jr.

I love the effort you are putting into school. I love that you are coming prepared and I love that you have the aha sparkle in your eyes. Keep working hard and you'll do great things.

Love, Mrs. Teacher of the Year.

No wonder she won teacher of the year.

Fer reals.

P.S. Nie Nie was so awesome last night. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.


Becca said...

Yea for great teachers. And even good-ish teacher moments.

Nutty Hamster Chick said...

Oh this is a great topic with many sides to it. Teachers are so very important and pivitol in a child's educational life, and hence their eventual life, you know. But then they have to get paid like 5 cents an hour and they don't really get the credit or rewards they deserve. Why is that? Glad your sons have some great teachers and that your daughter is at least surviving what must be a bit of a challenge with hers. Do you think teachers are flat at first too, and there could be things going on behind their faces as well? hmmm

Sandi said...

OHH I so want to be there when you meet that teacher at the tennis courts. alone.
UGH how can you stand that one twin has the bomb diggety teacher, and the other one not so much?? that would drive me nuts. And as for little Miss Aerobics... well, I guess we'll just be happy that she is providing you with such good material :)

T said...

teachers make such an impact on kids' lives... I think some of them forget what it's like to be kids when things that are NO BIG DEAL to an adult can really hurt.

(if Annette is reading this I'm sure she can tell I've been reading her book... and loving it)

Susan said...

My daughter had the teacher of the year last year. She won it for the whole region. There's no comparison, really. A teacher of the year is real, and she understands that her students are real. And she rewards them when they work hard, and when they have fun working hard. So sorry for your older child. He sounds like a dream. I would give away some of my most priceless treasures to own a child that can be found reading. I have to use a cattle-prod to get my kids to read!

Kazzy said...

If my students could read I would totally leave them notes!

Maybe I should send them to the parents more.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh Nutty, that is such a good point. And so true.

Susan, I have always had to use a cattle prod. I'm glad I'm not the only one. That's why it's so exciting to have at least one boy reading on his own.

T, I need to read Annette's book. I'm so glad you're lubbing it.

Sandi, it is kinda hard, but not that bad because my son has pretty thick skin and his teacher ain't all that bad as I make her out to be. That's my job though.

DeNae said...

OK, two things.

One, I totally get wanting to meet people in the tennis courts and introduce them to your backhand. And not just teachers; youth leaders, neighbors, the creepy kid who torments your child in 4th period gym. They all have a tennis lesson coming/

Two, sometimes the teachers we disapprove of are the ones our kids need the most. It could be that what's really bugging us is that "she doesn't do it my way", or "she just doesn't understand how (fill in the blank: sensitive, sweet, smart) my child is." But there may well come a time - and we don't always get to pick when - that having had a teacher who docked a point for length will prove to have prepared that student for something a lot more important.

And while it's absolutely true that a kind word can do a heart good, spending the year before Junior High being given the message that 'just trying your best' will be enough may not necessarily be what a student really needs.

Oh, it is so hard, this parenting thing.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

Oh DeNae, ain't that the truth! All of it.

But don't you think the teacher could have said, "Good job, but it shouldn't be more than a paragraph. Next time I'll dock 1 point."

Or maybe she already did say that and my son didn't listen.

Hmmmmm . . .

Dolly said...

I have two kids with teachers trying to be teacher of the year. They send me emails almost every day with tidbits about their great class and how great it is for me to be a part of my child's educational experience via the their instructions in said email.

I'm like, umm... excuse me, I already have a long list of things to remind me of my mortal limitations.... of course I want to learn mandarin and geometry all over again, but hello??? I'm still trying to set up a house after my fifth international move in seven years. Not only are the students one dimensional, flat characters.... imagine what they think of their slacker parents who probably just use the school system like a homeless person uses a public shelter.