Those little things that make a huge difference

This year, I designed end-of-year surveys for both my general 9th and 10th grade classes. I do this for several reasons: 1) I want students to understand that I do really value their feedback about what we cover in the course 2) I want them to reflect a bit on how they have grown over the year and what they struggled with 3) I want them to consider what factors helped them through those struggles and 4) I’m curious about how much they actually read of the assigned books.
But an added bonus I hadn’t expected was that several students wrote very nice comments to me, usually in the “Anything else you want me to know?” section and I was truly touched by them. I have a shoebox full of nice notes given to me by students over the last three years and I think it’s important for teachers to keep these mementos to remind us on bad days of why we do this very challenging job. So here are a few of the highlights from the 2015-16 school year, mostly from my 9th graders:
“Thanks for helping everyone in your class.”
“You did a great job teaching and I want to thank you for that.”
“You are a great teacher and I enjoyed this class!”
“You are an awesome teacher and if I had you next year I’d be glad to be in your class.”
“you are a wonderful teacher”
“This year was hard for me, considering I had surgery and I’m glad you didn’t give up on me.”
“Thanks for being the best teacher. I learned a lot from the class and you.”
“I really enjoyed having Ms. ____ as my teacher and I felt that I really connected with her. She helped me improve my writing a lot more than other teachers have. She also made class enjoyable and seemed to actually care about my overall success.”

Answer to the question posed to repeating sophomores about what made a difference this year if they were passing now and had earlier failed: “I would say that the teacher helped me tremendously. Ms. ____ made it so much more fun and easy to learn. The classroom environment was great almost everyday, and I really enjoyed it.”

I’d encourage all teachers to keep a record or repository of the things students write or say that we can point to when answering the question, “Why do I teach?”

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