last week was teacher appreciation week. and honestly, i deserved some appreciation. i have really been working my butt off – basically 6am to 11pm every day. what i’m doing is pretty insane actually: thirty eight challenging adolescents with wildly different capabilities, teaching all 8th subjects with no grade-level team or provided curriculum to plan from, extended school days and two rounds of state testing, and all that with zero training to run off of. i think it’s been the most challenging thing i’ve ever done in my life (rivaled only by the mission).
the tidbits of sweetness during teacher appreciation week sure were a bit of balm to my worn down spirit. one student, knowing that i don’t eat treats (except on holidays), brought me this luscious bucket full of colorful fruit to enjoy while the other teachers had donuts – so thoughtful!
i also got some pretty fantastic notes from a few of my students. those kids can be so incredibly funny and clever and sweet, and i really love them.
the best part of the week, though, was our all-school assembly on friday afternoon. a few weeks ago, my class lost by just a hair in a relay race in which the teacher was the last runner. i was hoping for a win in the next school-wide competition to redeem myself.
the task this time was to come up with some kind of “group movement” – one minute of synchronized action – to help develop teamwork and communication skills. there was so much drama in my classroom all week trying to decide what movement to do, who should be the leader, who was going to participate, etc. the day of the competition came and i was feeling sure we were going to bomb it – but i canceled our english lesson for the day and told the kids this was their last chance to get something together that they could be proud of showing off to the whole school. and they stepped it up – students were chosen as leaders and the chaos quieted as the movement came together. i joined in the stomp/clap routine, and within 40 minutes we were somewhat ready to compete.
the first few performances of the sixth grade classes were not very impressive, so we were feeling good about our chances. but as the seventh graders began to show off, we got a little worried. we went second to last. under the hot sun in front of 350 other middle schoolers, i moved in sync with about twenty of my students. and the judges loved it! we got 9s and 10s – beating out any previous class. we all stood huddled together on the side of the rest of the school sitting on the ground and watched the last class perform. we nervously gathered closer as the judges wrote down their scores (you’d think this was the national championship of something!). and when we saw those 8s and 9s, we hollered and jumped and hugged.
it was pretty awesome. and i felt, in that moment, pretty dang appreciated and appreciative.