Celebrate This Week: Why We Teach

It’s Saturday and time to Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayers!  Find more celebration posts here.celebrate link upFifth grade teachers see the culmination of the work of an elementary school. We send them off and wonder. Our students move on to middle school and we don’t always know what happens. A few who have siblings at our school came back last Thursday, so proud and a little awkward in their new middle school persona. Seeing these “old” student with the new crop of fifth graders gives me so much to celebrate.

First I celebrate Angelica. She’s going to a middle school that starts in a few weeks, so she’s been coming to school every day helping in our classrooms. And I do mean helping — organizing books, supplies, charging iPads. Now that we have students, she’s helping students. At the end of the first day of school she apologized , “I’m so sorry for talking too much!  How do you guys do it?” The maturity of an eleven year old. Love it!  Her smile and and exuberance is a constant reminder of why we do what we do.

Second I celebrate Christian, a guy who had the courage and know how to stand up for himself. He was placed in a sixth grade remedial English classroom that he knew wasn’t right for him. He had no elective. Upset, but determined he went on his own to the counselor’s office, scheduled an appointment, and then informed them of their mistake. He knew he was a more capable; he was a good reader. He said he was insulted by how they treated him,” like a child.” So interesting his take on this. I am so proud that he knew what he could do and stood up to adults at a new school to make sure he got what he needed.

Third I celebrate my current students’ families. I sent home a “help me get to know your child” survey. I am always so touched by what parents write. If I was to choose one thing to do with parents at the beginning of the year, it would be this. You get so much from this short survey. My form was inspired by the insightful Pernille Ripp @pernilleripp. Get your own here.  One area that came out across the board was in response to the question: “What is the best way to  motivate your child.” The vast majority said PRAISE and ENCOURAGEMENT. Not money or prizes. Beautiful. It made me think of the encouragement provided by the Sugata Mitra’s “granny cloud.’

Fourth I celebrate two new students; one who comes from a local parochial school the other from Texas. Both are potentially fish out of water. Coming in to a group of students who have known each other for years, but these two have entered the classroom with their own set of skills and willingness to learn. Both have stepped up unafraid to face new academic and social challenges. Only ten years old and so brave.

Fifth I celebrate my student’s insightfulness and courage. They created, refined and prioritized their own questions around a focus topic using the Question Formulation Technique. I blogged about it here and here. They worked through one question focus: Writing is Hard. The results were a great assessment of attitude toward writing but what I want to celebrate is the students’ reflection on the importance of learning how to question.  Their responses reassure me that this year will be a great one:

It’s important to learn how to question because when we are older we will ask better questions.

You don’t need help from any teachers, it’s better to do it yourself.

You think a lot when you make questions.

Making questions is like a treasure, because it can be hard to find.

We can use this for survival… to figure things out…in everyday life

Today I celebrate why we teach and love what we do: parents that want the best for their kids and students’ exuberance, bravery, thoughtfulness and willingness to take the journey with us.  We are so lucky to have such gifts.

12 thoughts on “Celebrate This Week: Why We Teach

  1. All of us write letters to parents and students, and they write back too, Julieanne. I agree, it’s wonderful to hear what they say, and most often we get them before our conferences, which also happen before school. I’m glad you tried this, it starts the relationship beautifully, I think. I loved hearing all about your “former” and “new” students, & wish that everyone knew how capable 10 and 11 year olds are. It’s great you had a lovely week starting!

  2. That was inspiring! I have never heard of the Granny cloud but love the thinking and passion behind it! There is so much we can learn from our students when stop to notice. Thank you for sharing your insights.

  3. What an amazing celebration! Courage, dedication, strength and vision in the young people in your life and in those who love them. You SEEing them creates community like nobody’s business! Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience. (Love the survey – could be good to take it as a teacher or coach or principal or leader too to consider how we envision our work for the coming year. ).

  4. Reading your post makes me long for school to begin! I loved each of your celebrations – especially the ones with your “this year” kids – a peek into the year that will be!

  5. You are my birthday sister! Hope you had a good one. I love that you were able to see and celebrate former students. One of mine is the daughter of the teacher across the hall, so I am able to watch her grow. She keeps coming back and even blogs with my class. All my best for a great year!

  6. “We send them off and wonder.” One of my favorite activities is to discover great things my 6th graders already know/do and email their former teachers. They love telling me who the responsible party was and I love sending along my congratulations. Sounds like your year is off to a wonderful beginning.

  7. Students don’t start here for a couple of weeks and your post makes me so excited for my new students!! It’s funny…for each of your stories, I feel like I could substitute a name and I know those same students. 🙂 I, too, admire the bravery and willingness to risk of so many of my students! Thanks for getting me excited! Those students really are so lucky to be spending fifth grade with you!

  8. You had quite a week of strong celebrations, Julieanne. I am glad that your year is starting off well and that you can continue to celebrate the uniqueness of students. I enjoyed the video you shared.

  9. I am now on the receiving end of those wonderful 5th grade graduates and it has been fun learning the differences between 4th and 6th grade students. Here’s to a wonderful year full of many celebrations!

  10. Julieanne – I’m really intrigued by your questioning posts and activities. I’m going to read those linked posts carefully when I have more time. Thank you, too, for the Pernille Ripp link! Great thinking, ideas, and celebrating in this post!

  11. Your celebration shows shows who you are as a teacher – you care deeply. I love how you chose different students to celebrate. Your students are lucky to have you.

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