Teaching high school students is largely and thankless job. Teenagers aren't exactly known for being appreciative. In fact they are quite self-centered; they are the axis of their universe. The gifts and thank yous that teachers get in elementary school or even in middle school are few and far between in high school. I remember leaving with a trunk full of gifts when I left my teaching stint at a middle school. It was amazing and a little shocking. That has never happened again.

Most of, if not all, my efforts throughout the school year go unnoticed by my students. Generally, some time around Teacher Appreciation week, one, maybe two students, will say thanks. I may get a gift. This year I got one gift card to Starbucks. While the gift card was nice, what I enjoyed more was the card that came with it and what the student wrote. I think you'll find, if you survey teachers, what resonates long after gift cards, baked goods, and crappy crafts, are notes and letters of thanks. I've saved every single letter, email, card, note - you name it - in a binder. I dubbed the binder "Validation." I have a Vol. I and now a Vol. II. It's what I pull out of my cabinet when I'm feeling down and need a little pick-me-up.

This year, year #8 of teaching, has been outstanding. It was the school year where I got to teach two classes of my own design. Post-Secondary Prep I, now my most favorite class to teach, was UHMAZING. It is, without a doubt, what I was meant to teach. I've written about it before (here and here), singing its praises. It's a class that helps fill in the blanks for students in terms of getting them ready for life after high school. Students are done with school on Wednesday (can I get a YAAAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOO!), and before they left for the summer I both surveyed them and had them reflect on the class.

If I get no other thanks as this school year closes, I won't miss it. What the students said and wrote was thanks enough. They have corroborated every effort I made for them this year. I don't think I've ever taught a class that has left a bigger impression or helped students as much as this one. Here's a bit of what they said/wrote:

  • I’ve learned a lot from my caterpillar, Mrs. Marshall. While she doesn’t smoke a hookah, she is full of wise words. Through Post-Secondary Prep she has been able to place me under her mushroom and helped me to grow much more than I have ever thought I could.
  • Mrs. Marshall has really taught me a lot in this class. My bond with Mrs. Marshall is closer because she knows that I like this class and I finally showed my true colors...
  • I don’t know if it is you as a teacher being a person that we could easily talk to but also being a fierce figure that could strike fear in our hearts at any given second. I don’t think I’ll ever find another teacher and friend like you were to me. Above all you have taught me never to quit dreaming or chasing to a bigger goal in life.
  • This class gave me the tools to decide where I want to go and who I want to become.  However, it also taught me that I cannot be anyone but me, no matter how hard I try to be someone or something else.  I cannot please everyone, but I can please myself.  I can make a difference, and I can be in control of what my future entails. 
  • After all, just how often is it that you can have intelligent debates with amazing classmates about tear-jerking documentaries all under the tutelage of a truly awesome teacher? Apparently all the time in Post-Secondary Prep 1, right here in room 227.
  • As a student in this class I have learned so much and gained a ton of information. From the beginning of this class to the end, I believe in myself more than I ever did before.
  • I finally had someone who was supporting me, helping me figure out how to get to my goal and finally on how it was my life and I could do what I wanted even if my parents choose not to respect that. 
  • Without this class and her teachings, I probably would have been bankrupt.
  • By trusting us to talk about more controversial topics, you made me feel as though I could ask any question without being judged.
2011-12 school year - it's a wrap.

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