Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dear Mr. & Mrs. So-and-so, your kid is awesome.

One of my least favorite parts of my job is having to call or email a parent about their delinquent or slacker child. Even though most of them are usually grateful to me for informing them, no one enjoys being the bearer of bad news.

On the other hand, it is great fun to be able to tell a parent how awesome their kid is. Last year, I had a class that really gave me a run for my money....there were maybe 5 or 6 students who drove me absolutely bonkers. (And it wasn't just me--these were some of the usual suspects in the administrators' offices. Thanks for putting them all in one class together, guys....) I did have some nice kids in there, but one stood out above the rest. He worked hard, behaved, participated in class, and joked with me about soccer. Also, for a short paper assignment in which students had to use careful observations about the world around them, this student wrote about how it really bothers him to see so many of his peers making irresponsible life choices, and how they often don't deserve the priviledges they are given. (I photocopied that paper and saved one for myself and put another in the teachers room for others to enjoy.) He was like a shining beacon of hope in a class that perpetually gave me a headache, so I wrote to his parents to tell them that. Even though they were already aware of what a great kid they have, they were very glad that I took the time to tell them so.

I just finished sending an email to the parent of another student who has a very refreshing attitude. This girl is in my CP2 class and is on an IEP. But while many of her classmates haven't been doing very much of their work, she has been working her tuchus off. She does her work, earned one of the only good grades on a recent exam, and is now hard at work on a research paper. While the other students have chosen pretty typical, familiar topics (9/11, the Boston Massacre, Hiroshima, etc.), she has gone with one of the ideas I gave the students--the Rwandan genocide. So already, loving the ambition. Then last week, on the first day I brought my students to the library to begin their research, she came in and excitedly told me that she had already started her research at home the night before and had a page and a half of notes! That seriously made my day right there. A reaction to an essay assignment that doesn't range from begrudging compliance to hostility is like Hanukkah come early. And this student now has over 80 notecards of facts she's written down. That's more thorough than my honors students! Oy, so much kvelling going on here.

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