Fun/Creative names for Student Awards?
Tomorrow we have an awards assembly (grades 7-12). With everything that has happened this week I’ve completely forgotten to prepare my award certificates. Normally, I work well under pressure.
I know I will have a Purple Shirt Award (shaped like a shirt) for two students who started Purple Shirt Wednesdays, where the students and staff wear purples shirts every Wednesday. I’m also giving one student a Survivor Award for always hanging in there and not giving up when they don’t get something or when they get frustrated.
I have at least 1 student who I would like to award for her artistic abilities, 1 for his creativeness (he’s a great writer and artist), and 2 for their storytelling abilities. However, I’m drawing blanks on what to call my awards.
Does anyone have any suggestions for creative suggestions for thier names?
My contract was not renewed.
Those are such distateful words, aren’t they? Those five words compose one of the worst phrases in the world for a teacher. They make my mouth feel like I accidentally bit down on some aluminum foil. Gross.
But that’s what happened to me last year. I wrote about it some, but I was in the middle of it and it was still painful. I also didn’t want [and don’t want] to unnecessarily slander my former employer. I think, however, that this story is important to know.
It was my first teaching job. There had been some PD sessions that made me question the direction of the school and I knew I really didn’t want to work there much longer, but they got to it first.
It was a small private school, a school that didn’t pay enough for me to pay my bills and barely offered benefits. I taught 130+ students during six classes a day. I had a school desktop that ran Windows 2000 and a classroom that had corrugated tin walls. For the first year and a half the air conditioning didn’t work and my room would get to be 84 degrees. With 27 [deodorant challenged] sixth graders. I wouldn’t have sent my kids there as a parent.
The details of why I was non-renewed aren’t that important [it was for philosophical and theological reasons, primarily]. You need to know, however, that a 13-year veteran in my division disagreed with our bosses in my dismissal and she was fired. Another teacher resigned for many reasons, but one of them was that he didn’t think they should have fired me. Obviously this was a big deal.
I remember thinking that this was it, my career was over. I knew I loved teaching, I knew I had at least some gifting, I knew I loved my students, but I didn’t know if I’d ever get to do it again. After all, if THIS little dinky school didn’t want me, who would?
Fast forward a year later.
I teach at a school that is twice the size of my other school. We have won more academic and athletic awards than I can count. I have a supportive principal, a hilarious department, and a wonderful mentor teacher. I have a Smartboard and built-in media center in my room, access to any professional development I’d like, and air conditioning that works perfectly. I have a couch in my room!
Our school is going 1-to-1 next year, and has spent the last few years researching how to transition effectively. There is quick and sufficient IT support, there is time given in the school day for us to train, and innovation is encouraged. I love my students so much and they are a joy to teach.
I could talk about how great my school is all day long. I hope my kids get to go to a school as wonderful as this one. I have no desire to leave or go anywhere else, even if I don’t love the location. I know almost anywhere else would be a step down professionally.
I remember thinking that my dismissal from my first school was a black spot and no one would want me. Even though I felt justified in my actions, I feared no school would look past that. But they did, and it was even better than I imagined.
If you’re in the same position - if you end up with those metallic-tasting words in your mouth and that sinking feeling that you’ll never be able to love students again - take heart. If I can get dismissed from a grade D school and end up excelling at a grade A school, so can you. Keep looking, keep being passionate, and keep up hope. There’s a better school out there that would be grateful to have a teacher like you.
[and in case you were wondering, my contract was renewed this year]
I can't believe you read our essays!
Isn’t it disappointing, shocking even, that the majority of my 10th graders were floored to discover I actually read their essays/quizzes/assignments?!
I’m dismayed that their perception and sometimes reality is that their work isn’t read or appreciated by teachers. This has led to a few students becoming emboldened to turn in work that is not their own and goes beyond plagiarism. Last week, one student’s response to a prompt resulted in her copying the first few paragraphs of an article used to aid them in their response. She didn’t even try to pretend to answer the question. At a (VERY) quick glance it looked like she responded thoughtfully to the prompt, but if you take a few more seconds to read over a sentence or two it is clear the work is not her own.
I’m left with a scarily indifferent feeling, numb maybe? Some people might blame the student for a lack of effort and cheeky stunt. While I’m not impressed with her I’m also not angry. Others might direct their frustration toward her other teachers. I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle. To be clear, I think it is unacceptable for a teacher to shirk their assessment responsibilities.
However, I believe this situation is evidence of a larger problem. Teachers spend too much of their own time (weekends, evenings, incredibly early mornings, and ultimately time away from their family/friends) to do our jobs as well as we would like. I spend countless hours planning, grading, and thinking about my students and classroom when I should probably be walking my dog, making a nice meal, or catching up with friends. None of this is compensated and has led me down a scary path this school year. I thought my second year teaching would be easier and in some ways it is. BUT, and this is a big but, I struggled this year with anxiety and burn out. April, my very least favorite month of the school year, was the culprit. My husband became worried about me and nervously expressed his worry over dinner one night. We’ve talked about having kids in the near future and he was curious to know how my job (stress, anxiety, frustration, exhaustion) affects me now and might affect us in the future. He recognized before I did how unhappy and burnt out I was. My work/life balance has been unhealthy to say the least.
I have no solutions here but hope that I am lucky enough to surround myself with loving and supportive family, friends, and colleagues. Life is a constant balancing act and I know my own (future) children will throw me off balance daily, hourly? As the school year winds down and summer looms in the not-so-distant future remember to take care of yourself as we struggle to finalize grades and read those damn essays!
I'm Not Engaging.
I’m not engaging in your comment on my Facebook status that mentions my feelings about 49 schools being closed in Chicago Public Schools.
I’m not answering your question that asks if I would take a pay cut to help “debt ridden CPS system to keep them open”.
Instead, I will sit back and not argue with you. We are on opposite sides, and that has been clear since the strike. Because I’m a teacher I’m supposed to fix the debt problem brought on by crappy mayors, stupid spending, and all around mismanagement of the 3rd largest school district in the country? It’s my job to say no to a raise that helps me put money away later in life because the state is stealing my pension and older people will get to the funds first. It’s my job to say “Yes! Take my money. I don’t need it. Close that debt gap!” No, that’s not my job. My job is to teach. My job is to think about your child, about their education, well-being, who they are, where they are going. My job is to be there for your child and support them, not fix the debt crisis by taking a pay cut. Maybe you should ask the alderman to do that. Maybe they could use part of their $100,000+ a year salary for their part time jobs could be split among their schools. (http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/tables/alderman-salaries.html) Maybe our mayor could not be paying for a park for Maggie Daley that’s expected to cost $55 million (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-08-26/news/ct-met-maggie-daley-park-20120826_1_programs-for-chicago-children-maggie-daley-grant-park). Maybe that 55 million could go towards the schools and one gets named after her? Maybe our mayor could not be planning a 300 million dollar tourism project ( http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-05-17/business/ct-biz-0517-depaul-arena-20130517_1_convention-expert-heywood-sanders-arena-mccormick-place) both the park and the tourism project are funded by tax payers.
We gladly spend money on things like that, but we starve our schools. The union had to bargain for textbooks on time. Parents have to have fundraisers to pay for ancillary teachers. And god forbid we give them a classroom. We’d be considered underutilized and would be threatened with closing. I’m just unclear why our city government is so against investing in our youth? Won’t that make our fair city better? You might say that tourism will bring us more money…money to invest in schools! I’m just wondering if that’s where the money will actually go?
I understand that CPS has about 100.000 seats open. I understand that there has to be some consolidation. I do not think they are going the right way about it. Why not a plan that goes over few years. A plan that gives schools time to adjust, to plan, and support.
But, what do I know? I’m just a teacher who should take a pay cut.
I made a decision last week...
Last week, when my students were exhausted, when the heat in the school was unbearable and I was losing momentum I had a conflict with a student.
He was being rude, disruptive and petulant. His attitude was terrible and I wanted to tell him how I really felt about his behavior and his progress on our final project. I almost yelled, I almost insulted and I almost said what I wanted to say.
But then I made a decision…
I sat next to him and asked him how his day was going. I asked how his project was and I told him that I felt like he did. I felt lazy, I felt unwilling to work and I felt like giving up.
I decided to game plan with him. I asked him to tell me three things he could do to be a productive member of his group. In turn, he told me three students that I should check-in with because he thought they were struggling with the project.
We worked together. We were honest and our relationship was maintained.
This morning that same student gave a brilliant final presentation. It was organized, it was confident and it was rehearsed. He was excellent.
I could not help but wonder what would have happened if I did tell him what I thought of his attitude last week. What would have happened if I let my frustration get the best of me? What would have happened if I gave up on him?
My decision was the right one and also the hardest one to make. I hope that all teachers who are winding down their year can make decisions to stop, breath and talk to their students. To not let the stress, exhaustion and frustration get the best of them and to maintain strong relationships that have been built for a whole year.
I grew a lot from that decision not to get mad and not to turn my back and I hope I can continue to do the same in all my years teaching.