For one of the first times ever, my students made me cry…in a good way.
My AP English students have been wrapping up their research papers in preparation for doing a synthesis AP essay. As a part of that discussion, the textbook offered a “hook” activity, asking students to reflect on a major decision they had to make and what sources they would look to in order to inform that decision.
The most common one was the decision to attend this high school or pick a college. One of the objectives of my lesson was to consider any bias that could exist with a source, since many authors and publishers have motives in writing their information.
In brainstorming, they said they would obviously look on the school webpage but knew any school, secondary or college, would try to showcase the good and play down – or ignore – the bad. They mentioned talking with parents, alumni, or current students. One person brought up Google reviews and the website RateMyTeacher.com, a site where students can anonymously post reviews of their teachers.
For some reason it seemed like a good idea to pull up this website. I’ve only taught here five months, so surely I wouldn’t be reviewed. The point I was going to make about review sites is that they tend to be biased, because most people who take the time to anonymously post like that do it to vent, not to communicate positively.
But just last week, one of my 77 AP students anonymous posted about me.
On the bright side, they gave me five out of five stars! On the downside, they (somewhat accurately) called me on my abysmal grading procedures first semester, wherein the bulk of my AP students got an A+, despite many not deserving it. I was glad they felt I was sweet, as I do believe it is important for students to know teachers care about them…but it is also my job to teach them, so I felt bad they didn’t think I had done so.
Of course, all these emotions circulating during an AP lecture wasn’t exactly…the optimum time. This is not the first time I’ve thrown something up on the big screen without thinking, but this was a little embarrassing.
My students in that period were incensed. They immediately demanded to know who wrote such a thing; I assured them I didn’t want to know, though I’m sure if they haven’t figured it out by now, they will. Teenagers are scary good at finding out things about each other. It was just unlucky we happened to pull up this website in class, but then again, that’s how the internet works.
Since yesterday, I’ve had students coming up to me to say things like, “Rachel and I were discussing it, and we decided we are actually learning so much in your class – even when we don’t even realize it!” Or, “Your final was kind of easy, but it was a practice AP test, so that means the AP test will be easy, which means you’re doing your job!” I tried not to let it show, but they are going out of their way to make me feel like a good teacher.
But funnily enough, when I went back to the website today to pull a screen shot for this post, I found two more students had posted:
Obviously my class still feels a little too “easy” for an AP class, but knowing that two students took the time to anonymously “come to my defense” on the internet warms my heart and made me tear up just a little during my break.
My other “win” for the week including meeting with a student to discuss job interview skills and help her create a resume, and then her getting hired on the spot at her interview. She sent me the nicest email that night:
My interview this afternoon went exceptionally well and I was hired on the spot! I just wanted to shoot you a quick email to say THANK YOU
again for all of the help and advice you gave me! It really gave me confidence and peace of mind going in today. The manager that
interviewed me was very impressed with the résumé you helped me with, as were my parents! (My mom says that you can write one for her
anytime!) All of the hard work and time you put into what you do is greatly appreciated.
Thank you again so much!
Some days are harder than others, but with eight weeks until spring break, I really, really needed these wins. God is good, and knows exactly what we need when we need it! Happy Friday!
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