Unsung Hero (n.): one who does great deeds but receives little or no attention.
Thursday I had a conference after school with the parents of one of my students.
She has a B in my class.
At the end of a nine weeks period, perhaps overloaded with a full plate of responsibilities and the stress of preparing for the PARCC Assessment, she had bombed a test and flunked another side project. I had been surprised, but the damage had been done, and there was no doubt in my mind she would bounce back. She’s a good kid. I’m not worried.
Her father listened calmly to my account late Thursday afternoon, leaning back in the board room chair at the end of the conference room’s table, and put down the newspaper he’d brought. He rubbed his temples with the thumb and middle fingers of one hand, and stretched the other arm out toward me, punctuating his response by tapping the table: “Seems like a little more communication from you would have been appropriate.”
He seemed to be pointing fingers at me, the teacher, which is not the way I’d choose to build student responsibility.
But he was also absolutely right about the communication.
While I may disagree with the idea of staying in constant contact with parents regarding their children’s grades (we have an online grade checker already set up for parents, and I do believe in building student responsibility), this parent is spot-on about my lack of communication.
I want to take a moment to address the B students in my classes, the quiet ones, and the ones who show up on time every day:
Thank you. You are wonderful. You are the reason I love my job.
Most of the time, my attention gets pulled to the classmates of yours who are struggling, who need my help, and sometimes to those who want to disrupt your education. I try to make sure I still find time to let you know how valuable you are, but adults are not perfect, and sometimes I accidentally let you get away without reminding you.
You may have a B in my class. You rarely get the recognition for a job well done that the kids with A’s get. But you are no less awesome. Earning a B in my class is hard, dude, and yet you’re pulling it off with style. Sometimes, when you slip and fail on something, I don’t say anything because I have no doubt that it won’t happen again. You will accomplish so many cool things in life. The future looks really bright for you.
You may never raise your hand to answer questions. You just come in, do your work quietly, and turn it in, never seeking attention, never needing me to constantly get on your case. Have I told you lately how much you rock for that? Without kids like you, I would be tearing my hair out. Trust me.
Or maybe you’re one of the ones who just shows up every day, on time, and follows the rules. You see kids slipping gum into their mouths when my back’s turned, or checking the phones on the sly, and they don’t always get caught, but you always decide not to, because you’re all about doing the right thing. You rock. You will grow up to be the “glue” of America. Without people like you, we’d have craziness. I’m so proud just to know you.
Anyway… Yeah, I try to let every one of my students know how awesome they are, and I try to keep parents updated on how their kids are doing. But some kids are just so awesome, I’m never worried about them. So just in case I forget to say it again, here’s to the B students, the quiet ones, and the rule followers. You make teaching wonderful.