Lest You Think I’m ALL Gloom and Doom (and Pissy, Bitchy)

I’m telling you – despite all the bitching that I do (and believe me, I’ve got just cause…) – I really DO have some fantastic kids that make getting up in the morning SO worth it.

I’ve been decidedly down on my I/II kids lately. Most of them are just not doing the work – they’re not reading the chapters I assign, they’re not answering the questions I ask, they’re not participating in the class conversations I lead – they’re just not showing up, even if their little butts are in the seat.

Notice I said “most of them.”

I’ve got this kid. We’ll call her Shawna. Shawna is a joy. She’s supposed to be in the eighth grade this year, but it was decided that she’d skip a year so she could be a freshman at CHS this September. I was nervous when I first heard that little tidbit of information about her; I was afraid that I’d have an immature little girl in my class, and that she’d be left behind as we forged ahead with complex ideas and a heavy dose of critical thinking.

Man, was I wrong. Shawna is leaving her older peers in the proverbial dust. She’s smart, she’s articulate, she’s funny. She’s observant and insightful. She does the work, she pays attention, and she participates. She spends a fair bit of her class time helping her classmates to see beyond what’s plainly in front of their faces. In short, the kid thrills me on a fairly regular basis.

I got to send home this letter on Friday. It helped to salvage what was left of a pretty tough week. Thanks, Shawna!

Dear Shawna’s Mom and Dad:

So many of the emails I send home are of a decidedly negative nature; I am delighted to be writing to you today to tell you that Shawna is absolutely nailing English class.

We’ve been reading To Kill a Mockingbird in Shawna’s English I/II class, and I’ve been trying to encourage the students to see beyond the story on the page; to consider the implications of a character’s gesture or to take into account the time and place in which the story is set as they think about why characters behave the way they do. Throughout our investigation of this text, Shawna has been – as always – a careful, thoughtful reader and an energetic and valuable contributor to our class conversations.

This morning, I gave the students a quiz on the book in which I asked them questions that required some pretty heavy-duty critical thinking on their part. Shawna’s answers to my difficult questions were nuanced and insightful; she was able to look beyond the obvious to discern the subtleties of the situations I asked about. She answered the essay prompts with clear, mature answers that, quite frankly, delighted me, and I made a point of finding her this morning to tell her so.

Shawna is the kind of student that I love to have in my reading and critical analysis classes. She’s a thinker, a keen observer of her world, and she continually strives to find a way to put her thinking and observations into words so she can share them with others. She is excelling in English class, and I’m truly delighted to have had a chance to work with her.

Have a wonderful weekend,


Mrs. Chili



Filed under admiration, critical thinking, fun, I love my job, parental units, success!, Teaching, the good ones

2 responses to “Lest You Think I’m ALL Gloom and Doom (and Pissy, Bitchy)

  1. I love being able to send home those e-mails. I agree with you that, although a few “bad apples” can ruin my day, I have wonderful students in general and need to appreciate them. I’ll never forget how many former students have come back to tell me how important I’ve been in their lives, for very minor comments or things that I’ve done. It’s almost frightening what an impact we can have. Great job on the e-mail; I know the parents will appreciate it! P.S. My school district almost pulled To Kill a Mockingbird out of the curriculum because they were scared of a lawsuit. My older daughter wrote an impassioned letter to the editor of our local paper to protest that decision. It’s still being taught. 🙂

  2. Trust me, you’re not the only one who thinks that there are weeks at a time when the kids think it’s a good idea to make life Hell. At least with yours it’s the same kids every day, with me I get them one day at a time so there’s no understanding that I’ve dealt with the same behavior and heard the same stupid jokes every day.

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