How to Appreciate a Teacher

For some reason, we had Teachers’ Appreciation Day last week instead of this week. More proof, apparently, that Lynnwood, Washington is ahead of the curve. It was a low-key affair, with a free lunch provided by the Parent Club and a few gifts from some of my students.

But for me, the appreciation came a week earlier. That’s when we had our district-wide STEM Expo. A STEM Expo is essentially a science fair open to fourth through twelfth graders, and it’s completely voluntary on the part of teachers and students. I decided to have my students participate, mostly because I like teaching science, technology, engineering and math.

We did a project involving angles. The students built stomp rockets and found out which angle was best in terms of sending a rocket the greatest distance. (45 degrees won in a decisive victory over 30 degrees and 60 degrees, in case you’re interested.)

The kids had fun building and flying their rockets. They also enjoyed creating their display boards, especially the group that smuggled glitter into my classroom and didn’t quite get all of it onto their project. Grr. They learned a lot about angles, predictions, writing, teamwork, and how scientists control variables during experiments.

And then came the STEM Expo. For context, you need to know that my school serves a fairly high-needs population. Our parents work hard, many in the service industries, and many in multiple jobs. They’re busy. We usually get about 30-40% turnout for evening events, including Curriculum Night. Curriculum Night, the night when you first meet the person with whom your child will spend 35 hours per week for the next ten months.

For STEM Expo, I had 24 of my 26 students show up. It was unprecedented. I put in a lot of extra effort for STEM Expo and almost every family responded by taking their kid to an evening event to share and celebrate their learning.

They didn’t do it for me, of course; they did it for their child. Nonetheless, they were supporting what I do for their kids in the classroom, so I took it personally.

I felt appreciated.

3 thoughts on “How to Appreciate a Teacher

  1. Kristina Saunders

    I appreciated the details. Knowing that 45 degree angles beat out the competition was a side note that showed what students had discovered and learned. I am SOOOO glad there was such a high turnout. Parents are crazy busy trying to provide for their families. Finding the time to support their children as people – the importance cannot be overstated. What a gift your learning project and the school’s STEM fair provided for 24 young people in this world!

  2. Barney Peterson

    I totally agree that evidence of partnership between families and teachers is the best appreciation we can give/receive. The students obviously shared their pride of achievement with their families and the parents came in support of that. Bravo to teacher, students and families.

  3. Tracy Diane Lusby

    Glitter! I’m curious as to the strategy used to smuggle said glitter inside. I’ll be sure to watch out for it. For me, I watch for students giggling or smiling at their laps, a sure sign one of my 8th graders are snap chatting or trolling images under their desk while I’m giving directions. This is the first year I’ve considered a no cell phone policy. I’m sad. The power of a computer in their pocket as a tool to promote life-long learning is powerful. But, this year, cyber-bullying is rampant and I’ve witnessed some pretty awful misuse of electronics. I’ve yet to find a solution to meld safe exploration.

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