At the end of every school year I ask my students to write me a report card. I tell them to give me a letter grade, write one thing they liked about the class, one thing they learned that they will always remember, and one thing they think I need to improve. I never read those letters until the beginning of the next school year (to protect the students, least they should “sting”).
I read the letters today. The majority of the students talked about my messy desk, either as something they would always remember, or something I needed to improve. So, next year I will work on creating an even bigger mess. (Well, they gave no suggestions on how to improve it so obviously I have free reign.)
The several students also complained of being disciplined. One girl said, “I didn’t like it when you caught me using a calculator on the math test and said that was cheating. I really didn’t like it when you called my mom.” One young lady said said, “I don’t think it is fair that kids have to do thier homework at recess just because they don’t do it at home.” Several other students agreed. One cheeky gentleman suggested (with a smiley face) next year just give all your students A’s and they’ll really like you.
Two of my brightest and best male students wrote rather interesting notes. Allow me to share them with you:
Ghetto Report Card
Dear Ms. A.
Thank you for being my teacher this year. One of my favorite things about your class was you taught me how to be a fifth grader. You did not give me grades. I earned them. I also liked that you were my friend.
You taught me a lot of stuff. One thing you taught me that I will never forget would be to pick the right friends.
There was one little thing that bothered me. I think your future students would be happier if you stop yelling and don’t embarass them for no reason, like when they’re talking in class.
It has been a great year. I will miss you terribly. You’re the best.
Contrast that to:
Teacher Report Card
Dear Ms. A.
Since you became my teacher I have had lots of fun, and I’ve learned a lot, too. You have done so many wonderful things this year. Something you do well is believe that each and every student can achieve a high goal. Another thing you do an outstanding job at is preparing us for sixth grade.
You have taught me many things that I will remember all my life. One thing I will remember is to be patient and have confidence in people.
Unfortunately, with the good things come the bad. In my opinion, I wouldn’t want you to change, but I think some kids might take advantage of your kindness. I am not telling you to become mean. Just draw a line somewhere.
A good many of my students talked about my storytelling ability, my strength in teaching them how to write well, and the fact that I occassionally write numbers backward on the board in math. My lowest grade was a B+ — from calculator girl.
Yes, Jenn, I love teaching.