177 Days

The last 177 days have more than changed my life. I started this year with an idea that I could help make math better for students that have never enjoyed it before. I started the year with a belief that all students could learn math at a high level and a dream that I could use this year to prove that to the doubters. Most of all I started the year with hope. Hope that I could dedicate each day, each moment to making a difference in kid’s lives.   Since that start 177 days have passed. Some days were nearly perfect while others nothing went right. Some days I had abundant patience and others I regret being too sharp with my words or not understanding enough of a student’s situation. Some days I felt like a master teacher and others it didn’t seem I was any better than a first year teacher on their first day of school. In the end though no matter how each individual moment, lesson, or day went as a whole these 177 days have been life changing for me. I will never again be the same teacher I was 177 days ago.   I will push myself harder next year and keep going. After these 177 days I can never turn back. I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to thank those that made the last 177 days possible.

 To my students,

I will never forget the look on your faces as you sat through my first class making paper airplanes and listening to my crazy stories. You looked half excited and half afraid that you ended up in room 406. I can never thank you enough for going along with me for the last 177days. Thank you for sticking with me when the lesson was boring or when I changed my mind about what we were going to do 5 minutes in because I had an idea. Thank you for always making every day special. I hope I told you enough that I believed in you because I do more than you will ever know. Even more than that I need to say thank you to you for believing in me. Being your teacher has been the greatest honor of my life. There are so many things I want you to remember about our class and none of it involves 7th grade math content. These are the things I want you to remember the most:

Math isn’t hard

No one is born good at math

When things get tough watch a Kid President video

The key to success is….(I’ll keep that our little secret)

You are special

When in doubt eat a corn dog

No one likes banana onion yogurt OR Kim Kardashian math

And the number one thing I want you to remember is that hard work beats just being smart EVERY TIME. You all have proven that to be true again and again. Never let anyone convince you otherwise.

Remember that no matter where life takes you once you are one of my students you are one of my kids for life. There is always a place for you in 406. Thank you for the chance to be your teacher. I will forever be grateful.

To the Parents,

I am not sure I ever understood the trust you place in me until I had kids of my own in school. Although there were times when I am sure you were frustrated with me I hope you know that I tried my hardest every day to be exactly the kind of teacher I would want my own kids to have. Sometimes I shudder when I think about the things your child probably came home and told you. Things like we watched family guy in class (I promise it was 15 seconds and was a great lesson!), that we were gambling and playing the lottery, or that they didn’t have math homework again. Thank you for the kind e-mails thanking me for being a teacher, they always seemed to come at just the right time when I needed the encouragement the most.   I am afraid I do need one more favor from you though. Please help me keep up their positive spirit about learning math. I know math may have been hard for you in school but please don’t tell them it is okay to be bad at math. They like you may have had bad math experiences in the past but that doesn’t define their (or your) future! Remind them every chance you get that hard work always beats just being smart. They have proven that to be true every day.

I know I am not telling you anything new when I tell you how special your children are. It has been an absolute honor to teach them. Thank you for sharing 177 days of their lives with me.

To my administrators and co-workers

Thank you for always pushing me to be better. Thank you for the encouragement on the bad days and becoming more than co-workers but a family to me. To my teammates, thank you for going along with my crazy ideas, for agreeing to an unorthodox schedule to help me realize my own goals, for being my sounding board, and for being my safe place. To the co-workers who have become friends thank you for laughing with me, for keeping me grounded and reminding me that to be a good teacher you have to make time for fun.

 To Joe,

You took such a big chance when you decided to leave your comfort zone in 6th grade and come work with me in 7th and for that I will always be thankful. You have made me a better teacher than I could have ever been on my own. Thank you for listening to my ideas and sharing yours. Thank you for making me slow down when you knew I was getting in over my head. Thank you for having a good day when I was having a bad one. Thank you for picking up the slack when I lacked. I have had the chance to work with a good number of collaborating teachers and am sure there will be more of them in my future but I can without a doubt say that you are the most inspiring and dedicated special education teacher I will ever have the privilege of working with. Thank you for taking a chance on me.

 To Jackson and Embry,

Thank you for sharing your mom with 120 other kids who needed me too.   I have no doubt that it isn’t always easy having a teacher for a mom but you both handle it like champions. No matter what I am able to do in my life, the two of you will always be my greatest accomplishment.

In the end

I realize this probably seems like overkill to some. It isn’t like I am retiring, changing schools, or leaving the profession but I am coming to the end of a life changing year and to me that is profound in its own right. Here’s to the next 177 days and the next 120 kids.

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