Monday, September 29, 2014

The Power of Positive Emails

I am not a fan of Mondays.

I am in at work even earlier than normal in order to combat the frazzled feeling I will get coming back from the weekend and not feeling prepared.

Even when I get into work early, I still end up feeling a little frazzled somehow. Today was no different with my students being just as frazzled as I was.

Normally, at the end of Mondays, I just sit at my desk for a few minutes and go on Imgur, Facebook, something mindless.

Today I decided to do something different. I decided to make a student and parent's Monday.

There is a sophomore that I had last year as a freshmen. Bright kid just very forgetful and unorganized. They would constantly have missing assignments or work turned in late which frustrated their parents to no end.

I have them again this year and it is a complete turn around. There are no missing or late assignments and it is obvious tests and quizzes have been studied for. The student is currently earning an "A-"

I decided to email their parents, while cc'ing the student, informing them that I am very proud of their child. The repsonse back was immediate and happy:

Thank you so much!  It is wonderful to hear!

You made our Monday!

Yes, my school has live grading so yes, my parents can easily log in to see how their child is doing. I could have easily assumed that the parents are doing this. For all I know, they are and are fully aware of their child's grade. However, just this little email validated what they see. It made what otherwise is a crappy day by default into something to smile about.

Now, with 120 students, there is no way I can constantly do this. The time it would take me to compose a "happy" email for each student a week would be insane. However, I'm totally for this when a teacher sees something extraordinary. It reminds me of the Taylor Mali poem "What Teachers Make"* and the line where he says:

"I make parents see their children for who they are/
And who they can be"

I knew what this child could be. I've known since last year. Yeah, a grade can tell the parents what their child could be but by sending that one, small, little email, I am able to make them see who their child is not just a number in the gradebook.

It is why I teach. It is why I love my job even on Mondays and even when I complain.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

*If you have never heard this poem, below is a drawing of it done by Zen Pencils and also a video of the poem performed by Taylor Mali himself

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