"Can we do compliments for check in today?" Zach asked in first period. "It feels like a compliment day."
I like it when students pay attention to the moods of the group, and I'm always glad to give them a chance to boost each other up. Compliments for check in mean that you say something you admire about the people on either side of you. Each person gets two compliments and although it takes a little training to pull them away from the superficial "I like your shirt"-types, it can be a real lift for moods and moral.
I didn't think I was especially in need of compliments myself - we're mid-musical auditions which, although time-consuming, are one of my favorite things to do if only because it means I get to see Rachel every day. I really look forward to the days I get to see her. So I might not have needed compliments, but two in particular were really good to hear.
From Victoria: "You're, like, the most fun teacher who's roamed the earth (Scott, aside, "Literally!"). You're happy all the time and you really seem to like what you do, and your classes are really good."
I've been worried lately that I'm too grumpy. I do feel like I've lost some of the energy and passion I had for teaching I had before. Some of it is a tough year (personally that is. This is certainly not nearly the toughest job-wise), some of it probably comes from settling - from doing a job for 11 years and for doing virtually the same job for 3. It's doing yet another play with yet another group of kids with the token goofy nerd, the skater-slacker-clown who gets in trouble with every other teacher, the pair of always-cheerful and friendly girls, the quirky-clothes and really smart girl, the smart and really sociable boy, and all of the rest of the types that show up in every class. I love them as characters, I love them as individuals, and I love them as a group; and I do try to express my affection. I feel less joyful overall though, and I've worried that these kids aren't getting the full Waterhouse experience, such as that is. Which is why it meant a lot to me to hear Victoria specifically contradict a lot of my degrading self-talk.
From Kate: "I feel like you put in a lot of work for us that we don't see; that you do so much for us that sometimes you don't even have time for yourself. I appreciate that, and I'm amazed that you do that and you put up with us and you don't flip out on us or lose it all the time."
It's nice to be acknowledged for the work unseen. It's not just that I
want my time to be recognized, although that is nice, but rather because
a comment like that shows a student who can see a teacher as a human
being and who recognizes what other people do, rather than taking such
things for granted. It's maturity and perspective and gratitude all
rolled up and sincerely articulated by a teenager. And isn't that extraordinary?