Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Takes a Compliment

I not ashamed to say I am the queen of being able to explain away a compliment. Tell me I have nice teeth, and I will tell you about the years of painful orthodontia it took to get them. Notice I might have lost a few, and I will tell you all about the hours upon hours of spin class it took to make it happen. Compliment me on something I'm not prepared with a sarcastic remark for, and I will nullify your nice words with a simple, 'you're nice, but you don't know what you're talking about'.

Yesterday we had an assembly honoring the smart kids in the school, and during the ceremony the student body president announced the winners of the 'Teacher of the Year' poll that the kids had taken a few weeks back. There were ten teachers' names announced, and mine was one of them. I really couldn't believe my ears at first because I'm new to the school and thought I didn't know enough students to really have had a chance at it, not to mention the cacophony of groans I am greeted with pretty much every day I say the words 'take out your English notebooks'.

I climbed through the crowd of teenagers saying, 'Cool teacher coming through', and took my seat among the other teachers in the middle of the gym. The art teacher won the most votes (of course-- art teachers are always the coolest) and took an actual trophy back to his classroom, and the rest of us got Starbucks gift certificates and a round of applause. I must say, after a very long, long, looooooong and difficult school year, the recognition was nice. I spent the next hour or so thinking that in a school with a billion students and a million teachers, I must be doing something right.

Then the self-doubt set in. Maybe I was only voted for because my kids think I'm a pushover. Maybe I was only voted for because only a handful of students voted anyway, the rest of them throwing away their ballots because they didn't think any of their teachers deserved the honor. Maybe I would be hated among the veteran teachers at my school, resented for taking away an award they thought they deserved over me.

I went to my mailbox and found the stack of ballots the kids had cast for me. Not only had they written my name (some of them even spelled it correctly), but they all wrote a few words saying why I was their teacher of the year. Here are some of the highlights:

She's nice and doesn't yell at us unless she's really mad
She made my writing sound better
I don't want to fall asleep in her class
If I have a problem I can go to her and she will help me
and the holy grail of teaching compliments... the equivalent of angels singing from on high:
She makes learning fun

Sometimes a woman in her thirties needs to stop making excuses for her accomplishments. Sometimes she gets to sit back, sip her Nonfat Grande Chai Latte, and agree with the masses.


  1. Dude, you are the COOLEST! I'm so proud of you!!

  2. Rose, what an honor! Forget the recognition, the comments from the students are awesome. You are definitely in my top 2 favorite teachers... :)

  3. This one was my ultimate fav!

  4. This honesty is SO refreshing.. I'm catching up from January, love it

  5. Are all of these going to make me cry?

  6. Art Teachers are the coolest but Ms E is the BEST!