Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Just the right words

at Two Writing Teachers!
At the end of the school day today, I trudged down to the office with some student work to put in teacher mailboxes, my feet and eyelids heavy.  In the span of a week, we've had state ELL testing, parent conferences, and preparations for student scheduling. On top of that, we've dealt with some serious emotions and several social conflicts among our students.

Lately, I've also been struggling with where my students are in their learning.  So many of them have come so far since the fall, but many also still have a long way to go to reach where I want them to be.  With the year more than halfway over, I've been feeling disappointed that we haven't reached the blissful classes full of voracious readers and inspired writers that I was envisioning.  (This is why I have to keep reminding myself to celebrate the small successes!)

Anyway, when I looked in my mailbox after school, I found an irregularly-shaped interoffice mail envelope awaiting me.  Grinning, I knew there was a 99% chance that my mom's handwriting would be on the outside.  Oh boy!  Funny-shaped envelopes from my mom are the best, because she delights in sending me little surprises.  Sure enough, there was my name in her familiar lettering.

First, a neat little collection of various sticky notes in a tiny hardcover notebook! (ooh, she knows how I love sticky notes!) Next, I pulled out a copy of the latest Teaching Tolerance magazine, which has an article and a poster about having a school culture that welcomes and supports ELLs.  On the front, my mom wrote me this note:
That's right, my mom still calls me "Sweet Pea"!
Her words were exactly what I needed to hear.  I am doing it.  I'm making a difference.  I may not be doing it perfectly or even wonderfully, and it might not be going exactly like I'd hoped, but I am "doing good".  As Ruth wrote a few weeks ago, I am enough. Teaching ELLs was my dream because I wanted to change lives, and I am living that dream.  Everything I do every day makes a difference, even if it's small.

Just like that quotation from Galatians 6:9 says, someday I will get that "harvest" if I keep working hard. (In fact, a harvest is really just picking a whole bunch of little plants, and I've already seen some of them ripen!)  When I feel weary, I will pick myself back up and keep going.  I will not give up.

My students need me and I will never truly grow tired of doing good for them.


  1. This is beyond cute. Your mom sent you the perfect message through interoffice mail. It doesn't get much better than that. :)

  2. How lucky you are to have such an intuitive mom! I'm glad her words were able to pick you up today. Just remember your slicing pals are in awe of the work you do. You do make a difference! Stay strong!

    1. Thanks, elsie. Your encouragement and support every Tuesday means so much!

  3. How lucky you are that mom works in the same district and understands your life! I wish I had this!

    Anyway...I wanted to make sure that you saw my reply to you from your comment on my blog. I think you do amazing work with your ELL students. Here's what I wrote on my blog:

    "You are like me! You just have a different clientele. My kids know the language and know how to read. They just quit doing it! Don't give up. Your students need the 10 minutes more than mine do!"

    1. I know I am so lucky, Deb! My mom was an English teacher before she became a principal, and she is such an inspiration to me. (She's also just really sweet!)

      Thank you so much for your encouraging reply. It's hard sometimes to remember how unique my students are, and their needs can be overwhelming. I'm trying so hard to give them my best though, and inspiring mentors like you are a big help!

  4. Jennifer, as I've written to you before, I think you are doing such amazing things with & for your students. I tell other teachers about the little games you devise to get students to talk, etc. It all sounds like big challenges to me, but you make it sound easy. Your mom must have 'felt' something, & so the sweet surprise. How fun to get a gift in the school mail like that. Teaching Tolerance is a terrific magazine. You can sign up for their e-mails too. I like the way you did your post with all the links. It was great.

  5. What a sweet surprise! Moms know best, huh? Our jobs as educators is not an easy one by any means. And it's only becoming more and more difficult and the demands are high and sometimes the support and encouragement are missing. (Hey, we need it just as much as our kiddos!) But your Mom stepped in just when you needed it!

  6. So sweet! That's a really nice note!


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