As I press forward with the blog, I’ll post former Reflections of my first few years as teacher.
Here’s the first. It’s a Reflection that I wrote at the end of last year where 91 percent of my kids passed the Reading S.T.A.A.R. and 87 percent passed the Math S.T.A.A.R. They earned it, too. They were a tough bunch that overcame several obstacles to succeed. Enjoy.
Sunday’s Reflection: “They Were Phenomenal”
As I took my “Walk With God”, I thought about how “They Were Phenomenal.”
When I woke up Thursday (5th Grade Graduation Day), I had received a very reflective Thank You letter from one of my students.
Dear Mr. Short,
It’s been a wonder in The Phenomenal Room. I’d never had a teacher like you. I’d know we’d had our ups and downs, but you gave me a chance that no other teacher gave me. That chance was a new start (and) not a lot of people get those.
Even though it was a rocky school year, you let me help. Those times when I talk to people to calm them down, even teaching the class meant something to me. I’m sorry for the things I’ve done. And I don’t know if you notice, but I think this is your most unique class.
I know this is probably the worst writing I’ve ever had, but I mean everything I said.
Ending on a high note, I’ll never forget you.
5th Grade 2017-2018
It was a terrific way to start my last day with my kids. As my students entered the classroom, I greeted them for final time. They were suited, booted and dressed to the nines, too.
Following morning announcements, I circled up with this group of kids for the last time.
It wasn’t a regular circle up. It was “The Phenomenal Talk” circle up. I shared the three tips to be Phenomenal.
1. Remember Your Why’s
2. Be Consistent
3. Be Phenomenal
Shortly after that, the kids got ready for their Graduation. Then they marched to the Cafeteria.
Once the students were seated, the program began. Parents were welcomed and then the President List award recipients were announced. (The award for students who maintained a 90 or above average from 1st to 5th grade.)
Seven of my students were awarded. One of my prouder moments as a teacher.
Each teacher could recognize their graduates. When my turn came, I gave my scholars a few words of encouragement: “Be leaders, not followers and don’t ever accept anything less than Excellence.”
At one point, I decided to praise one of my students. He had been with me since day one. He was the leader of The Greatness Room and then The Phenomenal Room. (He received a loud ovation, which was richly deserved.)
My benediction to my students was Be what…
They responded (In Unison): Phenomenal!!!
To end the graduation, it was announced that the school had made it to Tier 1 status and that this group of 5th Graders was the highest-performing in history of Thompson Elementary…too cool.
After the graduation, parents celebrated their kids and thanked the teachers for everything that they had done for them.
Eventually, my kids made their way to the classroom for the After-Party.
I thanked the parents for helping during the year. And then shared that it was a long and trying year. Several kids experienced losses, my dad had a stroke and my grandmother died. If it wasn’t for the kids, I wouldn’t have shown up to work.
I also shared that it was a special group. Most teachers have one or two stories from a year. My whole classroom has one.
And that wasn’t me engaging in hyperbole. Here are few.
One student went from R.T.I. to Honor Roll. Another student went from “struggling reader” to “Advanced” on the Reading S.T.A.A.R. test. A third student went from kicked out of one school to a “Star Student” at his new one. A fourth student overcame the death of her mother to stay on Honor Roll.
Finally, one student went from a shy, nervous girl to become “Ms. Phenomenal”, the embodiment of the classroom’s expectation.
There are several more I could share.
I stopped flapping my gums and let my kids enjoy each other. They munched on snacks, danced, received their “Why’s” and finished signing The Phenomenal Board, which they did upside down. (I told the kids that it’d be funny years from now.)
A few students started trickling out.
Before one of my students left, I gave her the Phenomenal words off the wall since it made her “smile.” I told her to put it on her wall and when she’s having a bad day, look up at them. She’s planning to become a teacher. I can’t wait to hire her to the Phenomenal Leadership Academy.
While the party was going on, one of my students, who received a journal as a graduation gift, was already chronicling the school year with chapters already written.
Most of my students stayed around to the bell.
Someone even commented: “You got a lot of kids here.” (I guess my kids wanted to cherish those final moments.)
They dismissal bell rang. So, I chanted one final time: Be what…
Reflecting, I wasn’t sad to see my kids go, because I know that they’re ready for the next level.
How could they not be? They experienced pain, loss, endured criticism and “accomplished” so much despite it.
They were resilient. They were leaders. They were unique.
I’m going to miss them.
They were Phenomenal.
I leave you with three things from my student.
1. Look into the future.
2. Believe in your dreams.
3. Be Phenomenal.
God Bless, Jeremiah
Tomorrow: The Phenomenal Student(Attendance)