Each student that enrolls in the high school is set up with their classroom teachers, a guidance counselor, and an adviser ...
Classroom teachers (like me) are the people that are responsible for running the courses, teaching the lessons in an online format once a week, grading assignments, and basically communicating with students and their families as often as possible.
Guidance counselors, much like those at traditional schools, help the students with their course schedules and force them to look beyond high school at the bigger picture ... Will they attend college? If so, which one? What graduation tests are required for admittance?
Advisers, although they also work with students, focus more on the parent end and keep track of a student's attendance and overall performance in the virtual school ...
So, all of that to say ... As my work day wrapped up on Friday, I received an email in my work inbox from an adviser that is assigned to one of my students. The email itself was super short.
Merely three sentences long ...
But the message inside was so, so much bigger:
Hi Emily. I spoke with student's mom today and she gave you a big compliment. You are the best teacher student has ever had.That was it.
Short and syrupy sweet.
It's hard to explain the feeling that swept over me.
While I was (and still am) extremely humbled, I couldn't help but feel sort of undeserving at the same time.
I've only been "teaching" at this school for a little over two months.
I don't ever see these students face to face ... I am lucky if I get to work with them during a live, online classroom session or if I get to speak to them by telephone once or twice a month.
I can't say that I've ever seen this student at any of those online sessions.
I've never spoken to this student on the phone (although I talked with the student's mother at length before our Thanksgiving Break).
All I have done is answer a couple of questions through the school's email system. I have extended deadlines and offered alternate assignments to bring up grades.
I have done nothing that I would consider remotely above or beyond ...
To top it off ... THIS STUDENT ISN'T EVEN PASSING MY CLASS!
And yet, to this mother, I am the best teacher her child has ever had.
It's honestly small moments like these that pull a teacher through tthe doldrums that often encompass the educational system. It's moments like these that validate all the hard (and often unforgiving) work.
It's moments like these that tell me I've truly chosen the right career.
Maybe I'm doing an okay job, after all.