Thursday, April 14, 2011

International Thank A Teacher Month (#Apr13)

The William Penn Charter School for boys and girlsImage via WikipediaI have just declared that today is International Thank A Teacher Month (or is it this month is Thank a Teacher Day. Or...)

Anyway, I was reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck earlier (more on this book coming soon) and it got me thinking about my own mindset about math classes when I was in school. Also, in the many interviews that I have done while job searching, a common question is to tell about a favorite teacher.

So, I got thinking about Mr. Gordon, my senior year math teacher. Then I thought wouldn't he love to get a letter from a former student thanking him for being such a good teacher. Fortunately, 23 years later, Mr. Gordon is still teaching at the same school. Here is the email that I sent him just before publishing this blog post.
Dear Mr. Gordon,
I am writing to thank you 23 years after graduating from Penn Charter. You were my math teacher in 12th grade and were involved in the drama program with me.
Throughout the last 15 years as an educator myself, I have often been asked to tell about favorite teachers I had. After I speak about Mrs. Wiener, my fifth grade teacher and a family friend, I talk about you and my experiences in your class.
You see, ever since third grade, I believed that I was bad at math. At PC, I struggled in math classes with Mr. Goulding, Mr. Hitschler, and others. Then, I got to 12th grade. I had not done well enough to take calculus, so I was in your senior, pre-calc class. I think it was your first year at Penn Charter.
I admit that I don't recall much of the math that you taught. What I do remember is your attitude. You were fun. You were goofy. You acted like you really enjoyed being in that senior, pre-calc class with us. You chose to have a fantastic attitude.
I remember one day when some of us came to class and had bibles on our desks (I don't recall what class the bibles were for). Well, you took one of the bibles, stood up on your desk and started reading aloud to the class. It was a riot. I think that you even tried to connect that back to math at the end. 
Your attitude must have been infectious because my grades in math were never better.
Well, I still don't think of myself as a math person, but I am willing to consider the possibility. It may have taken 23 years, but I will take another math class again soon. Only this time, I expect no bibles or teachers standing on desks.
Once again, Thank you Mr. Gordon.
Sincerely,
Larry Fliegelman, OPC '88
Elementary Principal
Former 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher

P.S. I am going to post this letter to my blog http://principalspov.blogspot.com Check it out if you want.
If you have a teacher in your past that made a difference (and you better), then please say thank you. That teacher deserves it.