Students teach us how to be better. Every year we learn a lot from the children in our classrooms. To celebrate our students making us better, our last staff meeting of the year is dedicated to “that student.” I send out an email similar to the one below a few weeks before the final meeting of the year to explain the celebration and what is needed to pull it off at the busiest time of the year:
It’s hard to believe, but the time has come for our end-of-the-year celebration of “that student.” I think this is a tradition we started about seven years ago, and it has never failed to be the perfect way to wrap up the year. Crestline teachers know that the importance of our work lies in the relationships we have with our students.
Since we have lots of new folks, I have also attached a few pictures I took from last year to give you an idea of the event.
So with that . . . please think of “that one student.” I know you have several, but you must pick ONE (that means you, Jessica Smith!).
This is the student who has taught you more than you could ever teach them. They’ve taught you how much you love to be a teacher, or they’ve taught you how hard it is to be a teacher, or they’ve taught you how important it is to choose this profession. This is a student whom, for whatever reason, you will never forget. They made you better at what you do. You will then write a one-pager that tells the story. Nothing fancy—just write from your heart. You will be given time at our staff meeting next week to begin writing; please bring your device.
Please add the student you have chosen next to your name in the shared link [link to Google Doc is provided here].
Do not worry if another teacher has chosen the same student. It is always interesting to gain another perspective. I have listed the names of folks who are here during our staff meetings. We welcome our wonderful playground, office, ELL, and LS staff, and all others who work with Crestline kids, to write about a student and join us for this special day. Please just add your name and student name to the list!
I will come around to take a photo of you and your student. At our staff meeting, you will read and respond in silent graffiti fashion about the amazing relationships your colleagues have formed with Crestline kids.
Pick a student.
Write about them.
Print out a hard copy and put it in Melanie’s mailbox by May 21.
Pose for a photo with the student—I’ll begin as soon as I have names on the Google Doc.
3:30, May 23—staff meeting in cafeteria; bring a pen.
I take photographs of teachers with “their student” and mount the photo along with their one-page writing on large sheets of butcher paper. These papers go up on the walls of the gym.
As teachers arrive for the meeting, I asked them to form a circle where I instruct them on the rules for the hour:
This is “silent graffiti” time. There is no talking. Instead, the time is spent quietly reading the writing of your peers, reflecting on it, and then writing a response on the butcher paper.
There is no order—move about the room in any order.
I will ring a chime when just a few minutes are left and another chime to signal a return to the circle for a group reflection on the experience.
This year will mark our eighth “That Student” Celebration. I am heartened every year, because no matter how stressed or pushed for time our teachers are at this time, they simply will not let the tradition go. This ritual brings into full focus why we do this work.