#ReflectiveTeacher Post 9
The Unspoken Accomplishments
What is it that a teacher really accomplishes? Is it accolades from administrators, district higher ups, certificates, awards, units, or new degrees? Is it when a parent says, “You know what Ms. Simmons you are the best teacher my child ever had.” Is it an accomplishment when the principal calls and asks you to move into a position of leadership? Is it when students get excited because they have learned something new?
The really interesting thing, I feel my greatest accomplishments are not my accomplishments at all. They are the accomplishments of my students and they are shared with me. I believe I had something to do with them, but I know they are not mine alone.
So here is one of my greatest accomplishments in teaching. This is the story of a student. A student who struggled with authority, was very confrontational, and quite used to being the center of attention in a negative way. Every day was a battle for him. He had many triggers and many different behaviors that accompanied those triggers. But, boy some days he could be a real angel. Those were the days I longed for and the days that gave me the audacity to hope that I could make a difference in his life.
He came to me in fourth grade. He worked hard. His mother and father worked hard. I worked hard. His team at my school worked hard to craft consistent expectations, rewards, incentives, and help to increase his self efficacy. His classmates worked hard. They were forgiving of certain behaviors. They learned to hold high expectations for themselves, so his behavior didn’t lead to whole class disruptions. We learned to work together for the good of the group. So much so that at the end of the year I wanted to loop with them to 5th grade. I didn’t want to lose the momentum of progress this group of students had gained. I wanted to see these students through. With my principal on board our work continued into the 5th grade. We worked hard and we had a great time. It wasn’t easy, but we got it done.
Recently this young man came to visit me. He said, “You know what Ms. Simmons I have matured. I have learned to control my anger and I am doing well.” Our conversation was short. But I was more than proud. Is this accomplishment mine? Probably not. It is his for sure. But these are the accomplishments I hold dear. More dear than any of the possibilities mentioned above. My greatest unspoken accomplishments are the days where patience, support, and high expectations give a child enough time and hope to mature into the kind of person they really want to be.