Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Very Happy Day

Friday was graduation day for my student
teachers. (Don't they look like true professionals?! :-) I was so proud of them!

Although it was the very last class session I would teach at MSU before graduating with my Ph.D., it it was still a day filled with little happinesses for me. Dr. Fendler began the morning by giving a nice speech to the class about the importance of developing "generosity of spirit" in our teaching careers. (Hmmm, I think I need to do some serious improving in that area). She then presented me with a bouquet of flowers as a token of appreciation for my service to the world language program at Michigan State.

One of my student teachers created a parody about their internship experience this year that was based on the One Semester of Spanish Love Song. (You have to watch the video first in order to fully appreciate the parody!)

Several other students had prepared "paper plate awards" for everyone in class, including me! Someone captured my reaction when they read it aloud:

Here is the award they gave me:

I was surprised and humbled by the allusion.

In order to fully understand the remainder of this post, you first need to take the True Colors Survey. (It is only 5 questions long. Wait for all the flashing to quit, then drag the numbers into the circles.)

Mouse over the bar graph that will appear at the end in order to see a very basic interpretation of the results. If you want more details, take a few minutes to read through Jennifer Niskanen's True Colors Pages. For those of you who REALLY want the information to be "all about you, and only about you" scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the colors that apply to you.

My student teachers took the True Colors survey at the beginning of the year. It gave us some new perspectives on our relationships with one another (and why our relationships with certain people sometimes break down). It also provided us with quick language we could use to help us describe problems and sketch out potential solutions. It influenced our interactions deeply.

(This is their visual representation of some of the key characteristics of the various colors.)

Consequently, it was incredibly amusing to me to see them appear in my class on the last day wearing these shirts, and, because I am definitely part blue, it was also very touching to be presented with my very own t-shirt. It captured our journey together very poignantly!

My class even gave me a standing ovation when I was introduced as their instructor at Convocation!

(Team Advanced Low refers to the fact that student teachers are now required to demonstrate that they have achieved Advanced Low Proficiency in the language they intended to teach in order to be certified.)

Meanwhile, a student who was not even in my class stopped me in the hallway to express his appreciation for my work on our class wiki, explaining that the materials on the Getting a Job page had been helpful to him in constructing his portfolio and preparing for interviews.

I could go on and on about the surprise e-mails I received from former student teachers, as well as several professional invitations that also coincidentally appeared on that same day . . . not to mention an impromptu invitation to dine with friends that evening.

It was a wonderful day--one that restored a lot of confidence, one that reminded me that it is really true that you grow to love those you serve, one that suggested that the Lord is intervening in my life more than I might suspect, and one that encouraged me to believe that maybe I am making more of a difference than I realize.


Mary said...

It was so FUN to have that last class together! And the paper plate awards could not have been more entertaining! And yes, you are making more of an impact that you realize, without a doubt. It's funny how life works that way.

Welch Mom said...

You sound like a true inspiration, which is what teaching is all about!

jenn said...

I must say that I'm not surprised that your students found you so inspiring. You definitely have so many gifts and I have been inspired by you, for sure. I'm glad your students and others took the time to thank you and remind you of the good you're doing, too. I've found that in my job (as a therapist--similar to a teacher in that we're trying to help others become their best selves), it's rare to hear that feedback from my clients and coworkers. I try to not rely on that too much, but it feels so good when it comes. BTW--I'm pretty even between gold, green, and blue. I'm one point higher on gold than the others. Hmmm.... that was fun!

Cherice said...

Thanks, Jenn! I have a friend who is a marriage and family therapist. We have had lots of conversations about how parallel our jobs are, and in particular, around the idea that counseling IS teaching. As you said, it is a way of mediating people's thinking to help them grow.

It is funny b/c I was just thinking what a great professor you would make. You are SO encouraging. It is amazing how just a few little drops of it make a person feel like blooming! Education could learn a LOT from you! ;-)

Well, no wonder we get along so well. I am very green, very blue, somewhat gold, and not very orange at all. (However, I should say that grad school has made me want to ignore the gold and become totally orange. Pretty dangerous, if you ask me!) ;-)

Yeah, I'll be interested to see if you ever end up using this with your clients. It has been really useful to me in helping some of my students parents to better understand why they have such difficulty relating to some of their children.