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Moments That Make Teaching Worth It

Dorothy Fox

 Teachable MomentsAll teachers have had those “moments”. Those moments when you are filled with the joy of being present in a child’s life.  A “moment” when you know for sure why you became a teacher.

I have had a multitude of those moments in my 25 year plus teaching career. Some were expected and most were not. I treasure these moments because they are with me always, and they are with my students always too.  

Most of those moments will not even be remembered by those students who made them with me, but they are a part of them and their education nonetheless.  I have had a few other not-so-positive “moments” and I’m sure you have had those too. Those you would love to forget and with time and effort you will. I don’t need to tell you about those moments.

A Moment of Generosity

Last Friday, I had a cool “moment” with my 8th grade study skills class.  This class is comprised of eleven 8th graders who struggle with their studies. They are a very diverse and sometimes very challenging group.  

I use a behavior modification program with them, one that I have used for my entire career.  I use raffle tickets to reward positive behaviors in the class. Tickets can be gained for following directions, doing great work, a positive attitude or just about anything I choose to reward.  The tickets can be used in a weekly raffle or saved for a future raffle. The kids can also donate them to a “class 500″ envelope,  when the number of tickets combined reaches 500, we have a class party.  

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Raffle Rewards

Well, this week we had 2 raffles, as last week I was out on our raffle day. I chose to have the make-up raffle on Thursday. We would have our regular raffle on Friday, as planned.  I had acquired two really great prizes for the raffles, two MP3 players.  Typically, I buy inexpensive gifts and take donations for the prizes we have in the raffle.  These MP3 players were going to be a big hit, I was sure of it.

When I announced that these MP3 players were being added to the prizes,  I could see excitement.  Two boys in particular were very excited and they made it known that they were very much hoping to win, so they could select the MP3 players. On Thursday, neither boy won. One MP3 player was gone!  They were disappointed, but seemed determined to win the next day.

They were going to do their best to get as many tickets as they could. They did a great job on Friday, better then they usually did. They got many extra tickets, they went out of their way to do all of the required work and they worked hard.  They both also completed a goal setting activity, something they had been avoiding. This allowed them even more tickets!

Selfless Students

When the time came for the drawing, I secretly hoped one of them would win.  I never “cheat” for a student, even when I feel they “deserve” to win.  It would invalidate the raffle. I have secretly hoped for a student to win on a particular day, because they had worked hard that week.  

I announced we would have two winners, that day, something I often do to motivate the kids.  I drew the first name and it was indeed one of the boys who really wanted the MP3 player. I was thrilled! I was even more thrilled and had my “moment”, when that student announced that he was giving it to the other kid who really wanted it!  WOW! I was blown away! It was a great moment!  

The student thanked his classmate and was as thrilled as I was.  I made a fuss about how cool it was that he acted so generously .  I picked the second winner and it was the kid who had just gotten the MP3 player from his friend.  He gave his win to his classmate, the one who had given him the MP3 player, another moment!  It was one of the best raffles that I had ever had, in all my years of teaching.  Those moments are why I love to teach!

Share your moments that make the struggles of teaching all worthwhile in the comments section!