Happy teacher appreciation week! Can we all agree that teaching is not an easy job? As teachers, we all know it. And sometimes, it’s a job where we don’t always feel the appreciation we deserve.
During teacher appreciation week, I want to discuss one of the best ways that I’ve found to celebrate.
I want you to stop for a minute and think about why you decided to start teaching. It probably wasn’t so you could be celebrated during teacher appreciation week, was it? So why did you? Think about that for a moment.
We need to remember our why. Taking a moment to reflect on your most memorable moments in the classroom can help you keep your why at the forefront of your mind.
Today I’m going to share my five most memorable teaching moments with you. These memories help remind me of my why.
5. DR. THUNDER PARTY
Let’s count backward and start with my fifth favorite moment.
This particular moment featured an impromptu Dr. Thunder party. It was the end of the school day, and we were beginning to wind things down by cleaning. My students finished up early, which had never happened before. With 30 minutes left on the clock before the dismissal bell rang, I knew I needed to find something entertaining for us to do and fast.
That’s when I remembered the leftover cans of Dr. Thunder that we had kept from a class birthday party. I pulled them out and gave everyone a can—what better thing to drink Dr. Thunder than “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. I turned on the lyric video, and my students began singing along. We were having the best time.
Then all of a sudden, it started actually thundering outside! It was such a fun moment because the students thought it was really special to drink Dr. Thunder, sing the song (unintentionally practicing their fluency and reading skills), and listen to a coincidental thunderstorm at the same time! There was a massive thunderstorm for about 10 minutes which disappeared before we left for the buses.
4. BROKEN ROCKETS
Memory number four could have turned out to be a nightmare, but thankfully turned out okay!
Several years ago, I served as a STEM coach, and I worked with 40 students on a K-2 STEM team. We met every week for two hours a day after school from September to May.
Toward the end of the school year, we decided to have a Saturday picnic where parents could come and see the fantastic work that their students had been completing. We had been working on creating bottle rockets and planned to showcase and launch them at the picnic.
The kids had been making their bottle rockets for four weeks, and I showed them how to launch them. We created them using two-liter soda bottles. We put a little bit of water in them, put a bike pump on them, and began pumping them up with air until they would eventually blast off.
I showed my students how to build these pressurized bottle rockets, but I didn’t realize that I showed them the wrong way!
Instead of keeping the 2-liter bottle intact, I accidentally had them cut it in half, so all the pressure escaped from the bottle, and nothing happened.
So, here we are at our Saturday picnic. Students are enjoying showing their parents their rockets and are having a wonderful time. Then comes the time for the finale. We put the bottle rockets on top of the air pump and began pumping. All of a sudden, my heart sank, and I knew. This wasn’t going to work. Every student’s rocket had the same problem because I had taught them wrong!
We found an extra two-liter bottle, correctly made a rocket and put it on the bike pump. It blasted off the way the others were meant to! Students took turns launching that bottle rocket and still were able to revel in the fact that they made it fly. Although it was really embarrassing, we were able to learn from that experience.
Thankfully the parents were still grateful for all of the work we had done together over the year, and despite some embarrassment on my part, the day was saved.
3. CATCHING A FROG OUTSIDE
This third memory is as interesting as it sounds!
Back in 2015, when I was teaching 2nd grade, we were on our way back from lunch. It rained for days, but on this particular day, the rain had stopped, and the sun had begun to shine. As we arrived in the classroom, we happened to look out the window at our nearby ditch. The ditch was filled with two feet of standing water. All of a sudden, my students noticed something moving in the ditch.
“Ms. Barnett, is that a fish!?” they asked in surprise.
Moments later, we saw two long legs moving through the water. That wasn’t a fish. It was a frog!
It just so happened that we were learning about life cycles in class and already had real tadpoles in our classroom. Seeing this great opportunity, I knew that I needed to catch this frog.
I jumped out the window, rolled my white pants up to my knees, and got down in the murky water to try to catch it. After several attempts, I caught it! Picture a bullfrog the size of a small watermelon, and that’s what I held proudly between my two hands.
The students loved getting to see the giant bullfrog. After I caught it, my students were able to look closely at it. My students also asked me to kiss it to see if it would turn into a prince – we were right in the middle of a fairytale unit, so I know that was their inspiration – so I did! After our kiss, I returned the frog to the flooded ditch where it lived happily ever after.
2. LOOPING TO 3RD GRADE
Memory number two will always be near and dear to my heart.
In 2016 I had the sweetest little second-grade class. I loved them dearly. That year an opportunity arose for me to loop with them to third grade. So, I asked my students what they thought. They loved the idea of it!
I sent home parent request letters to ask parents if they were okay with it and got every single one of them back! This was such a big boost of morale that parents would trust me to teach their students in third grade the following year.
This was a big transition for both of us because our school was actually a primary school with only grades K-2. So to loop with my students, I would be moving to a new school with a new classroom and new coworkers. Thankfully we got to experience this significant change together! It was a really wonderful experience with an amazing group of kids. It’s something I’ll never forget, and I’m so glad I decided to go for it.
1. REVEALING TO MY SON I’M HIS TEACHER
Alright! It’s time for my number one favorite teaching memory of all. Drum roll, please.
In 2019 I decided to leave the classroom and focus on running my Simply STEAM business full time from home. Something I didn’t take into consideration was how lonely it would be. As an extrovert, I wasn’t used to being home alone; I loved being with people!
One day my former principal called to tell me that my son’s Kindergarten teacher would be leaving. They had no one to take her place. She told me that I was the only person she could think of qualified to teach this Kindergarten classroom.
I didn’t want my son to go without a teacher, and I didn’t want to be home and lonely anymore, so I immediately agreed.
I excitedly revealed to my son that I would be taking his teacher’s place. It was such a happy moment for me and something I was thrilled about.
I started back to work on March 16, 2020, and just as soon as I did, the news broke that school was canceled due to COVID-19. I expected it to be special to be my son’s teacher, but what I hadn’t realized was that other parents were going to be their kid’s teachers all across America. It was going to become the new normal. Despite the wild transition into new territory, I truly enjoyed being able to teach my son and have that time with him.
Remember YOUR Why
As we approach the end of the school year, I encourage you to walk down memory lane and think about your why and the moments that have made you appreciate choosing to be a teacher. Even when I don’t get the appreciation I think I deserve, and teacher appreciation week seems to be the extent of our appreciation, I know that I’m in this for the right reasons. Looking back on these moments was a fun way to remember why I’m still teaching and giving it my all daily.
My Gift To You
My gift to you for Teacher Appreciation Week is a week full of freebies!
We all know that Teacher Appreciation Week leads us to the end of the year. With it approaching, it means it’s time to start planning your yearly class party and activities! If you’re looking to make memories with your students, check out this post that discusses my end-of-year class party ideas. My Nacho Average Year party is easy to plan and such a fun time.
This party theme, coupled with my Taco ‘Bout a Good Year memory book, which you can find here on my TPT store, are just the things you need to finish this year off in a memorable way for yourself and your students.
As Teacher Appreciation week continues, I hope that you feel appreciated. Thank you for all that you do for your students. I promise you they will look back and cherish so many of the happy moments in your classroom from this school year.