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Teacher Appreciation Day - 10 Reasons Why You Rock

songbin.JPGAs we gear up for Teacher Appreciation Day today, I would like to take a moment to share my deepest gratitude to all of the amazing teachers I've had a chance to work with over the past eight years both in and out of Teach For China and Teach For America, in China, DC, New Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. As someone who makes my living off of teacher development, I'm obsessed with you all.

Ten reasons why you guys rock:

  1. Because even if you choose not to stay in the classroom forever, I know you're doing amazing things for the kids we love and teach. Such as opening up a charter school in DC, starting a non-profit to provide glasses to children in rural China, and being a counselor at Achievement First. You're even working on Teach For China staff! The work never ends and I'm eternally grateful that there is an army of people out there closing the achievement gap around the world from every direction.
  2. Because even if it takes 4 hours to walk up muddy mountain paths to do a home visit, you do it, because you're one of the first teachers to tell Grandma what a harder worker your student is and how much he's improved.
  3. Because even though I wasn't Navajo, over the age of 40 or have a child, you adopted me as one of your own, taught me how to write IEPs and teach math. You also taught me how to make frybread and took me to casinos. Thank you for taking care of me as a first-year teacher.
  4. Because even if classroom management was pretty horrifying your first year teaching and you talked about quitting, you never did give up on your kids. Five years later, you're still going strong. I'm so, so proud.
  5. Because you had way more options available to you than to join a crazy non-profit in China, yet you took the plunge to teach kids in rural Yunnan and Guangdong because you want them to have endless opportunities in life--regardless of testing pressures, financial strains or systemic challenges. And maybe because you're just a little curious to find out what it would be like to live without sit-down toilets or hot water for two years.
  6. Because you have the best Facebook posts about your kids (except on the bad days, and then it's just depressing, but that's life.)
  7. Because you were brave enough to stand in front of a class of high schoolers at Anacostia twice your size who make fun of you and get into fights. And you're not afraid to tell them to sit down and focus on the lesson. And because after a couple weeks with a better management plan and a much better unit plan, they start to listen to you. And by the end of the year, they've got the best math scores in the school.
  8. Because when I was struggling as a teacher, you just let me cry and cry, and then gave me an armful of manipulatives to teach math with.
  9. Because even though you could be lounging on a beach in Thailand over the summer, you've committed to working at Summer Institute to help train our 230 incoming first-year Teach For China Fellows, and help make our training better, year after year. Thank you.
  10. Because even though your 10th graders were labeled "intellectually disabled" and deemed unable to read, you learned everything you could about balanced literacy, wrangled high schoolers to read baby-ish Reading A-Z books, and got them to grow by an average of 2.5 grade levels in reading.

Photo by Huang Songbin, Teach For China 2012-14 Teaching Fellow

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