Monthly Archives: July 2011

Dear Mr. Bowman: End of the Year Thank You Notes

Often, teaching feels like a bit of a thankless job, but there are moments when I have realized that no, in fact, it is not. It’s difficult, emotional, and it’s incredibly easy to lose perspective with the day to day grind, but it’s not thankless. Lot’s of people are incredibly thankful of the work that we do, none more so than the lab rats that are forced to sit in front of us 45 minutes a day for 9 straight months. They seem to appreciate any attempt to make your classroom more than just a knowledge factory. It’s easy to forget that they are thankful when it’s 3 am and you are cleaning puke off of someone’s floor, or when a student has been negotiating with you for 12 minutes about a single point on a test, or when you have a group of 18 unruly teenagers for two periods in a row on a Thursday afternoon because the school moved your block that is normally comfortably in the morning to the last period of the week to accommodate a school assembly.

But the emails I received from students at the end of the year were a perfect reminder that, yes, students are very thankful. And just like they mean more to me than receptacles of math and science goodness, I seem to mean more to them than just an equation pusher.

So below are snippets from some of the (completely unprompted) emails I received from various students at the end of the year. I debated about whether to share this, because they are fairly personal, for both my students and for me but I want everyone to see what is bringing me back next year and what is keeping me so excited about teaching. Also, I wanted to demonstrate the power of a simple thank you note, a lost art nowadays…

I just want to say thank you for such a wonderful year and I really enjoyed your fun and exciting math classes : ) You are an inspiring teacher : )


Thank you for a great year in calculus. You’ve really taught me a lot in math, and you are truly a great teacher to have. Thank you for teaching me although i came late to your course, and even though i was a pain in your ass : P Have a great summer : ) Thanks for everything, and yes i still will try to get you to teach me next year *evil_grin*


Sorry I didnt get the chance to say this in person, but I just wanted to say thank you very much for an amazing year.  thank you for making math mean more than just numbers.


Your class was a bless! I’m in love with physics, but you made me even enjoy it much much more. You have this cheerful pleasant personality that you just know how to make us happy in class. Thank you for putting your time in teaching us, and for your excellent effort! I swear you are the fastest grading teacher, and probably the most organized!


I just wanted to say that I had my best days in your physics and calculus class. I will miss you. You have been my teacher for two years, and now I’m leaving I just wanted to say thank you for everything and it was my pleasure having you teach me, you taught me a lot and you will always be my role model. I wish you all the best and we should keep in touch : )


I wanted to thank you for everything this year! It was more than amazing having you as a teacher. I have never enjoyed math in my life like this year. Really I’m going to miss your fun class Mr. B.


And my two favorites…

I guess I was a little embarassed saying this right now at the end of Physics, but I must really thank you for reliving my interest in sciences after 6 years. I must really thank you greatly.


Thank you, Thank you for these great years that i have spent with you. You were more than just a teacher. You were the older brother I never had. We will definetly stay in touch after I leave as people like you are hard to forget


So if your career doesn’t allow you to develop close relationships like this, or if your job’s meaning isn’t really derived from the people involved, then you have every right to be jealous. This is by far the best part of teaching and might be the reason why I make this a career and not just a job for right now.

Year TWO: Done.


After an exhausting (but wonderful) second year in teaching and after an exhausting (but wonderful) two weeks spent at Teacher boot camp, I am finally ready to relax and enjoy my summer. I know I need to sit down and reflect on both the year, but I’m too spent to do anything significant. Instead, taking inspiration from the Elementary School teachers at my program, I made a few “Wordles,” which are word clouds that are automatically generated from a piece of text (with the size of the word corresponding to how often it appears). The first is generated from this blog, and the second is generated from my final paper from the teaching program. So, well this may be a bit of a cop out, I think it gives a pretty accurate picture of all the things swirling around my head right now.

[click to make bigger]