Midterm grades were due a couple weeks ago just as I was preparing to leave town for a long weekend. I had told the kids if they turned in late work any time after Wednesday, I couldn’t guarantee its presence on their midterm grades.
At the end of sixth hour Thursday, Joe approaches me with two missing assignments. The way I grade late work encourages students to turn it in, so I knew these two assignments would easily pull his grade from an “F” to a “C” or maybe even a “B.” Joe is a sweet kid who is frequently disorganized.
“You know I can’t guarantee these on your midterm, right?”
I have students who would argue with this, who would fail to understand how my leaving town has anything at all to do with their grade, who would fail to see that they’d met the cut-off I’d already said. Not Joe. His face fell with disappointment with the reminder, but he said, “Okay. Thanks.”
Before I took off after school, I entered his grades, partially because of the gracious way he handled disappointment and accepted responsibility.
I forgot about it.
The next week, after midterms came out, he stuck around after class. “Thanks so much for rushing to put in those grades,” he said.
“You’re very welcome,” I replied.
A little thank you goes a long way.
An editorial side note: These are rough times in the media for public school teachers. Some days it is hard to not take it all personally. It is a great time to go out of your way to thank a teacher.