Dan Van der Vieren
Windsor Charter Academy
Celebrating my 21st birthday was bittersweet. I had just recently arrived in Maryland for an internship and was invited out to dinner at a Red Robin to enjoy a meal with my roommates, who were still total strangers to me.
At the restaurant, I ordered an adult beverage to complement my burger. It wasn't entirely awkward with these new acquaintances, but I definitely didn't feel the same as I would have with family or friends present.
I tried my best to have a good time, but I still felt lonely and isolated without familiar faces. To make matters worse, I didn't receive my free ice cream sundae because I had forgotten the printed copy of my coupon in my apartment.
One of my former colleagues in the math department had a birthday this last semester and I thought it would be a nice gesture to have his former students (now mine) visit him and express their appreciation. Another staff member had brought in candy and cookies for that teacher. Knowing that my students absolutely adored that individual, I gathered a few chocolates and cookies from the teachers' lounge before the school day started and then asked my students in my first hour class to write a birthday message and sign it. (They were all very excited to take a break from evaluating integer expressions!).
During that first period class, my students and I walked over to the other teacher's class and sang the birthday song. That teacher was very moved and thanked me for the gesture, saying, "No one has ever done anything like that for me."
Moral of the story? Recognize and acknowledge your colleagues. They work hard each day and teaching can feel like a thankless job sometimes. Showing you care and modeling this for your students can also build a positive culture within your school.
Feel free to demonstrate random acts of kindness on a regular basis. A little can go a long way!