This is why I teach....

This is why I teach....

on Monday, 18 May 2015.


MugsOver the past 10 years or so, it has become a tradition in my classroom that students bring me a mug back from the college that they attended as a freshman, or their place of employment. I have mugs from community colleges, Harvard, Apple, and everywhere in between.

Most are now engineers, or on their way to becoming one, but some are actually service men and women, history or english majors, doctors, or lawyers.You see, PLTW and engineering is not just for engineers. The problem solving skills that ALL students get in these courses help them in all aspects fo their life, no matter what they choose to do with it. I am proud of all of my students; no matter the school, job, or major that they have chosen. It gives me great insight when the students come back, usually over Christmas break, to give me thier mugs, and tell me about thier experiences as a freshman engineering/tech student at a college, or about their experiences in the world outside of education. It never fails. Every one of them have come back to tell me how what they have learned in my classroom gives them a leg up in a competitive world outside of high school. Every one of them.

I now am the proud owner of over 200 mugs, and have a shelf that wraps around the front of my classroom with all of the mugs, autographed, that I have recieved over the years. Thank you to all of the students that have donated to this cause. Ever have a bad day teaching? It makes it a lot harder when you have a testament to all those students you have reached out to in a positive way, right there in front of you. It makes having a good teaching day that much easier.

Then about a month ago, a foreign exchange student I had about five years ago, sent me an email it follows:


Thien was put into my CIM class, about 10 weeks into the school year. Even though he could not speak English very well, and he missed the first ten weeks of class, he flourished; thanks again to the great class I had. Especially Carter, Drew, and Zach. He was an incredibly hard worker, and all of my students pitched in to help him grasp the concepts of the class. He seemed to really enjoy it as well. He told me it was his favorite class.

So then he went off to college out west. Went to a few of them, as you could see in his letter, and then he settled on the one that fit him best. I guess that was Oklahoma, because here is what I received in the mail this morning:

OU Thien2

Thank you Thien! You are the reason I enjoy what I sometimes call “work”. It’s little things like this that make coming to work everyday much more enjoyable. It cannot be evaluated by APPR, or by any other means. It is an intrisic motivator, and it is powerful.

Thank you to all of my students. Mug or not. Every one. Every year. Every one of you has challenged me. And a message to all of my future students: “Go ahead punk, make my day…” -Clint Eastwood-

I hope this makes some of you reflect on what happens in your classroom each and every day, and makes you glad you chose the profession you did.

Below is a piece of art Thien made for a Digital Art class he took. He gleaned all of the parts of it from the internet (including the awful picture of me!) It gives me a lot of insight as to what he saw in me, and my classroom. Thanks again Thien… You have a great life too; I certainly have. Please stay in touch and continue to remind me…



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Chris and Jim CIM
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