for two years. -less often, now

Why I Teach

Despite all the ridiculous things we face daily as teachers, whether from parents, kids, the public, or administration, there are certain things that make it all worthwhile. My grandma died suddenly last week and I had to go back to NY, leaving them for 4 days with a sub. I came back this week to a desk piled high with candy & chocolate, and a big stack of cards they made for me. The cards were hilarious and touching and amazing. Most of them brought a tear to my eye. These are the things that make me love what I do. And I wanted to share it with you. Here are some of my favorite cards:

Front – look at that amazing detail!

Inside – please read it. Please.

Front – I love how all the letters in my name are something sciencey! The M mountains, the lightning L, though I’m concerned that my S is giving off some sort of smoke —-or foul odor? heh

Inside. And yes, I did say that about science and magic :-)

Card 3
The Unicorn Time thing really had me rolling. LoL – I’m also the only guy in TN Vols country rocking a Syracuse Orange penant & poster :)

Card 4
I laughed because there’s always one student who has to give you a class update! haha

I have WALL*E stuff all over my classroom – and they obviously know I love LEGO. It’s amazing what kids can do, say, and feel, if you give them a chance to express themselves. I can’t thank them, and my team of teachers and school that let the kids do this for me. This is why I teach.

24 responses

  1. These are great! What an awesome way for them to share that what you do is making an impact on them. Sorry to hear about your loss. My 4 year old loves your blog and we check it out together. Thank you for spreading the Lego love and imagination!

    November 15, 2011 at 7:45 pm

  2. Karen

    I read these tributes with a smile and a tear because I taught for 20 years and loved it. My grown children also lost their grandmother this past week and so I can relate on both levels. I do understand the wonderful feeling that you have when you know that you are making a difference in the life of a child and that you are doing it in a way that does not compromise what you believe or what you know is best for children. May God comfort you in this time of grief and may He bless you as you continue to teach. My oldest grandson is in fifth grade this year and he is a “Lego” maniac. In fact, his mom finally subbed to your Lego a Day posts because I kept forwarding them to her for him to see! Blessings to you !!

    November 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm

  3. These cards are amazing! Thank you for sharing.

    November 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

  4. Sorry to hear about your grandmother.

    Kids say the darndest things. I love the one that updated you on all the classmates and how Marcus was in trouble. So sweet. You should be proud of how you’ve inspired these kids.

    November 16, 2011 at 2:07 am

  5. No'Akei

    I am sorry for your loss, I lost both my grandparents the same day in April and it hasn’t healed yet, so I kinda know how you could feel…
    And you should be proud of your little boys and girls because these are things that will remain in their hearts forever, and maybe one or two of them could even pick up your way and be wonderful teachers like you when they grow up =)

    (sorry if my English is not good, it’s not my main language)

    November 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

  6. Keep up the good work Mr. Phelps! The world could use a few more teachers like yourself. Sorry to hear about your Grandma. I have 1 grandparent still living. Its a little bit of your childhood dying when they pass away. God bless!!

    November 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm

  7. Pure gold :) You sound like an awesome teacher!

    November 16, 2011 at 9:19 pm

  8. Sorry about your Grandmother. The cards are great! You are obviously reaching your students and are loved by them and love your work. You have touched them and now they have touched you back!

    November 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm

  9. I am a teacher too and I know how rewarding all these things are. ¡Congratulations!!!!!
    I also love when my pupils, years later, tell me that they studied the same university career than me because of me. Or when they introduce me to their own children.

    November 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

  10. The cards are all so sweet and touching! It must have been a real relief and joy to come back to such lovely handmade cards and well-written messages. So sorry for your loss though.

    I wish I had a teacher in my entire academic life to write such heartfelt messages to. You must be one great teacher.

    November 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

  11. Erin K

    Sorry about your Grandmother.

    You are clearly an awesome teacher!

    It’s unicorn time.

    November 20, 2011 at 11:52 pm

  12. As a fellow teacher, I totally relate. Jennifer’s was profound (the part about having to just be a man about it). Sorry about your grandma.

    November 21, 2011 at 9:01 am

  13. Myn M.

    That’s awesome. :D My mom was a teacher before she got married, then homeschooled most of us, and is now a Sunday school teacher at our church, along with my dad (different classes). They both love teaching too.

    Sorry for your loss. I agree with the sentiments of the first card regarding your grandma. ;)

    I like the second one too. I used to make words into pictures when I was little :D But I had no idea your ears were so big and floppy…

    November 22, 2011 at 2:02 am

  14. Margy

    I am very sorry for your loss. Nothing ever takes that feeling away, but love from children sure helps. You are obviously a wonderful teacher and you’ve reached many of your students. I had a 4th grade teacher who really took time to understand me, and I remember her to this day. Your students will always remember you, too. OUr thoughts are with you.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm

  15. I think this is your best post ever! Imagine that!

    December 1, 2011 at 1:01 pm

  16. My partner is a teacher to kids a bit younger than yours, and I get to see his Christmas cards and their thank yous on leaving his class, and they are equally sweet. Shows what a great teacher you are!

    My deepest condolences on the loss of your Grandma… xx

    December 2, 2011 at 8:43 am

  17. This is so amazing! Being a teacher myself, I can imagine how gratified you must be feeling. :) This REALLY is why we teach! I am sure your grandma would have been proud about you.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:02 am

  18. kirinjirafa

    Sorry to hear about your loss- thanks for sharing the love :)
    These cards are so awesome. I’m a teacher too, and as cliche as it may seem sometimes, the kid art just melts my heart.

    December 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm

  19. Hamster

    sorry about your loss, love your posts. :)

    December 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

  20. So sorry for your loss. This was such a good post- it made me miss teaching elementary (I teach high school now).

    December 23, 2011 at 12:30 am

  21. not to be mean but this put a smile on my heart.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:30 am

  22. kriemermann

    I’m an aspiring teacher myself (in school for it at the moment) and am so glad to see that kids really appreciate it when you bring something unique to their experience. My kids and I love your Lego stuff and the enthusiasm you obviously have for it. It’s so great to see that you can be that excited about everything, and that it has a positive impact on your students! (And I’m going to remember that about science.)

    May 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm

  23. That last one…….FUNNY! I LAUGHED LIKE A FREAK!

    May 26, 2012 at 8:24 pm

  24. Since I just joined your site, I have spent some time going through many of your posts. This one touched me so deeply. You are the teacher that I would have loved for our sons to have had. They are grown now, and one even has our first grandchild – a little girl named Zoë, now 20 months old. (They moved away from a town near us recently to a town more than 8 hours away by car. I told them to let us keep Zoë, and they refused! Can you believe that? I mean we let them know that they could come visit any time they wanted to. . .I guess we didn’t raise them right. To think they wouldn’t let us keep her with us. Hmmm. . .I worry about their generation.)

    Anyway, I see that you must live quite near us. We live in Waynesville, NC in the Smoky Mountains of western NC. Bring your class on a field-trip to Cataloochee Mountain – where there is now a thriving Elk herd, reintroduced to the area a few years back. They used to be plentiful here, but were hunted and”encroached” completely away from this part of the world. They can easily be seen and photographed, and I imagine you could build some wonderful Lego-Elk creations. Cataloochee Mountain towers just above us, and is about 10-minute drive from our house.

    We lived in Knoxville for seven years and are well familiar with Vol Country! I am a UConn alum, but I am a Lady Vol fan through and through. There is no better basketball coach male or female than Pat Summitt and her recent retirement due to Alzheimer’s is heartbreaking for us all. She was also an extraordinary teacher and role model as are you. Thank you for doing what you do. Your vocation is among the most important in the world, and certainly the most valuable. The fact that teachers are so under-appreciated, under-respected, and vastly under-paid is among the most shameful aspects of our nation. I wish you the very best, as your students are being given – and offer my thanks for all that you do.

    And, I’m serious about that field trip! It could be a wonderful science-teaching experience, and you are all invited to come by after your visit and have a glass of iced tea and enjoy a wade in the Little Pigeon River, which is right across the street from our home.

    Paula Tohline Calhoun (my writer’s Blog), called “Reflections From a Cloudy Mirror” (my photography blog), called “Reflected Glory – My Adventures in Photography”

    June 6, 2012 at 11:48 am

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