My Christmas Bonus

by Eric Gjerde

A couple of weeks ago we had our New Tech coach visit our school to evaluate our progress implementing the PBL model. My classes were using Socratic circles to discuss their genocide research. We had a meeting afterwards and she was very impressed in where our school is for a first year PBL school.

In my individual meeting with the coach she gave me positive feedback about my class. She gave me what I consider to be a great compliment when she said, “You don’t really follow the PBL model, but don’t change anything.” What she meant is that the model can be a formula to help teachers learning how to teach PBL, but that I had personalized it using my own language and methods.

I am not going to lie, that meant a lot to me. It definitely made my day month. To me it was validation from an unbiased outsider. To me that is all I am looking for in my job. For people to recognize that I care about kids and am trying to create meaningful learning experiences for them. There was no formal write-up that went into my file, good or bad. It will not be published in the paper or used in any official way. I will not get a raise or any financial gain from it.

An Agate embed

In my previous life I worked pouring concrete floors. We got bonuses twice a year including at Christmas. We always looked forward to getting some extra money. I also saw the negative side of bonuses as some guys “expected” to get a certain size bonus and would get angry if they did not. Others would compare their bonus checks and be jealous of others who got more than they did. The bonuses did not create a collaborative atmosphere in the company. So I know what it is like to get that kind of bonus, and I can honestly say that the compliment from a former PBL teacher meant at least as much as money to me.

I have not always felt valued and appreciated in my previous teaching jobs. But I am having my best year ever with freedom to create my own curriculum this year. I am proud to be a teacher, a professional. To be recognized as such is all the Christmas bonus I need.

6 thoughts on “My Christmas Bonus

  1. Sarah L.

    And we are proud to have a professional like you as part of our nation-wide team! Keep up the great work and be sure to take some time for a little R&R over the holiday break…coming back just as strong and envigorated as ever! 🙂

  2. Chanel Ellison

    Hello Mr. Kaechele,
    I read your post and it was very heartfelt. It is nice to see how much you really appreciate your job and your love for teaching. I had never heard of a Problem-Based Learning school before. I did a little research to educate myself and I found information on Wikipedia. They broke it down into 7 steps:
    – clarifying and agreeing on terms and concepts that are unclear
    – define the problem and review terms which need more depth or explanation
    – analyze, brainstorm and create potential hypothesis
    – discuss, evaluate and organize possible explanations into potential hypothesis
    – generate and prioritize learning objectives, divide research workload
    – private study time to research objectives
    – during next tutorial report back gained information, create an explanation and synthesize new information in relation to the problem
    This is really in depth work from my point of view seeing as my high school classes did nothing like this. Everything was straight book work. With all these criterion, and you also have the time to add your own personality to the curriculum, I have to applaud you. I also can see how you found the coach’s comments very rewarding. It is the satisfaction you want when you are teaching. You want your creativity and efforts to be recognized. That is how I hope to feel when I start teaching in the future.
    When you discussed your past job, it really interested me. It shows how teaching doesn’t compare to the standard 9-5 jobs out there. People usually go to work just for the paycheck. With teaching, it is a reward inside itself. Of course money is part of the job, but it’s never the only reason why someone does it. They teach for the accomplishments they witness come out of their students. I am glad that your new teaching job is treating you well, and I hope the rest of the year goes just as smooth.

    Chanel Ellison –

    My Class Blog-

  3. Keiko Ito

    I am greatly moved by your post. I think your students have a excellent opportunity. To let their students understand, teacher can teach in any way which suit one best. I wish I could have your class just once.

  4. ash baumann

    It is nice to hear someone that loves their job so much. It goes to show that there are still teachers that care. I am still in school and I already have the love for the classroom. I cannot wait to become a teacher. I know that that compliment meant a lot to you and it was well deserved. Can you explain the PBL teaching approach. I did some research on it but I would like to hear your take on it.

    Ash Baumann

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