Math = Love: Preserving Classroom Memories

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Preserving Classroom Memories

Last year, I knew that I wanted to make sure that I had a way to ensure that I preserved the classroom memories that are easily forgotten.  These are the funny things that students say or the lessons that go extremely well or the compliments that are passed on.

I kept a glass jar on my desk last year, and I tried to remember to write down these memories on individual post-it notes.  I folded them up, and I told myself that I would sit down at the end of the year and read them all.  Of course, my students were extremely curious about the jar.  When I told them my plan, they somehow assumed that this meant I was going to read the notes to them at the end of the year.  Much to their disappointment, I didn't.  In retrospect, I think I should have pulled out all the ones I wanted to keep private and then shared the rest with my students.  Next year, that will be my plan.  

My Memory Jar

A couple of weeks ago when I started decorating my classroom for the upcoming school year, I saw the jar on my desk and realized that I had never sat down and read the notes.  As I opened and read each note, I couldn't help but smile.  Reading these reminded me just how fun teaching is.  Working with teenagers can be frustrating and stressful, but they are also just funny.  My students are very honest and candid which can lead to hurt feelings.  But, it also means that their compliments and comments carry great weight.  I love my students, and I can't imagine a better job.  

The Completed Memory Book

After opening and reading all the notes, I knew I wanted to keep them, but I was unsure how to go about that.  While reading my favorite memories to my younger sister, she suggested that I could laminate the post-it notes to.  So, I pulled out my trusty laminator, a single hole-punch, and a binder ring.  And, I used these to create a book of memories.

This is the perfect size to tuck in my desk drawer for those days when things just don't seem to be going right.  I can pull out these memories and remember all the good days.  I want this to become a yearly tradition.
Inside My Memory Book

Knowing that I'll be keeping these forever, next year I pledge to use better handwriting.  Most of these memories were jotted down quite hastily, and it shows.  Also, I want to do a better job of keeping up with my memory jar next year.  Last year, I wrote a bunch at the beginning of the year, and it kind of tapered off as the year progressed.  

Inside My Memory Book

Here are a few of my favorite classroom memories from 2012-2013:

My neighbor coming to school and trying to give me a couch.

Hearing a parent at an IEP meeting say "You're the first teacher EVER that I have heard [my daughter] say that she likes."

Getting called Mom for the first time.

Seeing the joy on a student's face after she discovers a way to determine which symbol represents less than and which symbol represents greater than.  Hearing her exclaim, "This just made my day," wasn't too bad either...

Snowball fights to practice solving equations.

"Wow. It looks like you could really learn in here." - A student up on seeing my classroom for the first time.

"You're not my favorite teacher, but you are my best teacher."

"It feels beautiful in here." (Said in regards to the fact that I had the heater on.)

"What is a quadratic?" "It's what happens at an aquarium when the fishies die."

Celebrating Universal Letter Writing Week with my students.  The best part was seeing the reactions of the teachers and staff members who received the letters.

"Is Texas in Oklahoma?"

"I asked for a dreidel for Christmas."

"You can't call it a hamburger fold because you don't eat hamburgers."

"Am I the only person who makes the bellies of my fives really fat?"

"Are fish sticks really fish?"

"It's weird seeing teachers in public.  They shouldn't have a life outside of school."

"I don't think Slope Dude has any friends."

"I'm gonna name my kid 'Parabola.'"

"You make math fun."

"If you don't teach here next year, I'll cry."

"I'm gonna name my kid 'Perpendicular.'"


  1. Sarah, I love your posts. I am a veteran teacher going on 28 years of teaching, and I love it just as much now as I did as a rookie. You remind me so much of myself as a young, passionate teacher...but you do a much better job of putting great ideas into motion than I did at times! I often wish I would have written down the hilarious and not-so-hilarious things that my students have done/said over the years. You are absolutely right - their compliments and comments carry great weight. Teens are blunt. But the hardest truths are often the most helpful if you choose to learn from them. You will be so glad you have them in later years. Thanks for sharing your idea. I love the simplicity of it. :)

  2. In my 3rd or 4th year teaching, I was given a "Sunshine Folder." This is where the notes and cards from kids went so that on THOSE days, I had something to remind me why I was a teacher. I still have the folder, although I add to it much less frequently now. I like your idea of a jar and post its. (I might do index cards with the same kind of idea) I might label the jar with something catchy (If I have to, I am sure my 7th graders can think of a title for it.......)

  3. This is a great idea!!! I have to find a jar for my desk and make sure it is there on Monday!!

  4. Super Awesome Idea! My teacher friends will be receiving early Christmas gifts. I've been glued to my computer and focused on your posts for the past 3+ hours :)

    1. Thanks Elsa! I hope your teacher friends enjoyed their gifts!