A "cool" teacher

There's less than a week of school left and the students in my classes have been working (surprisingly) hard on their independent science presentations. Most of the class knows what they should be working on and what to do next, so it gives me time to check-in with each student throughout the block.

Today, I checked in with a student whose topic is space stations and the impact they've had on scientific research and space exploration. After conferencing with him on what he was working on and some places where he could improve, I started to leave to move onto the next student. As I began to walk away, the student next to him says it.

"You're a cool teacher."

I really don't like hearing this from students. I really don't. It bothers me. A huge part of me does not want to be known as a cool teacher and would rather simply be known as a great teacher.

The student stared me down and obviously wanted me to respond. Unfortunately, I couldn't think fast enough to reply any other way. I said what was on my mind.

"I'd rather be a great teacher."

We engaged in a little discussion of what I felt the difference was and he tried to understand. I did my best to explain that even though I'm glad he enjoys my class and thinks the activities and lessons we do are fun and says it's his least boring class, I would rather him leave my room having grown as a learner, creator, thinker and individual.

Blank stare...

And then I was floored.

"You mean like how we don't ask you questions that we can answer ourselves?"

Oh, happy day.