Today a student who had just called the principal gay (and not meaning homosexual, but dumb, he later assured me, as if that somehow made it okay) in my earshot, complained about my reaction.
Here's the script:
Student: How do you do that!?
Me: Do what?
Student: Make me feel like the worst person in the world just by looking at me that way.
Me: That's not me, it's your conscience.
Student: No, it's you. You get this look like you're totally crushed by our behavior, but you stay just as calm as always and it's horrible.
Me: Maybe you should only do things to make me proud then.
It's easy to forget what influence I have, since teens are loathe to let us know. Reminders like this are both flattering and sobering.
I also had a student thank me for correcting her assignments today. She said it was really helpful to have a teacher who graded for more than just completion. Pretty scary. I have faith in my colleagues, and in the system, but am aware of the need for improvements. Bright kids are woefully under-served by our schools, but average kids get what they need.