Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Teacher Who Cares...

A former student got in touch with me on Snapchat a couple of weeks ago. I never think students from previous years remember me. I'm wrong. This young lady, a member of her high school's graduating class of 2018, and her fellow students were my very first solo (read: non-long-term sub) class. They were in 6th grade at the time when the sections grew too big and went from two to three. I was hired to teach the third section in December of the 2011-2012 school year. I was TERRIFIED.

The year was a profound learning experience. I learned that relationships are EVERYTHING. As 6th graders, they needed to trust me. They needed time with each other. Friendships were vital - and volatile - as they figured out who they were during a time of tremendous growth and change. They were a MAGNIFICENT group that will always have a huge part of my heart.

The end-of-year gift
I didn't have any idea of heart permanence can go both ways, until today. Today, this same wonderful young lady sent me a snap of the end-of-year gift I made for all three of my writing classes that year. I had each class write one positive character trait for each of their classmates. I then sorted them and made a Wordle for each student out of the traits their classmates said described them best. Finally, I added a quote and a little note from me. On the last day of school, I presented each student with their gift, feeling both joyous and teary-eyed as they left elementary school for the last time and continued on their journey toward adulthood.

The last thing I expected was that snap. I replied, saying it made me so happy that she kept my gift all these years.

Her reply?

"It's been on my wall since you gave it to me."

Wow. Just wow. I was so moved. I told her that in my next snap.

Her reply?

"A teacher who cares is not someone you forget."

Even sitting here now, rereading those words has sent me from teary-eyed to the ugly cry. As a new teacher, I didn't really know if I made a difference. I survived. The kids survived. Hopefully I did more good than harm. A more experienced teacher friend told me that it's incredibly moving to have former students come back, get in touch with you, or reach out later in life. You see them again, full of pride, knowing that you played a small role. Now that I'm almost done with my 7th year of teaching, I get that feeling from time to time, when young men and women, who now tower over me, come in for a hug and let me know what they're up to. My teacher friend was right: it's fantastic.

But THIS. This feeling is profound. I've never experienced anything quite like it before. Maybe it's because Jhen is from my first class. Maybe it's because they're graduating next year. But I'm overwhelmed with love, pride, gratitude. I did something right. I cared.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful post.... You made such a difference in the lives of your students.

    ReplyDelete

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