As I was eating my lunch in the lounge, I watched a young man in his twenties as he thanked two of his former teachers. It was so sweet to hear them catch up and to see what joy this encounter was bringing to my colleagues!
I've never had the experience of running into a former student. I mean, I only started teaching five years ago and so my oldest students are now finishing their eighth grade year! And I imagine that with all of the moving around we do, it might take some serious detective work to track me down! But one day I hope to have this experience. To see a student all grown up and discover what they've made of themselves. To feel at least some sense of pride and joy in the tiny part that I played in their lives.
And hopefully this desire of mine will inspire me to be a better teacher. I don't mean to be quicker at grading papers, or to get better at planning ahead of time, or to provide more opportunities for real reading and writing (not that those things aren't important!). I mean to be more intentional in my interactions with my students.
When you think back to your favorite teacher, you probably aren't going to remember what they taught you; you're going to remember that they cared about you. That they motivated, inspired, challenged, and encouraged you.
This is the heart of teaching.
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