I have taught for 30+ years, and over the years, I have connected with former students.
On the street, their jobs, emails, and visits. Last year, 3 siblings surprised me with a visit. I had each of them in my classroom. One had graduated from college and was working in D.C, one was in college, and one had just graduated from high school.They not only thanked me, but they talked to my students, gave them some of their wisdom and let them know how fortunate they were to have me.:) A student from one of my 3rd grade classes in the 80's, found me on Facebook, and remembered her experience in my classroom.
Hearing about the impact I have had on their lives makes me proud. Proud as in "I am so happy that I have made a difference", not "look what I've done."
Presently, I work with one of my former 5th grade students, she is a para in my classroom.She told my husband that I was good, because I was the only teacher she still remembered.
Here are some things I have done over the last thirty years that I believe has affected the relationship I had with my students.
I was not mean.
This does not mean I never raised my voice, or laid them out. It doesn't mean that I never let loose with sarcasm,(I have really become a lot better at controlling this!). It means what it says, I am not mean. I have never spent day after day, belittling students who have very little control over what happens in their lives. I have never made them feel like less.
I loved them.
And they knew it! It didn't matter if I was fussing, angry, impatient, they knew that I loved them. There were times I did not like their behavior, (to be honest there were some that were hard to like), but nonetheless,I loved them like they were mine. My expectations for them were high. I treated them the way I wanted teachers to treat my kids.
I engaged them.
Oh yes, pre-computers! Back in 19something or other, I used to take a huge cardbox and drag it into my room. I am not making this up. I would turn out the lights and we would time travel during Social Studies. The other kids would put their heads on the desk.The kids would "wake up" and we would be wherever I was teaching. No computer necessary! I used to write plays and have my students perform them.(Aaaah,. pre-standardized testing days).
Dance. Sing. Smile. Laugh. Tell them about your kids. Your husband. Your life.
I was, (and still am), a life long learner.
It doesn't matter what your profession is. The minute you stop learning, you are done. If you are teaching from the lesson plan book you used in 2010...(and you brag about it???) Keep it fresh.
If you keep doing the same thing the same way you've always been doing it... I'm paraphrasing, but you get my drift. I always switched it up because a bored teacher means bored students. Should I refer back to the lesson plan book from 2010? This is why tech and I are besties right now, completely transformed the way I teach!
I was passionate about teaching!
Everyone who is teaching does not feel the same way that I do. To some, teaching is just a job, a means to a paycheck. Others, really enjoy it, but at the end of the day, they are done. Teaching has been my passion since I was a little girl in my friend's basement with an easel and some neighborhood kids. It's in my blood, as my girlfriend says, I am a "teacher's teacher." It's just something that I love!
Yesterday, via Facebook, I realized that one of my former students had become a teacher. She has been teaching for 9 years. I congratulated her, and she responded, " I always think about you and Ms.Turner and hope I'm doing half the job you did!" What a wonderful way to be remembered!