Friday, February 8, 2013

Sometimes you don't know the effect you have on students until years later...

True story last Christmas:

While returning home to Winnipeg for a visit with my mother I had a young woman come up to me and ask if I remembered her.  She didn't expect me to remember her as I taught her in Grade 3 years ago, and her mother said that she really shouldn't bother me.  I honestly did not recognize her, it had been over 19 years since I taught in Manitoba.  But when I saw her mom, the woman she pointed to, I looked back at the young lady and said the following:

"You cut your hair!  I loved it long and curly like before.  You always loved to read books about mysteries, do you still?  You were so smart in Math and so curious in Science  You had a crush on my boyfriend who supervised one of our field trips, oh by the way I married him.  I still have one of your going away bracelets you made me" and I went on for a while about everything that I could remembered about the remarkable girl in Grade 3.  The more I talked, the more the tears started to roll down her face and the bigger the smile on her and her mother's as she watched the two of us.

When I stopped, that young woman thanked me for being such a wonderful teacher to her and told me that because I always expected the most from her (she read at a grade 9 level and I made her continue to do so in my classroom) all through her education she expected and demanded that the teachers who taught her challenged her and taught new things.  I differentiated in the classroom wit all my students.  Today that woman has a Masters in Business Administration now and works for a major company in Toronto.  She flew in to visit her mom for Christmas as well.  It was only by chance that we flew in at the same time and she saw me picking up my luggage at the Winnipeg Airport.

There are days when you're so tired you can't think straight, and days that you give you're all and yet you see no results.  But there are precious days like the one I described above that make me realize you don't always see the effect you have on children, and sometimes you do affect their lives forever.  

This story is what I remember when I'm so tired, and not sure if my students are learning what I'm teaching.  It's also why I don't say "My school" but "My students" because it's not the building that you teach in that you should have pride in, but the students that you teach and send off in the world.  

When I went back to my mother with my suitcase after talking to my former student, I look her in face and  said with great pride "That young woman was MY student in Grade 3.  Look at her now. I had a hand in that."  My mother smiled with pride at me.

Sometimes it's best to take the time to reflect and remember why you teach and recharge your energy.  Lesson for the new term.

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