I have a Facebook account but rarely use it. So it wasn’t surprising that I missed a message which had been sitting in my inbox for some time. When I discovered it this week, I was amazed… It was from a student I taught 30 years ago and hadn’t seen since, as I emigrated soon after. I managed to track down her email address and made contact. Within an hour, I received a lengthy reply with details of her family life and what she has done since leaving school. The joys of the internet!
I remember Jennifer as a bright and bubbly 10 year old with 2 blonde pigtails. I had only been a teacher for a couple of years when I taught her. I often think back to how we used to teach in those days as I reflect on how my beliefs about teaching and learning have changed. As one of my colleagues remarked.. I sometimes feel like going back to apologise to my students from long ago! I wondered why she even remembered me after all this time.
In her email, she tells me what she remembers about being in my class. I won’t go into detail, but the most significant thing that she mentions is this:
‘Most of all, you respected us kids in a way that not many teachers that I had over the years, ever did.’
Jennifer’s own children are around the age she was when I taught her. This is what she says about their school: ‘.. . their teachers are first class educators. I believe that you can have all the interactive whiteboards in the world (so many schools are very proud of how they have embraced modern technology) but it is really the human being that is the inspiration. And their best teachers are the ones who respect them and talk to them directly. ‘
The message is clear. No matter what and how we teach, no matter what tools we use or how much technology we integrate, the most important thing will always be how we connect with our students as fellow human beings. We shouldn’t ever lose sight of that.
This post is dedicated to Jennifer. A, Std 3 (Year 5) 1978