Teach me…

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.

Teach me...

This post is dedicated to Jennifer. A, Std 3 (Year 5) 1978

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6 thoughts on “Teach me…

  1. I really enjoyed reading this Ed and I also relate to it. Sometimes I ask myself why I have been teaching, doing the same job for 22 years (not as long as some) because we are told that the children of today will probably have 15 to 20 or even more different jobs. It’s when you read comments like the one you received or speak to ex students who tell you of things they really loved about being in my class that’s when it reminds me of why I am still doing what I do.

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  2. I love those awesome reconnections, particularly from students one is surprised to hear from. The odd time I run into someone I never really thought much of, and they tell often apologize for adolescent behavior, and fill me in. Wonderful serendipity, and a good kick in the pants for my outlook on our future. Thanks for the uplifting post.

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  3. I love hearing what my ex-students are up to. A few years ago I was lucky enough to have one of them come back and work with me in the IT department – he taught me so much more than I ever taught him! I’m sometimes amazed at the students who do actually manage to find me on Facebook – one of them said “I think it’s so cool that my old 5th grade teacher has a Facebook account”. I guess I wasn’t so into technology in the days that I used to teach him!

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  4. Isn’t that such a testament to the way you deal with your students? There are probably many more out there too, with same sort of memories.

    I’ve only been teaching 9 years but I hope I’ve had such a positive influence on some of my students.

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  5. I so agree with her! When I ask my students what they like about a certain tech tool, the answers I get are always along the lines of “because I get to talk to my friends, we can make things together, I can show everyone what I have learned”. The tools they like are social. They provide a way for them to be understood, accepted, and made to feel important. Technology is the vehicle that makes it possible for more interactions….as witnessed by your Facebook connection to a former student. So neat!

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