Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blasts from the Past

Before I became an ESOL ninja, I taught eighth grade social studies.  My first few years teaching were definitely a learning experience.  I knew little about differentiation or how to fill up ninety minutes of class time.  I readily admit that my classroom management skills were not the strongest.  While I have only been teaching for thirteen years, those first few years seem like a lifetime ago.

I have randomly run into a number of former students from that period over the years.  By random I mean on public transit, at the mall, in the middle of downtown and one was even a substitute teacher at my current school.  Thanks to social media, other students from the early years of my career have resurfaced in the form of Facebook friend requests. These former students are now in their mid-twenties, some with spouses and children of their own. Since these individuals are well over the legal drinking age, I have no qualms about accepting their friend requests and get a kick out of some of their memories of middle school.

I recently received a friend request from a student I taught my rookie year.  Apparently she had a conversation with a friend about middle school and I was the first person that came to her mind, so she looked me up.  This request as well as recognition from other students over the years really touches me. While in my mind, my teaching skills were nothing to write home about, I am reminded that while I probably did make mistakes, I also made an impression.  Since I did not know much about being a teacher back then, I worked on being a compassionate individual.  That is the impression that sticks out in my former students' minds.

The students I have heard from are business owners, healthcare workers, attorneys and public service employees.  One of them is even a die-hard New England Patriots fan :) Regardless of which path they have chosen, I consider myself fortunate to have been a small part of their success.  While teaching can knock me down some days, these connections remind why it is important to get back up and continue plugging away deep inside the trenches.

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