The recent In the Rearview Mirror post sparked a good memory that I am going to commit to posterity in this online journal of mine. It’s not much but it came out of that incident and also prompted a few additional recollections.
I told you that I was able to escape collision and drive away from that rear-end incident and that I eventually drove to the police station to report my witnessing of the event.
It turned out that the lady that I spoke to at the station was the mother of a former student of mine, one who had been in my class three times. Of course, I knew the student well, and although I am not generally a good rememberer of names, I can still easily picture Jessica and recall her name.
It wasn’t until that day, however, that I found out that Jessica quite liked me as a teacher. In her last year, she had taken a co-op course where kids were placed into a work environment for part of the time. Since Jessica wanted to be a teacher, she was teamed with one of the teachers in our school.
During that very same semester, I was mentoring another student, Abbie, who was enrolled in the same program as Jessica. What I didn’t know at the time was that students were able to request the teacher that they’d like to be partnered with. I had thought that Abbie and I had been put together randomly or at least for some other reason, such as our timetables simply fitting together.
But what I found out that day at the police station was that both girls had thought highly enough of AC to request being placed with me. Abbie had got her name in first, and Jessica had been disappointed. If it hadn’t been for that near-miss, I never would known.
It can be hard to tell where you stand with High School students. It’s not like elementary school; a high school teacher seldom receives gifts of appreciation at Christmas or end-of-year. The kids are too cool to express appreciation and, truth be told, probably not aware enough to be appreciative.
Occasionally, however, such news gets back to teachers. It’s happened to me on several occasions, like the time that Cuppa knew the mother of two kids that I taught. This lady went on and on to Cuppa about how they loved my classes. Oddly enough, the mother was a secretary at my school but never mentioned any of this to me. It was really good to know because I was teaching English, outside of my specialty area at the time, and I sometimes felt unsure of whether I was actually doing a good job.
As it turned out, I loved teaching English more than my specialty subject, geography. I think it was because the subject lent itself more to discussion and student input than geography, which was more about disseminating information. I’d have the kids sit in a horseshoe arrangement, and it was usually a very comfortable situation for me. Apparently, it worked for many of the kids too.
There were other times when word got back to me, both in English and geography from both students and administrators. Although, believe you me, no one goes into teaching for the glory, it is very comforting and reassuring to receive that sort of endorsement and approval from time to time.
It’s a lesson that we can all learn: to let someone know how much they are appreciated. Even if a person isn’t the very best at something, he or she will usually be doing well enough in some aspect to earn some positive reinforcement. It feels good to send out positive messages, and it’s good for the recipient to hear them. Win, win.