Week three theme: What students remember
What Students Remember is a webcast on "Teaching Tales" with Brent Conley.
I hate what I'm thinking. The truth of the matter is that I didn't connect with many of my elementary teachers. But there were a few who left their mark on me. I was young for my grade. I marched off to Kindergarten, after having no preschool, at age 4.5. Then,I got sick a lot in first grade. I think I missed 30 days. This is saying a lot because you had to be near death for my mom to allow one of her kids to stay home. I spent the next six or so years playing catch up. Quite a few of my teachers made no secret of the fact that I was behind. I don't remember feeling good about myself as a learner until seventh or eighth grade.
However, Jane Jackson, my third grade teacher made learning special. It was probably 1980 and this teacher was all about student agency. Choice and project based learning were things in her class! She was calm yet motivated her students. I remember how she made me feel. She used to let a small group of us stay in for recess and clean her desk. (She was a disorganized mess.) What I remember is feeling so proud that she trusted me. Now, she did a few cringe-worthy things too but she made me feel special and this was a first for me.
The next teacher that I connected with wasn't a teacher at all. It was my high school principal. Somehow I was invited to a junior high school to recruit for our Catholic high school. We were asked to speak candidly about what we enjoyed about attending our school. About a week after our visit I was called to the principal's office. Heart pounding, I walked in her door and was surprised to be greeted by a smiling principal. She explained that she loved how I shared my experiences at the recruitment day. She wondered if I would be the featured student-speaker at my school's open house. I was beaming on the inside and I'm sure those beams of light shone on the outside too! This is one of the first times I remember receiving very specific feedback from an adult. I spoke at Open House. Not long after, I was summonsed again to the principal's office. She wanted to take me on a road trip to look at her Alma Matter to consider it for my college experience. I didn't end up going to her college and we didn't grow any closer but she is one adult that really believed in me. I never told her so, but her belief in me made a tremendous difference in the way I viewed myself. It was a real confidence builder.
I attended a small, all woman's college. There were quite a few professors who I'll always remember. These professors were generous with their time and with feedback. I think that it was their faith in my that helped me to enter the job market, and later, the classroom with confidence.
I can't help but wonder what students remember about me. My oldest students are now 33 years old. I still keep in touch with many of them or their parents. Some have shared how they remember the time they spent in my classroom with fondness. Honestly, I lave no idea what they remember most. I would hope that they remember that I was kind, that I held them to high standards, that my teaching was engaging and that I cared deeply about my students. I'm looking forward to my next encounter with one of them. You can me sure I'll ask what they remember!