This weekend I was able to go to my wife’s 20th high school reunion. It was a great time of eating, talking, and reminiscing. As the conversation bounced from topic to topic I was able to hear story after story of teachers that the classmates remembered.
The classmates spoke of one gentleman who would always fall asleep during filmstrips and would be awoken only when the film began to slap against the wheel. Other teachers had regular phrases such as, “You’re sinking fast and need someone to throw you a life line. Jerry, help her out with the answer.” Still other stories described a few teachers that gave out huge worthless assignments or acted in spooky ways that seemed to have scared the classmates for years.
Throughout these stories, I heard the classmates describe their favorite teachers as well. They talked about the lessons that they had learned and the impact these teachers had made on the classmates lives. At one point someone started reciting a certain lesson and the rest of the classmates joined in a chorus repeating the phrases they had memorized many years before. Another student recalled how a teacher had motivated him to choose his professional career with a single conversation. It was powerful to hear that each one of the classmates had been forever changed by the teachers that they had.
As I start back to school tomorrow, I am going to keep in mind the stories that I have heard. I’ll have 180 days with my class this year. My words and actions will be seen and heard by my students and will become woven into their very lives. Years from now my students will be sitting around talking to someone, maybe even me, and they will remember a moment we shared in time. My hope is that this memory will be a good one, and that the lives of my students will become better, because of the time they spend with me this year.
(In the comments below, please let me know of a teacher, who for better or worse, impacted your life. )