In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. ~Jacques Barzun
Today began with telling two students I wasn't going to change their classes for second semester. There is no way I am allowing ANY student to drop an AP class to leave a gaping hole in a transcript. Both want to attend college. One conversation ended with a girl in tears. The other conversation ended with a very mad boy. Both agreed to stick it out. Both are scared of failing. Both are at a crossroad to decide how they want to tackle the academic challenges that face them. And I am commited to do my very best to help them in the next six months.
A few hours later, another junior walked into my office to ask me to check his grades. This is one I have been working with for over a year. He just needed to grow up and figure it out. After seeing a report card filled with Bs and Cs for the FIRST TIME EVER, he has clearly figured it out. And he was so excited to share it with me. As a teacher, there is no better feeling than seeing a student filled with pride in what they have accomplished. Challenges remain for him but he is starting to learn that hard work pays off with success.
And the day just kept getting better.
An email popped up from a former student who is in their second year at WSU. Just a quick check in to tell me how they are doing. Good grades. Healthy choices. Learning from experiences and a story of how they were able to use their leadership experience from ASB in a situation his year. All good.
At 2:00pm, a former student, from the class of 2006, walked into my doorway. I couldn't even contain my excitement. In fact, I'm about 99% sure I squealed when I saw his face. Of all my 18 years of teaching, the class of 2006 remain my favorite class. Why? Because they were "my kids" during the dark days of infertility. I couldn't have a child of my own so I made this group mine. It wasn't like I would bring any home but oh, how I adored that group. All of them. Their paths would be different from one another; some would struggle, some wouldn't. The one who walked in my door today has struggled. Has seen his share of bad times. I last saw him five years ago, a lost young man, moving away to start fresh. Today, he walked in, a new man, ready to face his next chapter in life. I spent an hour talking with him, peppering him with questions. At one point, he put his hands on his head and said, "I knew you would do this when I walked in but I had forgotten how intense you can be." He paused. "I forgot how much you cared. Keep going. It's good for me."
Eric asked me if seeing my former student felt good because it was validation as a teacher. The thought had never crossed my mind. My happiness had nothing to do with my valdiation. I'm past the time in my career when I need validation. I simply want this young man, who has seen more at the age of 24 than I have at 40, to be happy and find his own path. It's what I have always wanted for any of my kids.
Any of them.