Monday, December 8, 2008

My students

On the last day of my Thursday night class, my students completely blew me away by having a surprise end of the semester party. They brought pizza, cold cuts, cheese, crackers, cake, brownies, chips, cider, drinks, chocolates. I was really blown away by the wonderful spread and touched by the heartfelt appreciation they showed me. It was the first time that I was nearly brought to tears by my students in the classroom. They let me know how much they enjoyed my class and how much benefit they received from it. They let me know that I had made a difference in their lives in some small but tangible way.

I, in turn, have learned so much from all of them. Many are returning adult students, some who've been out of school for more than twenty years, who have more drive, more determination and more passion for their education than their younger classmates. Some are attending college at the same time as their children. Others are raising little ones at home and juggling babysitting to make it to class. They struggle through full time jobs, raising children, paying mortgages and other hardships but come to class every night ready to continue their educational odyssey. They challenge me, argue with me and push me to give them the best educational experience I can. Every class has been a dynamic exchange of knowledge and experience. Every class I leave tired but stimulated and feeling so lucky to have had such an involved group of students.

My admiration for my students is limitless. They remind me that it is never too late to go after whatever it is you truly want. Never too hard to achieve your dreams. Never too proud to go back and start again.

They remind me of why it is I teach.

22 comments:

Merry Monteleone said...

They remind me that it is never too late to go after whatever it is you truly want. Never too hard to achieve your dreams. Never too proud to go back and start again.

Thank you, Ell, I needed that tonight.

I'm glad they appreciate you - they obviously know you well, they brought such yummy food :-)

Kim Kasch said...

Oh...so many times I wish I was a teacher.

Great impact you must have had this term.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sweet! I always appreciate it when I get thank you cards and notes from students. It does make you feel like you've done something to touch them.

Precie said...

AW! That's so wonderful!!

Patti said...

you made me miss tutoring...

spyscribbler said...

Wow, that's wonderful! I love your enthusiasm. You know, I could use a dose of a pizza party from my students, LOL. I don't know. There's a different crop of parents this year, a completely different attitude than what I've had in the past. My students are practicing 15 minutes, twice a week, and the parents are FINE with that. And I'm the bad guy for saying they need more.

It's weird. But they still expect me to get their kids to the same level as the others. And I'm still judged by how they play, not how well I teach.

So, I don't know. This has been a rough year.

Chris Eldin said...

Beautifully spoken.

Melissa Marsh said...

What an awesome post, Ell! All that hard work during the semester was worth it, for you and for them!

Larramie said...

And your feelings, Ello, are a great part of what makes you a teacher worthy of such recognition.

Jacqui said...

See now? Now I have to go back to teaching.

Kelly said...

That is so wonderful, it brought tears to my eyes. I am a former grade school teacher so it is a very different atmosphere, but gratitude like that and seeing your students progress make all the hard work worth it!
It sounds like your celebration was well deserved!

pacatrue said...

One of my favorite sayings lately is, when someone tells me they never did something or it was too late, to respond, "You're not dead yet."

My experience with older students is similar to yours. It's one reason I'm a big fan of allowing more flexible life scheduling for even public schooling, even at the high school level. Teachers can make or break a subject, but ultimately the student must be internally motivated to some degree. We should continue to fund the typical 12 years for all, but the unfortunate fact is that a lot of people at 16 and 17 are not ready at all for what should be a rather advanced last couple of years of school. They simply don't want to be there and will not take advantage of it. If that's true, let them stop and go work. When they are ready for the last 2 years, we will still be there for them, even if they aren't ready until they're 22 or 42. They aren't forced to waste their time or the teacher's time just because of their age.

March to the Sea said...

awesome! Well done. In reading your posts I think I'd like to take a class you teach.

Stuart Neville said...

"They remind me that it is never too late to go after whatever it is you truly want. Never too hard to achieve your dreams. Never too proud to go back and start again."

Yep, that should be the writer's mantra, probably.

Picking up on Pacatrue's point, I heartily agree. I wish I'd taken a year or two out before going to college. If I'd gotten a taste of the real world, I might not have dropped out - then again, I wouldn't be where I am now - but on balance, yes, I think a little real world experience would help a lot of kids in those make-or-break years.

My best friend as a kid did exactly that. We played in bands together, were both convinced we'd be rock stars. I wound up going to college, but he didn't do so well in his exams, and wound up in a dead end job. Luckily, he got a girlfriend who kicked his arse until he went back to school, got stellar grades, then went to university. He's now a Doctor of Literature, the gf is his wife, they have two beautiful kids, and he has a job he loves.

Education isn't for everybody (I always had a patchy relationship with it), but I often feel it's wasted on teenagers.

cindy said...

awww. that's so wondrful, ell. you deserved it!! what a great way to say they truly appreciate all you've done and taught!!

Christina Farley said...

You totally deserve it! As the saying goes, "What comes around, goes around."

Cheers!

Mary Witzl said...

I used to teach students like that. Thank you, Ello: you have made me feel SO nostalgic and wistful!

Ages ago I was teaching at a vocational rehabilitation center in San Francisco. There was a young, keen 30-some-year-old man in one of the typing classes. Someone told me he had been an officer in Vietnam. We also had a man just shy of passing the Bar when he'd been forced to leave, and we had two doctors as well. All were learning to do jobs way beneath them; none of them behaved with the sort of arrogant despondency I myself might have felt under the same circumstances.

And I have to agree with Stuart: education is often wasted on teenagers. Especially ones who are already spoiled...

Carrie Harris said...

How cool is that? They even fed you cakes and brownies. I think I'm going to create the brownie food group. I'm going to need a post-submissions diet so badly. ;)

inherwritemind1 said...

Hi Ello,

Your comment on Erica's blog about the meh factor of Life of Pi (totally agree; I couldn't get into it) inspired me to visit you.

Learning something new -- especially as an adult -- is what keeps the synapses firing.

Tena

writtenwyrdd said...

Such wonderful feedback! A good teacher makes a class, IMO.

Aine said...

How wonderful! Teachers are so underappreciated. I do regret being too shy to say thank you to many of the fantastic teachers I've had through the years. I'm glad your students made the effort to show their appreciation!

Sarah Hina said...

You deserve it, Ello!! I can just imagine that with your mixture of wit, smarts, quickness, and humor, you must be a one-in-a-million teacher. It sounds like the perfect blend of give and take, and respect. I would love to sit in and see you have at it. :)

(Sorry I haven't been by in awhile--I've been reading religiously on bloglines, but sometimes I forget to comment! I've been working on my novel revisions, too.)