Saturday, June 6, 2015

                             HUSBANDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS


      Last night, Mr. Wonderful and I went out for Chinese. I was sipping my Chardonnay when he says to me, “This soup is wonderful! It smells like my pet collie’s fur.” “What?!” I exclaimed laughing till I almost fell off my chair. Yup, husbands say the darndest things. This blog is not about dog hair, however, it’s about teaching. This morning, he said, “Your career is a gift that keeps on giving.” He’s right. Teachers who touch lives find out that students no matter how old they are will remember you if you care.

     This morning, I received a message on facebook from a former student who is in his 50s. (My oldest students are in their 60s - that’s effen scarey). Anyway, he told me about his life from the time he left my classroom until now. I was fascinated by his story and touched by his feeling comfortable telling me. Teachers who care are always interested in the lives of our students. Students are like our children, and we hope that some tiny piece of what we teach, do or who we are will stay with them and guide them in their life paths. Apparently, I accomplished a little of that with this student, and it made my day. This is partly why I miss my career--interacting with young people and watching them blossom is an experience hard to duplicate in other careers. (Maybe my shrink might like to know I’m still functioning though zany). 

     Teachers have an opportunity to parent children whose parents can’t reach them or don’t want or have time to. Teachers have a chance to see students interact with others that parents don’t often do. Teachers have a chance to be the “safe adult.” We have the opportunity to nurture, to motivate, to inspire, to gently correct, to teach much more than our subject matter. As a foreign language teacher, I could teach psychology, philosophy, art, music, literature---any topic I wanted, as long as it was in French and connected to whatever part of the language I was teaching at the time. I could tell my stories in French so I could teach them the lessons I was learning myself. They had to listen, understand, reflect and write essays in response. Many didn’t realize I was teaching them life skills in disguise.

     I feel so badly that teachers are being criticized, poorly paid and not respected for the important job they do. I follow some of my former colleagues on facebook, and I continue to be amazed at their dedication, their energy and their love for their students. The headlines never mention them. My daughter spends hours advocating for kids, talking kids off the ledge, trying to explain to parents that they have to be “present” not just “home.” The media is finally paying attention to bullying, but what about all the good things kids accomplish? 

     When I look back on my schooling, there are a few teachers who stand out. Most were in elementary school and in college. They have a special place in my heart because they saw me as “Sandy” not just as a name on a list. They took extra time with me, and some recognized my gifts and encouraged me at an early age to use them.

     Yup, husbands say the darndest things, but what students say warms my heart.