Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What Teachers Really Want

All teachers would love to have well-behaved, motivated students with parents who care. They would like to have higher salaries and less paperwork. But what do they really want?

I think they would love to see the end product of their efforts.

I have been writing this blog for about two months now. It has been time-consuming and nerve-wracking at times, but I love it. The reason I love it is because as soon as I click the “Publish” button, I can see the results of my labor. I can tell immediately if it looks right, if it says the right things, if I’ve made my point. It is immediately gratifying.

The same is true of most jobs. A construction worker gets to see the finished building. A nurse gets to see her patient get well (hopefully). A lawyer gets to hear the verdict of the jury. A designer gets to see his fashions on the runway. A salesman gets to make that final sale and shake hands with the customer.

But teaching is not like any of those things. Teachers plan their lessons, write tests, check papers, lecture, manage projects, guide students, send reports. But when it’s all said and done, they rarely, if ever, get to see the fruits of their labor.

Only once in a while does a former student return so that the teacher can see what he or she has become, and know that whatever the student has become is due in some small part to their efforts. The problem is, students rarely return. In all the years of teaching math, I can probably name them on one hand…a lab technician, a wall street broker, a teacher, a real estate agent, a nurse, and maybe a few more.

I really would love to know where my former students are, what they’re doing, and did my teaching them help them in any way. Did something I say or teach inspire them to become a doctor or pharmacist or meteorologist or NASA scientist or author or musician or soldier?

Next time you run into one of your former teachers, let him or her know what you've been up to. If you have teachers who influenced your life, even in the slightest, let them know. It will make their day. They really do want to know how you turned out.

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