I love standing by my door during passing period and seeing my old students pass me. It’s often followed by big smiles on both end, a quick hug, or a pat on the back. Some enter my room and take their seat for another year together, while others keep walking to new classrooms where they will have a year with someone else.
I think about the ones who pass by often. How they are acting. What they are learning. If they remembered our year together.
As much as I hate to use TFA catchphrases, the idea of long term traits and mindsets is very real. If my students cannot remember the basics of what I taught them about being a good reader and writer, as well as about what it takes to work hard and push through struggling times in their school work and life, then I was just another year…another teacher…another face…that did not make a difference.
So when I hear from many of their current 10th grade teachers that my students have a solid foundation of knowledge, that they have a strong voice in their writing, that they are behaving, or that they can tell which students had me last year without even asking, it’s the kind of joy one can only appreciate in reflection. To know that my handprint has endured, that it was remembered and not washed away, is the biggest teacher victory of them all. The work of the gardener is hard when the plot given to them is shallow at most. Yet even in the shallowest of dirt or none at all, roots that hold fast can grow.