Thursday, October 10, 2013

Forget me yes

I used to think that the worst thing in the world was to be forgotten. I used to feel crushed when I ran into a former student and he didn't recognize me or remember my name. Gosh, I thought, I had 25 students in your class last year/five years ago/fifteen years ago, and yet I remember you (to some degree) and at the time, you seemed to enjoy my class. How could you forget me?

I was walking through the hallway this morning next to another teacher and a knot of students approached us, all smiles. I recognized the group -- we had had a really successful class last year, full of laughter, rigorous thinking and innovation. A great year; they all performed well and were proud of themselves and the class. One spoke up and said, "You are my favorite class!" To a teacher, that makes sense. I was about to say something when I realized that the student was talking to the teacher next to me. My heart fell. I thought I was the best. I thought my class would be the one which left that indelible mark. And here I am, replaced by October.

My gut says to lash out. Frailty, thy name is student! O heavens! There isn't hope a great teacher's memory may outlive his class half a year. [wow...that Hamlet play is really useful.]

But then I pushed ego aside. I tried to grow up. This schooling thing isn't about me. It is about a student's positive experience. I don't WANT him to remember me because I want him to be so overwhelmed with great teachers who inspire and entertain, teach and guide that I want it to be impossible to remember me amidst the throng of fabulous educators. If I am the favorite then that means that all the other teachers don't match up and I know that that isn't true. I want students to move ahead and make connections with new people, to get excited by other classes and not to be stuck in their old experiences. I think the best thing I can see is a student whose eyes light up when other teachers walk by and who, when they see me, smile and nod politely.

Sure, it is nice when a student from years ago says "I have had 50 teachers since you but still, you are the tops" but when it doesn't happen I won't see it as a failure for me, but a success for the educational system and that student.


  1. I remember you Fred. And you are the tops.

    From your favorite robot.

  2. wow, completely agree, very well written


Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.