Teacher Tales: End of Semester Reflections
The semester is over. There aren’t any more attached papers for me to look through. I won’t hear any anxiety-ridden voices on the other end of the phone asking to meet with me to help find a topic. There won’t be any more pumpkin-spiced lattes lazily curling steam from narrow plastic slits, or any more goodies covertly smuggled from home to share. I’m ok with that.
As much as I love my students, and feel blessed to have become friends with a few of them, there comes a time when life needs to move along. Of course, I will tell the current crop that they can feel free to email me anytime they want, but know full-well that
I won’t ever hear from, or see most of them again. Maybe there’s some cosmic reason for this, but I think I would much rather have the ability to check in them once in awhile just to see how their lives progress- unobtrusively, like a fly on the proverbial wall.
Logically, I know that most of them will “make it”. They will earn their Associate’s degree, move onto their four-year schools, and so forth. There are a few of them I worry about. I know that sounds silly, but in a very real way, their lives become, in part, a slice of mine. I get to know them. I hear about their families, their friends, and significant others. They share their fears and dreams, as though I am a free therapist. In many ways, I am a therapist. I listen to them. I can hear frustration and joy in their voices. I know when they’re not feeling well mentally. Maybe stress and daily pressures get them to open up, and it wouldn’t matter who was on the listening end of the conversation. I don’t know.
I always feel good when, at the end of the semester, the students come back and tell me what grades they’ve earned- and thank me for helping them. It kind of makes the impending sadness at not seeing them every week a little more palatable. We all look for some kind of validation for ourselves. Whether it’s validation from friends, coworkers, or family members, we all want to know that our efforts are appreciated- and have helped someone else. Knowing that the people I’ve worked with for 16 weeks have improved their study habits, writing skills, or have gained some knowledge they can apply for the rest of their lives is pretty rewarding.
While each semester brings with it new challenges and new personalities to understand and work with, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The other teachers I work with feel the same way. I am proud of the combined efforts of the folks I work with because I know their hearts are dedicated to helping, teaching, and guiding young adults towards successful lives. These highly learned and skillful instructors take what they do very seriously, and love the idea of passing along the considerable knowledge they’ve acquired over the years.
To you, gentle reader, I pose this challenge. Become a mentor of some kind. There are plenty of young people who would greatly appreciate your time and attention. Become someone’s hero or heroine. It doesn’t take much of a financial investment to change someone’s life for the better. Yes, there can be a significant time investment, but very few of us, myself included, really utilize our time to the best of our abilities. You don’t need to be a genius, or a high-powered executive to be a positive force for someone else. There are plenty of young folks who could benefit from your unique perspective, knowledge, and experience.
God bless you; have a wonderful holiday season. ~Professor Keizer