So I have a Facebook, which you could probably surmise from the link at right that says "Facebook". I decided to hop on Facebook when a professor from Puget Sound started touting the wonders of social networking, and then proceeded to point out that many more people my age are on Facebook than teenagers. Yes, students are there. Am I worried about possible problems with the site? Why should I be? I monitor it like any other site and take down the idiot comments (which haven't happened there). Otherwise, I'm the same wise-cracking smart ass there as I am anywhere else.
Anyway, I was added by a former student yesterday, one from my second year of teaching. The awkward part of the add was that this was a student that I thought really hated my guts. I mean, she was a ring leader of the "Mr. Silva-Brown is the Devil Fan Club". To be perfectly honest, I did make plenty of mistakes that I look back at and just cringe. But hell, I was a 2nd year teacher trying to find my bearings and just developing a confidence about my teaching. Back to the student, who while hating my guts, was also incredibly smart and had a great passion for being involved in politics. This was exactly the kind of student that I wanted in my class, but didn't know how to connect with because I was too busy trying to create a consistant classroom management plan. The result was a completely lost opportunity in developing a relationship with a student that had exactly what I was looking for in a potential first-class kid. In fact looking back on that year, I had two classes full of students that had enormous potential in terms of great relationships, but suffered from my lack of experiance. Alas, it would take a full extra year before I made the 'Aha!' about classroom management and began to focus on what really mattered in developing relationships with students.
I guess the tough part is feeling like you let select students down, and I constantly feel like e-mailing some of my early kids and saying, "Wow, I wish you could take the class now because you would love it. I'm just so much better". But getting the add from this one might be a hint of understanding and forgiveness. I also need to remember the student that e-mailed me over the summer stating that she had just graduated college and "threatened" to return to Ukiah and be my student teacher. Or the student from my first year that liked Econ Expo so much that he came back to judged them (a couple of others did the same later). Or running into Jeremey Maine from Mendo Locals, a former student that has a successful business and volunteered to come judge Econ Expo last year.
Maybe this is just another part of the teaching experience, dealing with students that come back and realize that they were kids, and you were really trying. I tell all my students that I refuse to talk political opinions until they take a few years and experience the world, then come back and we'll have a beer or coffee or whatever. This summer I had a request for a beer and coffee. I guess it's time to relax, drop the teacher mode, and just be Jeff to some of the old students.
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