- Paula Cristina Azevedo
The season of graduation is upon us. Many of our students are moving on to the next grade level, graduating from one school to the next, or graduating into new careers. We have seen our students mature in our classrooms and learn in great depth about themselves and the world around them. This journey of academic, social, and emotional maturity has not always been easy. We have witnessed, and in many cases been entrenched with our, students struggling to learn to read, write, problem solve, critically analyze, and form new hypothesis. We’ve guided them through the process of learning with various teaching techniques and differentiation strategies that we’ve studied through the years of higher education and professional development. We’ve encouraged and cheered our students on as they made great strides in their learning and had those “aha!” moments that we teachers cherish and hold onto as a beacon of hope, especially on those tough days when all seems to be lost. We even cried with our students who lived through traumatic experiences, wishing we could take all their pain and suffering away, and wondering how this child will continue to survive not only in your class but in this world.
Our students joys are our joys; their sadness is our sadness; their successes and failures are our success and failures. We are so deeply connected to each one of our students, and yes, even the ones that we don’t get along with. This connection is rooted not only in our passion for our profession and the subject matters we teach, but also the love for our students. We understand that within each child and teenager we work with are infinite possibilities. We know that we are just one small part of our students’ lives, but no matter how insignificant we may be to their lives we know that our actions and words, in and outside of the classroom, may have lasting impact on their lives.
I’m sure all of you have had this type of exchange with a student or former student:
Student: “Ms. Azevedo, I just want to tell you you’ve changed my life.”
Teacher: “What?!? What do you mean?”
Student: “Remember when you said something about owning your own life and taking responsibility for your life choices?”
Teacher: “No, I’m sorry I don’t.”
Student: “Well, I heard that and it really made me think about some of my life choices and if these choices were leading me to be the person that I want to be and that I’m proud of. And because of that I started making some different choices and really focusing on my studies. And because of you I want to help people too.”
Teacher: Silence. Tears running down her face, reaches out to embrace student.
We’ve all had those moments. Whether it’s in a written note or an interaction with a student. Though those moments are few and far inbetween, they are the moments that we say to ourselves, “This is why I show up everyday and do this difficult but important work.”
As our students move on into another phase in their lives, it gives us pause to reflect on our lives. Watching our students graduate may cause a time of deep reflection about major milestones in our lives. We reflect on our teaching and how we can continue to face the same and new challenges in and outside of the classroom. Yes, another year has passed. Another graduating class is moving on into the next stage in their lives. And you’ll be back in your classroom continuing to do what you do and inspiring another generation of hearts and minds in the process.
Share your stories of when a student shared how you impacted his/her life on my Facebook page. Also, don’t forget to sign up for email updates, like my page on Facebook, and follow me on Instagram. and Pinterest.