Little Things

I sometimes feel like I have a sort-of reverse nostalgia. Maybe it's perfectionism or a hope in progress. Either way, it works like this: I tend to view the past through a more critical lens than the present. So, when I look back at early years of teaching, I think of the times that I yelled at a class or I used sarcasm or I did things that I no longer believe in (like assigning homework).

However, there are little things that remind me that the sum total of my career (not just this year) has been worth it. These "little things" add up. They mean more to me than good evaluations or awards or pats on the back from the blogger community. And they matter, because they are from the people who know my classroom the best - my students.

Here are some examples:
  • This morning a kid said, "Do you remember during the boring Galileo test when we were nervous and you got up to stretch and made a fake farting noise?" This was followed by the comment, "Trust me everyone from 8th grade remembers lol still my favorite history teach 'cause of your jokes on Fridays and how you made the boring things extremely fun and hilarious."
  • A former student e-mailed me asking to be my student teacher. "Are you still teaching social studies? It was in your class that I fell in love with that subject." 
  • Another kid sent me a Facebook message. "Mr. Spencer, thanks for seeing as more than the kid with autism. Thanks for helping me learn code. I'm working as a software engineer now." For what it's worth, I really didn't teach him anything beyond how to use the Terminal in Linux. He figured the rest out on his own.
  • A student sent me a sample of his artwork with the comment, "They painted over our mural, but they didn't crush my spirit. I'm still drawing and painting."
I run into former students at random places and they have stories that I've already forgotten that are important. I know, I know. The system is broken. The pay sucks. I've screwed up along he way. But those little things above are why I ultimately stick with this job.