Monday, June 23, 2014

15 Years Later, Here's What They Remember

I was fortunate enough to attend the wedding of two of my former students.  The groom was a young man who I have known for 15 years.  I began coaching him in wrestling when he was in the 7th grade and through his senior year in which I was in his corner as he won a state title.  Any time you get invited to a student's wedding, I guess it reaffirms the impact you had on them.

What struck me the most were the interactions I had with some of the other party guests, former students, some of which I had not seen in 15 years.  Those conversations were not so much revealing as they were reaffirming what I have come to know.  They remembered the experiences and how they were treated.  I wish I paid more attention to this early in my career.

Not one person told me they remembered the notes or the lectures or the packets.  They remembered the experiences and they remembered how they were treated.  We reminisced about stories from the classroom, some things that I did not even remember, but they did.  One student told me he still had respect for me because I yelled at him one time, but did so privately as not to embarrass him in front of his peers.  Unfortunately I immediately thought about the students who received similar treatment from me, but in a more public display.  I do not remember the specifics, but I am certain they do.

Now I am not going to claim I was the world's best teacher, or that I treated every student I ever encountered with kindness and respect.  This was also reaffirmed by the lack of conversation with a couple of the party guests.  I do believe I created experiences often.  They remembered that.  More importantly, they still remembered what they learned.  I also remember drilling them with facts and notes.  They remembered it happening, but not what was supposed to be learned.

I recently saw an interview with soon to be Gahanna principal Bobby Dodd, and something he said connected with me and the conversations with the former students this weekend.  He said, "I can't tell you what I learned because I was too busy memorizing things." I can relate to that, and so can our students, and I'd imagine, you can too.

So before you make copies of that next packet, ask yourself if there is a more creative, engaging way to get the student to learn the desired concept?  15 years from now, it may be something they still remember.

1 comment:

  1. It's always important for us to remember that we're not only teaching the kids in front of us, but we're also having an impact, one way or another, on the adults they will become. Thanks for an honest post.