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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Students

I saw The Students for the last time yesterday night. I suppose I will see some of them again as they move through the years, for I may teach them in other modules. But I ended last night's lesson with a sense of regret... almost like a little bit of loss.

After all these years spent teaching people in one capacity or another, a teacher gets used to telling herself that it's a thankless job. Whatever intensity of care and concern you feel goes out of you and becomes diluted amongst the numerous students you have to care for. Therefore, each student feels only a little bit cared for. Very often, that little bit of my care that each student feels is not enough to stimulate care, concern and warmth on the part of students for me. And this thankless job is worse with students who believe in their own cleverness. After all, these clever ones tend to reason that it's my job... I am paid to do it.... and I am never clever enough for them.

The thing about The Students is that they don't know how smart they actually are. Maybe that is what makes them adorable... for they are not so arrogant that they judge me harshly when I make a fool of myself in class. It gives me so much satisfaction to reveal to them their potential and communicate to them my hope. And it gives me even more satisfaction when their work flowers under my care.

After 18 years, you tell yourself that you must care even if you know nothing will return to you. That the little improvements they make are rewarding ENOUGH for you to continue caring. After all, students will flow past the classes as names and faces whose lives you touch momentarily but on whom you must leave a mark of some sort... without hoping that they will reach out and touch you back.

What is therefore surprising about The Students was that each found some way to communicate to me that they too cared for how I felt... and that they made an effort to be kind to me. Some made apologies about missing class so that I wouldn't feel badly about their absence. Others gently explained why they wanted to leave class early so that I would not be hurt by their rejection. Yet others leave sweet messages on my Facebook account, banter with me and make my mornings sweet as I sit facing the computer alone in my study room. And did I mention the one who provided a free crash course on pet training techniques?

I feel honoured in more ways than one.

So, the lessons have ended and this class, with its individual character... and individual characters has been dissolved. I am left with the very sweetest thank-you card and a soft sense of wonderment that I actually got something warm and fuzzy back this time, for me to keep.

1 comment:

Blur Ting said...

I'm very sure you'll always be their beloved teacher. :-)