There are not many other jobs than teaching where you can truly be invested, on a personal scale, in the development of a young person over a substantial period of time. I feel massively privileged that this is one of the perks of the job.
If any student out there wonders why the vast majority of us teachers have that somewhat embarrassing habit of asking about how you’re getting on, or trying to spark up a conversation (sometimes preceded by a cheesy wave or something) when they bump into you around town, you can trust me that the intentions are genuine!
I can’t speak for all teachers, of course, and I don’t want to typify or stereotype my colleagues, but when you get to know someone and have direct influence in nurturing them for years (not just academically) then you’re invested in them, and have a loco-parentis sense of pride. All my ex-students, particularly ones who took GCSE Geography and especially those ones who had the (maybe unfortunate ;)) experience of having me as their Geography teacher or form tutor for their entire high-school tenure from 11 to 16 have a special place in my heart, second only to my own kids and family. This is one of the reasons why I’m a vehement defender of young people, when some conversations go down the “Oh, you’re a teacher!? I don’t know how you can work with kids…” route! But that’s another issue 😉
So today is the second of two days at Wymondham College, and by far and away the highlight was seeing three ex-students of mine who were in a Year 13 class. Firstly you (as in the teacher) get excessively nostalgic, then full of pride how they are turning into young adults, then an intense feeling of getting old about how you remember them coming to high-school transition day when they were 10 years of age! With their busy schedule it was only a shame there wasn’t more time to catch up…
And it doesn’t stop after leaving full-time education. I had the chance to catch up with Chris Reeve a couple of days ago, who was in my first ever form class (we both started at Fram in 2005). And although it was a quick lunch, coffee and chat, it was just lovely to find out how he is getting on, from doing a bit a journalism with Norwich City FC to consulting people in their digital footprint. I still couldn’t convince him to call me ‘Steve’ instead of ‘Sir’… old habits… 😉
Whether it’s a serendipitous meeting of an ex-student now in their early/mid-20s or chatting to their parents about how they’re getting on, it’s fascinating to hear about the range of things they get up to. Of course, I’ll always have a special sense of pride of those who say they’ve ended up in a Geography-related degree at university, or job partially due to their experience at school. 😉
So all of you out there who had to put up with me for part of your schooling – I hope you’re getting on well and keep being true to yourself. 🙂