Day 6: When They Grow Up and You Just Get Older

I’ve been seeing a lot of former students lately.  Occasionally where there’s something going on at the high school level groups of kids will return to school to come visit.  They don’t know this, but I relish those moments.  Seeing their teenage faces, hearing about their successes in high school, these things make me happy.  It’s always so funny to watch my current class gasp in wonder when a group of teenagers walks in the door.  Of course, they are overjoyed at the interruption in the middle of math class.  But I wonder if they see themselves in those teenagers, it won’t be so many years before they grow up too.  Their changes will by physical (getting taller, deeper voices, teenage acne) and emotional (first loves, the uncertainty of choosing a college, emerging into the job world).

Of course when I hear of students from my first class heading off to college I start to feel old.  Which is no comparison to teachers I’ve worked with who have taught a student and then that student’s child! But still.  However, even though I continue to age, I’m not growing up.  You see I’m growing down.  Working in the education field gives you the distinct pleasure of getting to stay connected to your inner child.  For example, the other day I was testing out a robot and rolled it into a fellow teachers classroom in the middle of a lesson.  It was childish.  We all had a good laugh.  Seeing life through each new generation’s eyes keeps us connected to some fundamental truths about life.  Good instruction is important, but so is having fun and taking time to play.

My former students will have to grow up, face the harsh realities of adulthood some day.  I’ve been there and done that.  I may be getting older, but you can’t make me grow up.

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7 thoughts on “Day 6: When They Grow Up and You Just Get Older

  1. sallydonnelly11

    You’re so right. As a teacher, I do have fun! Yet it is not something I always think about. Your post today has me appreciating my job, a job I’ve had now for 23 years, in a whole new way. Thank you. Your writing did that!!

  2. Ditto. “Relish” is such an apt word for those moments. I teach 8th grade, so when I see or hear from former students it is just so…energizing, moving, humbling…I never know what to ask first and I want to get through the cursory questions (how is school, what are your plans) to get back to the good stuff like truly hearing how they are. Sometimes we have time for that, somethings not, but I love that you acknowledge this hidden gem of being a teacher. It just might be my favorite part.

  3. I love the idea of growing down. That’s the place we should all be- teacher or not. And you have realized one of the best parts about teaching happens years later. Thanks for all you do.

  4. Lynn

    Amen to that! “Good instruction is important but so is having fun”. . . Words I spoke for years!

  5. My first students (and second and third, etc.) have started having families of their own. Just “liked” a post on Instagram of one of my students who is due with her first next month. It does make me feel old, but I love seeing these new, chubby faces. I think of it as a legacy, more than my age. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  6. mlvteach

    I loved this post! With everything else we teachers do, we also need to have fun. In fact, at my school this year, we changed our old vision statement from “We expect success” to “We believe in the joy of learning.” I always think that the first thing I need to do is make school fun so that my fourth graders look forward to school days. If they want to be at school and if they think learning is fun, the rest is (relatively) easy.

  7. That’s a lovely perspective to have, and I am going to treasure it, even as I accept the gray hairs that age brings!

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