At the end of TFA Institute, all of us budding teachers had to write a letter to ourselves. The letter was to be a sympathy card; an expression of consolation from past self to future self, to help the latter get through the hard times that would surely be awaiting the former.
My letter included this excerpt:
"...remember... how you realized that what really makes you love this job isn't the abstract sense of good you get, or how "noble" everyone thinks you are, or even the fact that you get to talk about science every day. It's that you get to make real connections with real people. They are not "students" who you get to unload your love of science on, they are people with so much potential waiting to be unlocked. Try to find it in everyone: remember ______, ________ and even _______ -- your proudest stories were just being able to talk to your students as people. Telling ______ he was a natural leader. Telling _______ you admired her courage to challenge you. Telling ________ you'd make sure his mother knew what an amazing student he is. Take the time to make those connections. It's more important than anything you can teach them, and it will be what makes your years as a teacher really matter. Stop being such a ****ing solopsist. Reach out."
For all his cheesiness and sarcastic use of quotation marks, I think past me had (has?) a point. So over the next few posts, I will be writing sketches of some of my favorite, most interesting, and most challenging students (or should it be "students," past self? Touché).