Thursday, March 29, 2012

Picture Frames, Favorite Students, and Neverland

Here at Slippery Rock University, it is required for Secondary Education majors to complete 40 hours of classroom observation, twenty in a diverse setting and twenty in your content area, before applying to the College of Education.  While completing my 40 hours over Spring Break, I traveled back to the high school I graduated from a mere two years ago.  Seeing my old teachers and conversing with them about education, lesson plans, and classroom management was amazing, but something bothered me.  "Why is our class picture not on your desk anymore?? Who are these new people??"  Like the teacher-befriending, overachievers that my Class of 2010 was, often times we had given signed pictures to our favorite teachers, which they proudly displayed on their desks.  However, two years later, we had been moved to a far corner by the window and replaced with a new group of Juniors and Seniors.  My old English teacher admitted, "When you leave we can't mourn forever.  We have to make new favorites, Werkmeister.  We have to move on."  My teachers then explained to me a different view of one of my previous favorite elements of teaching: never growing up.  Although we, as educators, are granted the "Peter Pan dream," our students are not.  Seeing the same students for four years, five days a week, is a blessing, and often highly enjoyable.  However, at the end of their four years, the kids you relied on for laughs, sarcastic eye rolls, and creative projects, will graduate and leave you behind.  It is all we could desire, as educators, for our students to graduate and become successful, but at the same time it will be very sad.  I never looked at my "Peter Pan dream" in this way, and the realization hit me hard.  However, I guess there is one reassuring fact... even if my Class of 2010 picture has made its way into the corner of the window ledge instead of in the center of my favorite teacher's desk, it's still in the room, and there are new pictures on display.  The kids that impact you are never truly gone, and there are new kids arriving every year, just waiting to become the new "favorite," and have their picture on your desk.  Public education is Neverland, and the "favorite" students are Wendy, John, and Michael Darling.  They may visit Neverland for a few years, but eventually they have to grow up, they can't stay forever.  But while they're with us, we can teach them many things: how to fly, how to dream, to believe in fairies... "So come with me, where dreams are born, and time is never planned. Just think of happy things, and your heart will fly on wings, forever, in Never Never Land!”


  1. Kara,

    I really enjoyed reading this post, because I totally agree that it is like "Neverland." I can understand that the teacher needed to "move on," but I can tell you from experience that there are some students that you always remember. My oldest students are now 30, so I'm comfortable accepting their facebook requests (and believe me, they come in MANY years later, and I STILL remember them.) I recently e-mailed a former student to tell her that I still have the ceramic box she made me one year, and that it holds the paper clips on my desk, just like it did when she made it for me 11 years ago.

    I have been back to Florida and had dinner with families of former students because their parents really appreciated what I did. I have been asked for letters of recommendation, even 5, 6, and 7 years after students have graduated. I even had a student "google me" and find my e-mail at pitt a few years ago.

    I truly became a teacher because I wanted to work with teenagers, but along the way I found out I had a true passion for teaching. But believe it or not, I remember most of my students! I've even had some find me on facebook and apologize for being so bad!

    So just because you aren't on the desk doesn't mean the teacher has forgotten about you, it just means that they are focusing on the current bunch.

    I've only been at SRU for a year, but I guarantee that if one of you e-mails me in 10 years, I will totally remember the positive relationship we had.

  2. That is the saddest yet cutest way to explain it. I have to admit that I never really thought of it this way because I wanted to get out of high school as fast as I could due to various reasons, but I fondly remember my favorite teachers. I actually babysit for one of my old teachers, and we never talk about when I was in his class, although he lets me ask questions.

    Again, I really like how you related this to Peter Pan. It is probably one of the most well known stories, and it really made me think about what it will be like to say goodbye to students.