At the end of every school year, I used to wish that I had a magic crystal ball that would allow me to see into the future so that I could know how my students would turn out, who they would grow up to be and what they would do. So much potential in that group of smiling kiddos who were more focused simply on the summer in front of them.
I started teaching in 1996, so those first students I had are now in their late 20’s, all (or at least mostly!) grown up.
Facebook has ended up being that magic crystal ball, sort of in reverse. I’ve had several students seek me out there, which is a wonderful feeling – that they not only remember me but have some interest in connecting all these years later. If they friend me, and they’re now 18 or older, I will gladly friend them back. And often connecting with one leads to connecting with others from that same class.
Sometimes, though, reconnecting with a former student is more serendipitous. My cell phone started dying a few weeks ago. It was holding a charge for less and less time to the point that I couldn’t use it to record a bike ride on my Strava app because it wouldn’t last the length of a ride. And, being the data geek that I am, I need those rides recorded! I want stats and PRs!
So I headed to the local store for my cell provider, where I seem to spend hours every other year figuring out which phone and plan to get next.
Even though I hadn’t seen him in 12 years, when the guy working behind the desk greeted me, I recognized him immediately. He’d been one of my fifth graders! He had started to introduce himself, saying his first name, and when I responded with his last name, I think it freaked him out a bit. So that was fun.
I told him who I was, and he did remember me, fortunately. In addition to helping me get my new phone, I got to hear about where he’d gone to college, what activities and sports he’d been involved in, how things were going for him. It was so nice to be able to connect.
As a bonus, he gave me what he called the “Favorite Teacher Discount.” And, even better, he gave me a hug before I left.