2,996? Really?

25 Oct

The other night, Necole was telling me how proud she is that I am a teacher and talked about all of the people I have influenced through the years. Sometimes, we teachers need such encouragement. During the daily grind, our motivation tends to get overwhelmed by grading papers and seeing people nod off in class.

As she talked about all of the people I have taught, I began to wonder something. How many students have ventured into my classes? It would be easy to figure out. Just go back and count. I started teaching in the summer of 2001, when my university needed someone to cover a night class that had three students. Since that summer, I have taught history to 2,996 people.2996

Honestly, many of them have faded from my memory. Others I can still visualize sitting in the room. Some were great students who excelled. Others only showed up half of the time and did not stay in school very long. Sometimes, I wonder where they are and what they are doing. Do they have families? Do they have good jobs? Have their lives gone according to plan? Do they remember anything that they heard in my class? Did I really influence some of them?

Those are questions for which I have few answers, but there are some things for which I am certain.

Certainly, I am glad that I became a history teacher. Sometimes, I feel like an old Rock band playing the same songs over and over. The stories I tell can get monotonous. However, those bands probably like the songs and know that each audience may be hearing them for the first time. I like the stories I tell and get satisfaction in knowing that the students have never heard many of them.

Certainly, I am glad that I became a history teacher because I like the subject. The people. The events. They all interest me. If nothing else happens, then I want the students to realize that the people actually lived. They are not characters in a book. They were happy and mad. They fell in and out of love. They were people just like us. They lived. They died. Somewhere along the way, they made it into my history class.

Certainly, teachers age while the students never do. I started teaching when I was 32 years old. That wasn’t much older than the students. I even had one student who went to high school with my older brother. Back then, I connect through popular culture. We listened to some of the same music and grew up with similar experiences. We could remember many of the same major events.

However, students cycle out, and a new group comes in. Every year, I get older, but the students always stayed in the same age group. They grew up with different experiences and remembering different events. The fall of 2001 was my first full semester, and I can remember being in class on 9/11. The freshmen I am now teaching were just starting elementary school that year.

In essence, I could have been considered part of the same generation with my early students, but I am in a different one from my current students. That’s a big difference. Sometimes, being around a lot of young people makes teachers feel young. At other times, it makes us feel old. In other words, it makes us feel like part of history.

I am not sure what I meant to write in this post, but it is hard to believe that I have taught 2,996 people. It’s also hard to realize that some of them may be out there retelling some of the things I told them, but I hope they are. I hope I have had some influence.

10 Responses to “2,996? Really?”

  1. El Guapo October 25, 2013 at 19:47 #

    I bet more of them remember you then you think.

    • Rick October 25, 2013 at 20:06 #

      That could be. I just hope they remember some of the things I told them.

  2. colemining October 25, 2013 at 19:54 #

    Great post. Got me thinking back too. My number is slightly less, but still surprisingly large. Amazing to think about the people we can influence (or not) in passing over the years.
    I still miss teaching- a lot, sometimes. This is one of those times.

    • Rick October 25, 2013 at 20:07 #

      It’s a great profession. Sometimes, I forgot how influential teachers really are.

      • colemining October 25, 2013 at 20:24 #

        Most definitely. I still recall so many of my teachers with such fondness and gratitude for all the lesson they had to impart. Easy to forget that the same just might apply to some among those I was privileged to teach.

      • Rick October 26, 2013 at 04:06 #

        I’m sure you influenced many.

  3. Teepee12 October 26, 2013 at 04:28 #

    I used to teach. Some of my former students are friends. It’s amazing to me that I had that much influence on anyone. Nice, too. Satisfying. Teaching is honorable work in a world that doesn’t have a lot of honor in it.

    • Rick October 26, 2013 at 04:47 #

      Teaching is a great profession. There’s nothing better than hearing a student say how much they like a class.

  4. seniorhiker October 29, 2013 at 01:50 #

    I taught for more than 30 years. My subjects were mathematics and computer science, but I felt some of the things you expressed so well in this post. By the way, I also love history.

    • Rick October 29, 2013 at 02:50 #

      With those years of work, I am sure there are a lot of students who came out of your classes with ideas that they taken with them. Looking back on my time, it seems like it hasn’t been 12 years and that many students.

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