When You Don't Realize What You're Missing

Yesterday, I had a great chat over coffee with one of the professors in my faculty. We were going back and forth about our research interests and teaching experiences, and I must have sounded more enthusiastic when I mentioned my last experience as a high school teacher, because she smiled and said, "I bet you miss them."

In that moment, I didn't; I told her I'd loved every age I'd taught, but I was enjoying my B.Ed students here, and I was so fully immersed in my studies that I hadn't stopped to miss them. And in that moment, it was true.

But today, when I was in the middle of revising an article I'm working on, I got an email, and then another, from my former students. They sent group pictures and snippets of information about their class and their semester, and I emailed right back, eager to engage with students who I taught for two years.

And now, after a flurry of email exchanges and silly group photos, after sharing a bit of my campus and my work with them and listening to the stress they will put into an email (and the stress they won't), I am missing these students and that experience terribly.

It's true; I've loved every age I've ever taught. But this particular group of students left a bigger imprint on my heart, it would seem, and hearing from them is bittersweet.

There are teachers I've had over the years who I still maintain some level of connection with, thanks to the Internet. There are some who I haven't talked to since being in their classes, but who have a daily impact on the way I teach and think. And there are students I think about regularly from over a decade of experience; classroom moments and snapshots, powerful conversations and questions that stick with me.

Every student I've ever taught is part of my practice and my goals, but I will not deny the "specialness" of this particular group of students to me (and to others who taught with me).

So I'm giving myself permission to miss them today, and to realize that while I didn't know I missed them yesterday, I think I've been missing them all along.

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