Yesterday at the beach I ran into a student who I had taught over 8 years ago.
I was teaching in Manhattan Beach and he was a cheesehead junior sleeping through my Geometry class. He was a nice enough kid and had always been respectful to me. We talked for a few minutes about what he's been doing and then went our separate ways.
On my drive home, I was struck by two thoughts. First, I haven't grown enough in the past 8 years. Not professionally anyway. I think in the next 8 years I want to become more involved. Maybe more prominent. I want to write something. Publish something. Be named to something. Maybe.
My second thought was that I remember kids. Not always their names. But I remember. Let this be an open letter to my students about how they will be remembered.
I'll remember your character first. Be the one who never cheats. Never copying homework and never looking around during tests. Be the one who has enough class to do what is right.
Be the one that takes your medcine when you goof. If you ditch, don't lie about it. If you didn't do your homework, eat the zero without crying about it.
Be the one I remember for your honesty. Be the one that never lies to me or your friends or your family.
Be the one that remembers that you aren't the only one in class. Be aware that others are concerned about their grade and need to hear what I'm saying. Make sure I remember you as being the kid that never disrupted the educational opportunity of others.
Be the one that is on time every day. Pencil poised and book open at the bell. Be the one that never has to have an excuse for being late.
Be the one that I remember for always putting forth a great effort. Be the kid that keeps trying and trying and trying and trying. Understand that failure is part of the process and confusion is not unusual.
Be the kid who is nice to me in the hallways.
Be the kid that I never see trashing the campus with litter or ugly language.
Be the kid that I remember as a leader. Be the one that does the right thing when it isn't popular. Be the one that I see as class act.
When I run into you in 8 years, you will remember me at the one that stood before you every day and put forth his best effort to teach you math. How will I remember you?.