Your Students Are Individuals

How do you view your students - individuals or assembly line components? How were you viewed by your teachers?I was so sad to when I made the decision to resign. For the last year I’ve been teaching students with diagnosed neurological differences. They’ve been remarkable from so many perspectives.

But when I told one of the administrators how much I’ll miss them, the response was a cool, “There are always more students.”

Interchangeable Students

This flippant comment didn’t sit well with me. Of course there are always more students. But saying this implies that this year’s students are merely “numbers.” Numbers that can be interchanged with next year’s students.

Just pieces of the student body. Not people.

Like a set of glassware, students get passed to me to fill with information. Then moved on to make room for another set of glassware for me to fill.

Next year, I’ll have a handful of students that will each be a part of my class. And then the next. And these students can be viewed as individual people or as a batch of just “more students.”

More glassware.

Bon Crowder, Student

I remember the first time I ran into a teacher post graduation.

Her math classes, although not crazy amazing, were quite impactful. And I was excited to share with her that I had chosen math as a major. And how her influence played a part in that decision.

Over the roar of the football crowd, next to the concession stand, I bounced and said, “I’m a math major!”

She smiled and nodded, “That’s great.” Then she moved away to join the Frito-pie line.

I was so disappointed. Here was a woman that I had spent years with. I had discovered and learned so much math with her.

And when I began to share what that meant to me, she didn’t care.

I had been a goblet in her assembly line. I was never a person.

My Promise

It was that moment that formed how I would treat students when teaching.

I never thought of it as a promise, but looking back, it was. I decided to see every student as an individual. Not just some generic one more student.

I don’t remember every student in the way that I remember some, of course. But if they run into me at the grocery store, or happen to be my server at a restaurant, or end up being my attorney, we connect. I remember them. I ask about how things are going.

And I always ask how their math classes were.

I’ve yet to meet a math major. But I’m not discouraged. And it doesn’t matter.

They all have a story. They all grow up.

And they all deserve to be remembered for who they are.



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2 Responses to Your Students Are Individuals

  1. You are a true teacher who understands! So glad I had a chance to work with you (albeit a short time).

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