Making a Lasting Impression… Without Even Knowing It

Footsteps in the Snad

GUEST POST: Today’s article is written by Greg Rhodes, the co-founder, creative director, and overall tech guru for MPJ. Usually, he stays behind the scenes, but a recent email made such an impact on him that he just had to share it with our readers.

I’ve been out of the classroom for a long time now, over fifteen years. But prior to my career transition, I was a math teacher like many of you. During those years, I did my best day in and day out to help students think logically and solve problems creatively… and maybe even have some fun in the process. But did I ever think that any of my hands-on lessons or outdoor projects made any lasting impression on my students? Not for a second.

But all of that changed one day when I received an email from Andy, a former student of mine. It left me absolutely speechless.

Hi Mr. Rhodes!  This email is likely to be out of left field since I haven't seen you in about fifteen years (assuming this is the correct "you"), so I apologize for potentially appearing to be an internet stalker.

Background:  I took geometry with you at Trabuco Hills High School in 1996/97 as a freshman and then struggled with algebra 2 honors the following year.  I am currently (after a rather circuitous journey) in a single subject credential program for chemistry at a local state college.

I have found myself bringing up your geometry class over and over again in class discussions of late, and reflecting somewhat extensively upon that time in my life.  Now, as I write the TPA 2 that is due this Monday, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you that it was a good class, and that it made a lasting impression.

So, thank you.

Wow! Fifteen years later and he’s still thinking about my little geometry class… and even discussing it with his classmates. In my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined that my teaching would leave such a lasting impression on any of my students.

So, here’s a word of encouragement as you prepare to go back into the classrooms (or as already there): Keep pursuing great teaching. Keep asking yourself how to make your lesson better, how to help your students understand deeper.

You are making a difference in the lives of your students. Never forget that. Some will thank you with a card or an coffee mug on Teacher Appreciation Day, and others may never say a thing. But don’t let that stop you from being the teacher they remember with fondness fifteen years from now.

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