I just saw a Facebook post from one of my favorite high school teachers. He was referencing a new tent his wife bought for their young son, lamenting how it was overtaking his living room.
- I can relate. Our house is a veritable Carnivale de Toddler.
- His personality hasn’t changed one bit throughout the years.
But I also noticed something else when I was on his page. Names. Lots of names. Names I recognized. Names of old classmates, to be exact. All commenting on an old teacher’s Facebook page, some 15 years after most of us had graduated.
Why is this? Why would old students take the time to catch up with an old teacher and stay connected with him throughout the years? I think it’s for three simple reasons.
- He cared. “Mr. C”, as we affectionately called him, was genuinely interested in our lives as students. He cared about our families, our interests, and our day-to-day lives. In short, he saw his role as more than an “Information Peddler.”
- He treated us like adults. Unlike some of our high school teachers, Mr. C treated us as equals. Sure, he had the relational and positional authority, but he never used that against us. I remember feeling empowered and supported in his classes. I remember him giving us real responsibilities, like running an actual radio station, that caused us to act like adults. Sure, not all of us lived up to our potential, but most did. All because he didn’t baby us. I really appreciated that.
- He taught us as it really was. One of my favorite things about Mr. C was his take on life. He was a teacher, yes, but he was also in the marketplace. He had a part-time gig outside of the school and that shaped his teaching style. It wasn’t some sterile perspective that came from some textbook. No, it was a vantage point that that was colored by the real world. He taught us as things were, not as they should be. Never pessimistic, just tangibly practical. Reality is a powerful motivator.
It was those things (and countless others) that made Mr. C a great teacher. It’s what made such an impact on so many of us. It’s what led us to stay connected to him, even when our time together was long gone. We had hordes of other teachers. 95% of whom we forgot. But not Mr. C.
So many people are waiting to be coaxed into their potential. They just need a helpful hand to get there. Mr. C helped me (and many others) do just that. For that, I’m thankful.