“Mr. Shoemaker….I need help…”
Those are the words that teachers here all the time. It’s our job as teachers to help students to understand the material that is being covered, to help with projects, and to help students become successful life long learners. I think of myself not so much as a teacher, but more of a facilitator. Great role for me, and my students enjoy it as well. I teach students from 3-8th grade. I have the luxury to have my students for several years in a row before they head off to high school. Since my children are in the same high school and my wife works in the high school I still run into my former students. My wife and I try to be active with our students by cheering them on in sports and in the classroom.
Last week, I got a message from a former student, Billy, who wanted me to help him build a model of the Parthenon. To be honest, I have never built a model of that particular building so I took that as a challenge. I wasn’t surprised that his project was to build a model. That’s his learning style. We built a lot of different projects in my class when he was my student. For example, we built spaghetti buildings, toothpick bridges, a carousel out of K’Nex parts, and mouse trap model cars.
The thing I like about this student, is the fact that he is a very typical gifted student. He works hard, and he is able to see what he wants to build in his head. He is pretty good at describing it. (We also got on-line and got some plans.) He sets his standards high for his projects and tries to meet those standards. He really takes pride in his work. He is a well-rounded student. He is athletic and a strong academic leader.
We began to build the model after we scour the building for some cardboard. It is pretty cool to be able to reminisce about the “old times” with my former students. That’s what we did as we built this model.
Honestly, I was surprised to be asked by Billy. Most of my students are self-dependent, and don’t ask for help until they are drowning. But to be asked and to be able to help was a great moment for me. I think it goes to the fact that we have a trusting relationship. I invested a lot of time in his life as a teacher, and he has done everything I have asked in the classroom. At times he surpassed my expectations. He is a great leader in the classroom, and he encourages others to follow him. Pretty impressive for a Freshman.
The point that I am making is that a teacher’s job is never done. Even though students move on, they grow up, and graduate, you are still their teacher. Teachers should be there for their students. Making your self availiable is a great quality to have. That’s what makes a great teacher. That’s what I love about my profession. You don’t always see how your students will grow up, but as they move on through school, I want you to follow your students. Cheer them on! Remember you invest a lot of time in their life. Don’t limit yourself to just the classroom.
I want to thank him for allowing me to help him. I hope to have the finished project up later next week.