Another Year in the Books | Mark’s Remarks

How many “last day of school” columns have I written? This year, I’m wrapping up year 27, which boggles my mind. I don’t have many years left, as I’ve told my students. I think they think I’m kicking the bucket.

Some colleagues and I were talking the other day about how fragile a teacher’s ego can be sometimes. We have all experienced being the new teacher on the block, enjoying a bit of popularity and admiration.

But we’ve also experienced the negatives: that one parent who bad-mouths you or the colleague or administrator who get’s onto you about something or makes you feel as if you aren’t doing a good job. You can have a year full of positives and suddenly feel as though you don’t know what you are doing anymore.

A few negatives can take years to erase, really. We’ve all been there.

This time of the year is a time for reflecting, though.  This is the time when you see a lot of former students. You bump into them at graduations and out on the town. I’m starting to run into former students who have little ones tagging along with them. After the initial shock, it’s nice to see them.

Even though you can look back and see all the bad choices you made or the mess-ups, these former students seem to recall only the good stuff. The positive influence, that little bit of help you gave on that one particular worksheet, a pat on the back, the time you lent them a quarter for “soda day.”

These are the things kids remember.

One of my former students’ moms came up to me the other day and talked for quite some time about former teachers her son had. He is now finishing college, but she seemed to have a razor sharp memory and provided anecdotes for many of his former teachers. I was pleased to hear that he was still repeating some things he’d learned from me in third grade — third grade math!

I never fancied myself much of a math person, so the fact he remembered something from my math class really floored me; and it made me feel good.

As she spoke about his other teachers, I could tell that her family had appreciated the hard work and the dedication that teachers provide. This last day of school, as we smile and say goodbye to these students, as joy exudes from our battle-worn faces and as we look forward to a brief respite (yes, summer flies by, I’m afraid), I hope all teachers get to hear some little story that makes them feel that they are doing a good job. I hope those of us with negatives are able to experience some rejuvenation and a new feeling of purpose.

When you take the time to let a teacher know he or she is appreciated, it’s… well, it’s appreciated right back.

Have a great summer!

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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