I recently had an experience of a teacher’s lifetime. I got invited to my former students’ 20th high school reunion. It was a dream come true. I was able to see ‘my products’! Not many teachers get to see their students long after the students leave their class. I hadn’t seen them in 20 years but recent caught up with a few on Facebook. It was wonderful to see how successful and happy they have become. Although truth: I REALLY enjoyed hearing how my class impacted them. I was their HS Physics teacher. It was early in my career and I profusely apologized for being a new teacher. While I have become a much better teacher now, I still had the same passion back then ( I only know because they told me). They reminded me how I made them feel: important, loved, and I believed in them. How many teachers get this kind of feedback years later? My reflection on this experience, hearing from formers as well seeing them, it was my fuel. It keeps me going. It gives me strength to continue to fight the good fight. To keep being positive, keep getting better. Giving me my WHY.
I haven’t done this alone though. I have had people who have believed in me, people who gave me opportunities to improve or have experiences that few have had. That has always been my initial fuel. My starter. My opportunities to shine.
The past couple of years I have had lots of fuel. My professional career has had many accolades the past few years. I had been facilitating professional development for teachers. I flew in zero-gravity with NASA and PPPL. Only a few teachers are certified to borrow lunar rocks and meteorites from NASA, I am one of them. I became an inventor. I had been selected to present my best practices at the NJ Science Convention as well as be a national presenter at the National Science Teacher’s Convention in Boston this past spring. I had been asked to kick off my school district’s STEAM initiative to the BOE. From these experiences I had been asked to go to Washington DC to help out at the USA Science and Engineering Festival and was invited to attend a teacher workshop week with DuPont to represent an INSPIRED teacher. I am also now going to be facilitating teachers at NJEA’s High Tech Hall during the convention in November. Fuel, all Fuel. Getting more and more opportunities. They all just keep adding fuel to my fire. My desire to keep going. To keep getting better at what I do.
I have additional fuel. My students. They greet me with a smile. They are proactive. They ask questions. They THANK ME for TEACHING THEM. The remind me of my WHY. It doesn’t get any better than that. I always think: TEACH THEM WELL. My Fuel.