Thursday, October 6, 2011

Say Nice Things: Potentially Awkward Facebooking.

My husband has a soft spot for kids who struggle in school. It's the real reason he became a high school teacher and the basis on which he decided to coach not one, but two, sports. It's the reason, too, that he's such an effective teacher. He was not a star student himself, so his expectations are that his students will commit to hard work and follow through, not that his students will be the best at everything.

My husband. He's amazing.

But this isn't about him. This is about the piece of paper he brought home with him the other day. I was elbow-deep in finishing up making dinner while trying to keep an eye on two hungry and hyper kids as they dismantled the living room systematically when he walked in about 40 minutes later than expected. I wasn't too shocked since he's currently coaching football and any spouse of a coach could tell you that schedules during the team's season can be unpredictable at best. So when he set down a piece of paper on the counter and asked me for a favor, I believe I mumbled back something to the effect of, "Sure, hon. Can you get the kids set up for dinner, please?"

When I finally had the time to look at the paper, I recognized it immediately as a high school essay. Rather, the terribly written thesis paragraph of a high school essay. His request was simple: look it over and provide some feedback. And when I dug a little deeper I couldn't say no: it was written by a kid whose mom raises him alone and works 2 jobs, so she's never home to read his homework.

Later, he told me he was impressed with how quickly I'd been able to edit and provide feedback. Mind you, I didn't correct the kid's paper for him. What I DID do was give him some prompts to help him clarify his writing and improve his thesis. But the conversation about my ability to do that quickly and help him rewrite his thesis so it at least got a passing grade prompted a discussion about how much I love editing writing. Which, of course, lead to a discussion about how I should have gotten a literature degree. (Add that to the list of about 5 or 6 other things I wish I had the time and money to do with my life.)

Which, in turn, led me to remember one of my favorite teachers, Mr. W. He was my honors English teacher in 8th grade, and he really impacted my life in so many ways. So on a whim, I decided to google him to see if he still teaches.

He does. And he has a Facebook account. You know where this is going, right? (And I confess I lied a bit about the context under which I found him on FB, but only because I didn't want him to think I was e-stalking him.)

Hi Mr. W. You probably don't remember me, but I was a student of yours (You also taught my older brother, X) in year - year. I was going through an old yearbook the other day and reminiscing about your class. I remember my mom telling me a few years ago that you'd written a book, so I decided to look it up and found you on here.

I just wanted to let you know that, almost 20 years later, I still remember and appreciate your class. I've always had a love for writing, and I think classes like yours helped make that love stronger. It's a dream of mine to someday write a book, and it was great teachers like you who gave me the foundation to be able to write and trust my voice. I realize this is a random message to get on Facebook, but I have always believed that rather than just having nice thoughts about a person, one should share them. So, thank you for being an amazing teacher.

I hope you are well.

To date, I haven't heard back from him, but that's ok. What matters is that I wrote it, right?

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