Last semester I ran into one of my former high school students, a girl from an AP calculus class. She told me she graduated Queens College with a degree in Human Relations and after nine months working for a firm that was making her miserable she decided to return to school, come to the community college to make up courses she needed to go on to become an occupational therapist. We planned on getting together but things came up and we never made it, until today.
We sat and chatted for about an hour. It was great seeing her and hearing about how great she is doing. The words that rang out for me was when she told me she learned to love math in my class and how she had no idea how she even ended up in an advanced placement math class as her math grades leading up to the class were not very good. I didn't want to tell her that I would bet being the same race as the assistant principal might have had something to do with her being in the class as other students, possibly more qualified were not allowed in, but that is another post, ones addressed on this blog many times. Anyway, all ended good for this young woman. She got a 3 on AP exam, enough to get college credit and never having to take math again.
I worked for an AP who, day after day, tried to make me feel like I was the world's worst teacher.In fact, years after I left, he still spent many department meetings talking about what an awful teacher I was. I'm glad I never bought into his nonsense and left before he had any real power to destroy my career but I know he is doing the same to teachers still in the school and good, caring teachers are leaving in droves before they are actually ready to go.
The real evaluation of what I do and did as a teacher comes from the students who sat in my class daily. A young woman who graduated in 2010 still remembers how she felt and learned in my class lets me know I really did make a difference. The students are the ones who know.