The thing I love most about being an educator is when my former babies surprise me.
Friday, I had this very thing happen. I got a call on my classroom phone that said that a visitor was there for me and if it would be ok if the person came to my room. I wasn't expecting anyone to come by so of course I was extremely nervous. But next thing I know I hear a familiar voice at the door and the voice hollers out, "Who it be? Candy B!" I almost fell jumping out my chair rushing to the door to grab this baby up in an embrace. I hadn't seen her in roughly a month, since her last break. When she entered, she spoke to me and then proceeded to talk to several of the students who were still in the room. What she proceed to do literally blew me away.
She is in her second semester of her freshman year at MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University). And the kids were curious about her experiences. So she gave them a very candid rundown of how her freshman year had been treating her. She propped herself up on one of the student desks and gave them "the real."
She discussed organizational skills, partying, time management, struggles, responsibility... I was so amazed listening to her that I started recording her as she spoke. I paid close attention to how engaged the other students were and how they asked her questions and how candidly she answered those questions. Just to hear and see this young woman and know that I had a hand in her academic achievements and growth. My cup runneth over.
The most insightful thing I believe she said to the students she was speaking with was, "Ya'll college teaches you responsibility. Ain't nobody gon' be there to tell you to get stuff done. Your professors give you a syllabus and if you don't have your stuff and you tell them you forgot, that's on you. You gotta write things down and make sure you get them done or you gon' be through." As she said this, all of the kids are looking at me with faces that say, "Ms. Brown has been saying this."
It's one thing for me to tell the kids something and hope they take heed to it. But it's more valuable when they hear the same thing from their peers. I wasn't upset when the information clicked with them after my former student said it. On the contrary, I was more than happy and wished other students had been present to hear the jewels that she was laying out for them. This led to her being invited back to speak to the entire senior class. From that, it led to the creation of a panel of former students being invited to speak to the senior class. These students are going to come to the school and share their "life after graduation" stories and I couldn't be more pleased.
I think this should be a tradition in all high schools. Most kids have no idea what they want to do or where they want to go after graduation. Just think about it- the term commence means to begin or start. They have no idea what they want to do with this new beginning. Bringing in students who aren't too far removed from the seats that these students are currently sitting in can be enlightening and encouraging. Whether the students are in community colleges, universities, trade schools, or in the workforce, it doesn't matter. As long as they are open and honest about their experiences and the kids are willing to listen- that's the goal. Who knows how many of our babies could be helped just by hearing about their successes, failures, and perseverance. I'm so excited to be putting this together.
As a matter of fact... let me get off of here so I can reach out to the panel and provide them with a plan of action.
If you'd like to see the video I recorded of my student speaking, you can visit my Facebook page- The Life of an Educator by Candous S. Brown. Like and Share! Leave a comment as well! I'd love to know your thoughts!