When I first began teaching nearly 15 years ago, I would often wonder what became of students once they moved away or grew up. Some stayed around the area or on occasion I would run into their parents and I could catch up.
However, with the advent of social media, I am able to reconnect with many former students no matter where their lives have taken them. It is always thrilling to hear of them getting married, traveling the world, becoming parents, or starting careers.
Because I do not accept friend requests or other connections from former students until they have graduated or are out of our school district (this is for my protection and for theirs — who hasn’t heard a news report of a horror story that began online?) it is also really cool to see relationships transform. As my former students become adults, they sometimes look to me as a friend rather than a teacher. I am no longer an authority, but a confidante, a resource, and an opponent on Words with Friends or online Scrabble. (And there is nothing more embarrassing than getting a smack down on a vocabulary game by someone you taught vocabulary to in 7th grade.)
Tonight, I had a “Girls’ Night Out” with a friend who many years ago was a student of mine. When she was in high school in another town, she sought me out online. She needed some adult guidance and wanted the insight of an objective party. I felt honored she went out of her way to reconnect with me.
As social media continued to evolve, she continued to stay in touch and keep me informed of the happenings in her life. As is the case with all my former students, I loved hearing from her. Eventually, she graduated, went to college, got married, and she is expecting her first child.
Now I am less of a figure of guidance for her as much as I am a listening ear. And she is a great encourager for me, also. Now we are two adult women who are friends. Such a cool thing.
I’m so lucky that this is true of my relationships with many several former students who are now adults. Social media has allowed this to happen in many cases. They have evolved into some incredible human beings that really are going to change their communities, professions, and the world. It’s so humbling to know one day I’ll be able to say I knew them way back when.
What a great time she and I both had catching up. We went to dinner and a fashion show where we met up with some other great ladies. The evening was a lot of fun. I have no idea if this is what Mark Zuckerberg or any other patriarchs of social networking had in mind, but this is definitely one of its best purposes.