Who Helped You: An Inquiry Into Others

I asked three people (Julie, Kaitlin, and Randi) the same questions I answered in my previous blog post, To a Past Ally, and realized that the names of their teachers didn’t impact me nearly as much as their reactions to my questions. When I asked them which teacher made the biggest impact in their lives, their answers were immediate, taking no longer than a few seconds to be stated. This was the same across all three people that I interviewed and I found it true in myself as well.

Beyond that, they all smiled, a wistful type of thing. I could see each of them reliving the memories in their mind and I wanted to be in their own head, witnessing what they were reliving. Much of what made teacher stand out to these individuals were simple acts of kindness that reached beyond a teachers assumed role. They all experienced teachers that were there for their students not for a supposedly ‘easy’ job. It was the teachers that went above and beyond for their students: bringing homework and soup to a sick fourth grader, taking the time to explain to a young girl that she isn’t her brother—that she is her own person, or

More interesting is the varying ages these people go back to. Julie remembers her fourth grade teacher while Randi and Kaitlin were impacted by their high school teachers more.

Regardless of when, each of them were impacted by the personal interest given to them by these teachers. This is what stood out the most to me.

Through these short interviews, I learned that being a teacher that makes a lasting impression on a student comes from a personal connection. An ally is someone who went out of their way to help their students, depending on their personal needs. These teachers were able to tell these former students exactly what they needed to hear at the time and this is what made such a lasting impact for them. This has helped me to narrow my definition of what an ally is further.

It is my goal to live up to teachers like the ones described by these individuals and the one from my own personal experiences. Hopefully one day, I will have a student remembering a moment with me, a wistful smile on their faces. That is all that I can dream of for myself as a future teacher.


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