I have to say I have really been enjoying my time catching up with my former students, who now range in age from 22-34 years old. My "Connecting with the Past" blog series started due to my curiosity about these students, and wondering how they "turned out" after leaving my classroom.
In 1996, I was fortunate to be part of my district's multiyear classroom initiative (AKA Looping), which means I taught the same students for two years; from first to second grade. I loved being a looping teacher! Having the same group of students together for two years was an incredible experience! Essentially, we were given the gift of an extra month of school together, as September of 2nd grade became a continuation of 1st grade. There was no "first six weeks" of the new year for getting to know each other and establishing a classroom culture for learning. That had been done in first grade, so we began September right where we left off in June. I knew my students well, and the connections we made through two years together was strong. We were a family.
The students in my first looping class have always held a special place in my heart. They were a special group of kids and I feel we are forever linked by the incredible experience.
|My Looping Class (1995-1997)-Keith is in the back center rockin' the 90s overalls|
Keith is the first student from this class that I have been able to reconnect with, and we recently spent an hour talking and reminiscing about our class. Keith doesn't live locally, and I appreciated the chance to catch up over the phone.
Keith had spent some time preparing for our call, thinking back to his time in first and second grade.
One of the first things Keith shared was a thank you. He had been placed in our district's gifted and talented program starting in third grade, and he shared that this gave him confidence as a student and was the beginning of his journey towards academic success. As an adult he realized that I must have been the teacher to recommend him for this program, and he is grateful for the impact this experience had on his life.
We had fun talking about each student from our class and where they are now. Keith kept in touch with many of his classmates over the years and I enjoyed hearing about his later experiences with them. He is still in touch with a few of them today, and I look forward to catching up with some that I have been able to reconnect with recently.
I remember Keith as a friendly, outgoing, and chatty kid. He got along with everyone and was a great student to have in class. As Keith shared, he probably loved school because it was a social time for him. He remembers that I provided him with a lot of opportunities to talk to the class which not only helped feed his talkative nature, but has made him a confident public speaker to this day.
We laughed about the lice...which wasn't funny at the time. In second grade, we had a lice outbreak in class that lasted for several months. We just couldn't get rid of it! Keith never got it, but does remember having to put his belongings in a trash bag each day and sitting on the tile floor because our class rug had been removed until we were cleared of the critters.
And of course, Keith remembers the Pog craze of the 90s, our class hamster Speedy 🧡 and how exciting it was when the Scholastic Book Fair came to our school, even if he wasn't allowed to buy I Spy books. He also remembers that Officer Buckle and Gloria had just won the Caldecott Award that year (1996) and we read it as part of our study of Caldecott-winning books.
One time Keith called me "mom", as many students did over the years, and was teased for it. What a memory!
|The Boys of Room 23- Keith is second from the left|
We also talked about many of the families of the students in our class, and I mentioned that I felt fortunate to have had so many supportive and involved parents. Many of the moms were able to volunteer in the classroom on a regular basis, which only enhanced our sense of community.
After our phone call Keith sent me a text to say how much he enjoyed talking to me, and also to share how he remembered my voice after all these years. It's always interesting to hear the things that are remembered, and how our senses trigger specific memories. For Keith, it was the sound of my voice. I can only hope it was a good sound for him full of positive memories.