As I was passing a 3rd grade class lined up in the hallway outside the Spanish classroom, I overheard the regular classroom teacher asking the students what the word for “wait” was in Spanish. The students were obviously waiting to enter the Spanish classroom and the teacher was encouraging them to name what they were doing in Spanish. There was hesitation from the students, and as the seconds past, I found myself volunteering the word “esperar,” which I believed was the verb “to wait” in Spanish. Some of the students and the regular classroom teacher thought I might be right and they began to conjugate the word to express themselves in saying “we are waiting” in Spanish. (Later, the regular classroom teacher told me that, after checking with the Spanish teacher, I was correct!)
What was significant to me was not that I had remembered the word for “to wait” in Spanish, but that I realized I had learned that word in 1966 in my high school Spanish class almost 50 years ago. In that singular moment, I found myself remembering what it was like when, as a student, I knew I had learned something, could remember it, and apply it.
To be able to witness a student learning and, more importantly, witnessing that moment when the student recognizes he or she has learned, is what educators live for! Personally experiencing such moments is even more rewarding. And for me, experiencing that sense of knowing I had learned something and remembered it when I am in my sixties is just as magical as it was when I was in grade school.
That singular moment not only reminded me of why I do what I do, but validated what I do! I have and will continue to spend my career experiencing such magical moments. How can it get any better than this?