I occasionally think back as my days of a teacher. I remembered how much I hated lesson planning. The frequency of me tripping over my own words because I was nervous or not ready for class. The pains of grading homework, quizzes and exams. The role of “mean Mr. Pham” that I had to play to ensure I get, kept and ensure the respect from my kids. I don’t miss those things one bit.
However, I do miss the kids. How eager they were to learn. The jokes that we would share in class. The respect that I did get from the kids that they didn’t hesitate to approach me for help. The games that we played in class to make sure everyone was paying attention and still awake. The laughter at my own expense of how I can’t speak or constantly repeating certain phrases, and such. The laid back approach where the kids knew that the sooner they finished their work and do it properly, the sooner they could chill with one of their favorite and coolest teacher. And the best of all, is seeing how the kids have grown throughout the semester and year, as they learn and even shocked me, the teacher, at all they have come to learn.
One year later, I am back sitting at the Common Cup on a Sunday, but this time I’m not writing my application for the Heart of the School Award. Though my teaching days are over, I’m still reeping the rewards of a teacher. This week, I had lunch with one of my old students who is now a freshman in college. He shared his struggles of college but also his triumphs of learning. I heard from another that she and one of my other kids was appointed president and vice-president of the tech club that I started. Finally, today at mass, I saw two Quigley boys still prayerfully attending and participating; just like all Quigley boys should. I just can’t help but smile. As much as I miss my kids, they sure make me proud.