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Once a teacher, always a teacher

favicon I’m not teaching this year. And I have many different thoughts about that.

But just because I’m not teaching doesn’t mean that I’m not a teacher.

The evidence so far suggests that I’ll have plenty of opportunities to work with students at my new job. But this post is about my former students, the ones who have graduated. It turns out that the years after graduating from high school — particularly if you’re the first in your family to go to college — are important and scary and deserving of support.

That’s where the always-a-teacher thing comes in.

Over the past week, more than 10 of my former students have reached out to me for guidance. Yes, things usually start on text. Here are a few examples:

  • One student has found City College too massive and has enrolled at Heald College in a medical assisting program. Now she needs a new letter of recommendation to apply for scholarships to decrease the enormous amount she owes.
  • Another student has enrolled at Skyline College but doesn’t have a car to commute from San Francisco. He wanted help on the best way to navigate to the school using public transportation.
  • One student finds herself enjoying her prestigious college on the East Coast, but she misses her family, friends, and boyfriend. She needed some kind words.
  • Another student is surprised that she already has an essay due next week. “What’s standard college MLA format?” she asks, perhaps thinking that the MLA format we taught her was somehow the “high school” version. “The same one you already know,” I texted back.
  • And more: Math help for a placement test (“the test was hard!”), a reference call (“I got the job!”), an FBI clearance (“they’ll come to your house”).

I find these interactions incredibly rewarding and important. After all, the years after high school are critical. Too many students, especially those slogging through two-year colleges while working part- or full-time, get frustrated and give up.

I’m hopeful that my students continue to feel comfortable asking me for help. It’s fun. And it gives me hope that all the work we’ve put in over the past four years has been worth it. favicon


  1. John at TestSoup

    This is the kind of mentoring that all teachers should strive to do. It’s not that every teacher should be close enough to every student so that they can text them questions outside of school (and even after graduation). But every student should have at least one teacher willing to do this for them.

    • Mark Isero

      You nailed it, John. All students (and their families) should have one adult that knows them well and advocates for their academic and personal success. It’s the only way to make sure that students don’t fall through the cracks and that we deal with the huge inequities in our educational system.

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