A Note from Bryn Lynch
I have been teaching high school French and Spanish at a public school in Michigan for the past 15 years. But even before earning my teaching degree, I was involved in education. Originally, I earned my teaching degree to start a second career, but watching my students become excited about learning a new means of communication makes what I do worth all of the hard work. I love listening to my students “play” with languages because even when they are way off base, they are trying to work through structures and new thought processes and it is exciting to watch them undo the puzzles of learning a second language. More importantly, I have learned that as a teacher I get to help my students in a unique way.
I love for students to realize that my classroom is a haven where they are safe to talk about issues that are troubling them. I see myself not only as a world language teacher, but also as an adult that students can talk to and, even more importantly, for whom I can be a role model. The work gets done, but in the process of working with others, students have the chance to foster friendships that they might not normally make. Socialization, working with people outside of your core group of friends, and learning about and accepting people who think differently than you, are integral parts of being in a school environment, but more importantly are essential life skills.
Students of all ages need the chance to relate to adults outside of their families. At the high school level we don’t regularly get the feedback from parents that teachers at the lower level might receive. Often, I have more daily contact with high school students than many parents, so when I hear from students that have graduated I realize that the connections I make and have made with my students are important.
For example, I ran into a student who graduated nine or so years ago and she mentioned that she and another one of my former students talk about me on occasion. Another student, who graduated two years ago, sent me a text to say she was writing about me in her Spanish college class; and yet another sent a Facebook message to say that she had a song stuck in her head…in Spanish! I love hearing from students who have graduated, to know what they’re doing, and to know where life has taken them.
When it comes to education, work hard, play hard, look at others through a different lens, and create a mini “family” for the length of time that the class lasts. A school is a learning environment on so many levels that it is often difficult to make a distinction between all of the different types of learning that happens on a daily basis. Look at each day as a continuation of the last, and as a day to learn more, build on past knowledge, deepen friendships, and develop ways to work with others. These are life skills.
I personally do not remember how I learned to conjugate verbs or do certain math problems, but I remember the teachers I had, their personality, and some of their quirks – the qualities that make them human. We never stop learning, nor should we. Even when you are no longer in a formal classroom setting take the skills you learn in school and apply them to other life situations; be a lifelong student!