In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Edmodo employees are sharing personal stories of teachers from their past—stories to show you that everything you do leaves a lasting impression years (sometimes decades) later.
There are a few people in life that help shape your future. And sometimes it takes a key question in life to reflect on who those people were. Until I started working at Edmodo on a team of mostly former teachers, I probably would have said my parents mostly helped shape my future; they were the ones helping me get through the difficult teenage years and apply for college. After I started working at Edmodo, it became crystal clear how teachers help their students find their way in life.
For me, it was my high school Electronics teacher, Mr. Jeff Hoeft. While the class was mostly geared toward preparing students to become electricians or electronic technicians, there was one conversation with Mr. Hoeft I’ll never forget. His lesson for the day was trying to get a bunch of know-it-all 15-year olds to understand that after high school, they’d have to go through at least two more years of technical college to do anything in electronics. And that even after that, they’d have to “keep up with new technology” and go through more training after getting a job.
After class, I asked Mr. Hoeft who were the people who were inventing the new technologies that we’d have to keep up with. He said, “Well, those are the engineers.” It was the first time anyone had put that into perspective for me, a kid who wasn’t really listening to a lot adults. But Mr. Hoeft was different. He was engaged in conversations and really, honestly cared about what students said to him. So, I answered quickly, “How do I become one of those?” And so the conversation went on about Math and Science, which he knew I was interested in along with Electronics. I was so taken by this short, but life changing conversation with him. To this day, I still kind of feel like he had planned that day’s lesson just to spark that conversation with me.
With my own children now in elementary school, and with the perspective of moving education forward with technology at Edmodo, my wife and I are grateful that teachers dedicate their lives to teaching children—not only about reading, writing, and other subjects, but also how to think about their future. New parents often feel completely overwhelmed when starting a family, but that goes away after awhile. When the kids start school, there’s another wave of change when it’s someone else’s opportunity to help shape their minds. And, it didn’t really hit home with me until I stepped into my son’s third grade class to help his teacher introduce Chromebooks and online technologies for learning.
While the inspiration for my education and career came later for me, the teachers and staff who dedicate themselves to helping young students learn and grow is found at every level of K-12 education. After my first session helping my son’s teacher for a few hours, all I could say to her was, “How do you do this all day, every day?” She smiled a bit, playfully rolled her eyes and replied, “Well, some days are easier than others—today wasn’t too bad.” I now thank her each time I see her, because she’s inspired me to make technologies better and easier to use so that teachers have the always-needed time to have the conversations with students to spark life’s calling.