Last fall at the Western Mass. Writing Project's Best Practices conference at UMass Amherst, I delivered the keynote speech over lunch. You can find it here:
I wanted to give a quick update on the very special student I spoke of in this keynote. Today, I was at the high school for a meeting, and afterwards I saw her in the hallway. I called out her name and she came over to me and hugged me. She looked confident, happy, and gorgeous. She arrived in this country almost exactly 3 years ago, and you would barely know it by her English now. She speaks as if she's been here more like 10 years.
She reminded me that she is now a Junior and only had one year left. Then what she said touched me: "I always remember what you said to me in 8th grade. You said, 'I will be there in 4 years to watch you graduate.' I never forgot that." And I told her that I was still planning on it.
It goes to show you, you never know which words that you say to your students are the ones that will have the largest impact. Sometimes we feel like what we say falls on deaf ears, and maybe sometimes it does - but some student somewhere remembers something that you said to him or her.