My daughter came home yesterday with a lovely bouquet of flowers for me… I was delighted of course, who doesn’t love an unexpected gesture of something good? But I was surprised to hear that they were not from her. They were from a placement student who works with her who asked her to pass them on to me with a message. He wanted to tell me that he was so grateful for my helping him to get through his course when he really didn’t think he could. That he was grateful for me having faith in him when he’d only ever been told he was not good enough to achieve anything. Finally he wanted to thank me for helping him get a summer job (through obvious contacts) which he is really enjoying and which is helping him to keep off benefits and provide for himself as a young guy who was forced to leave home due to ‘circumstances’.

I spoke to the guy who employed him at my recommendation, even though he still had to put his application together and get himself through the interview like anyone else. I knew this lad had potential, I could sense it and I was delighted to hear that he has taken to a very unfamiliar role like a duck to water, that he has shown maturity, willing, dedication and has become almost immediately a very much valued and liked member of the team. I heaved a sigh of relief when I heard he was punctual and reliable and very flexible and that he had worked through a couple of very difficult days without complaint and more so when I heard that his customer service and communication skills are top notch. This is a lad who has only ever been told he’ll never become anything and is a waste of space… delightful how we treat our young people isn’t it? I had offered the jobs out to all of the class but knew that he was perhaps most in need and wasn’t surprised when he jumped at the chance. One of those teacher’s tactics of making something look as if it is not contrived.

So the reward wasn’t the flowers, it wasn’t even that I had helped him, it was knowing that he was doing better than he had been before I taught him, knowing I’d made a difference and changed a life, knowing that he had developed this past year and matured into someone who could recognise and accept constructive advice and be gracious enough to be thankful for it and even more that that, the greatest reward was knowing he now has someone else who believes in him and even more, that he believes in himself. It’s a reward just to have confidence that he is on a better path with faith that he will stay on it.

Besides that there are other benefits, knowing that he and I with my recommendation have presented the college in a good light, knowing that another employer out there now sees the college as turning out good, employable, reliable youngsters and knowing that he will go there again when looking for staff, that is a fantastic reputation booster and these things are important when there is so much negative media about young people and the whole FE college system.

He’s not the only one I’ve had a success story with by far, but I thought he deserved a mention as he highlighted a point. The many and varied rewards of teaching do not always come from teaching a good lesson or being an expert in your subject, they can come from the other elements of teaching which are often unnoticed and which are not part of any statistic. The greatest reward is without doubt just knowing that you effected a change for the better in someone’s life somehow.


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