Today in my Reading Institute, I just happened to find myself sitting across the table from the sister of one of my former students. He's getting ready to attend the eighth grade, and his sister is starting her first year back teaching after a year off for maternity leave, so there's quite a big gap between them, but there I was, spending the day with Nestor's big sister.
"You remember Nestor, right?" she asked.
I tried to get a face from the past, but came up with a jumble of possibilities.
"He used to cry a lot."
Bingo. Now I knew exactly who her little brother was. This was a kid who spent half of the fourth grade in the hallway, too shy to come in the door. And the tears. Nestor would cry if you looked at him sideways, and there was a lot of that at my school. Somehow we made it through the year, and I remember that he even walked into class on his own for the last few months without his mother.
"You know, he wanted you to move up to fifth grade and be his teacher the next year too," his sister told me later in the day.
I didn't know that. Now that I'm getting ready to turn my teaching clock back a few years and return to the computer lab, that kind of information is a pleasant reminder of how things used to be. And maybe they will be again. Only without quite so much crying.