Many years ago, when I was teaching English at a high school in Japan, there was one particular class of students that I really disliked teaching. I really enjoyed most classes at the school, but every time, I went into the room to teach that group, my mood used to fall because I really felt that I wasn’t reaching the students at all.
So every day before I stepped into that classroom, I stopped outside the door and tried really hard to get into a good state so that I could still do a good class for the students. Still, at the end of the year I felt disappointed.
About 8 years later, I was playing guitar with a band in a Irish pub when a young woman walked in. She saw me on stage and I knew immediately from her face that she knew me. I also recognized her, but I couldn’t remember how I knew her.
At the break between sets, she came up and said to me, “Do you remember me, I was in your class 8 years ago?”
At first I didn’t remember, and then it all came flooding back. Oh yes, I remembered that whole class very well, but all for the wrong reasons. “Yes, I remember you and your class. How are you doing now?”
She answered me in excellent English, which is quite unusual in Japan. “I became so interested in English in your class that I continued to study myself, and when I decided to study nursing, I applied to a school in the United States and have studied there for the last year.”
Wow! That was not what I had expected, and I said to her:
“Really, I remember your class, and no-one seemed interested in English. I’m delighted to hear that you became interested.”
She smiled and said, “oh yes, there were a couple of noisy students in that class, but the rest of us could see how hard you were trying, and that was really good.”
I realized that we just never know what the long-term effect of our actions can be, so it is good to always be there for the people that we communicate with.