This article is based on the AskReddit question “Teachers, have you ever looked up social media of past students? What’s your best success story?”
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
1. The student that got his life together
One of my students was the typical stoner. Extremely smart, easily one of my top students. He just couldn’t be asked to care.
I pushed him in my class and he pulled an A. Apparently one of his first. He graduates and the other teachers assume that he’ll be getting a dead end job in no time.
Fast forward 2 years later I find out that he’s a sales exec with a massive German shipping company on the fast track to management. He has a ridiculously hot Brazilian girlfriend, and seems like he got his things together.
I’m happy for him.
2. Oopsies! busted!
My media law and ethics professor liked a 95 week old post on my Instagram. I only noticed because I was on the app and tapped the notification as soon as I saw it. He unliked’ it almost immediately.
Two weeks later in class we were covering social media ethics and in his lecture made a comment about looking us up online, then said he was joking, he hadn’t done it. But I saw that like.
3. A real life situation
My teacher told us a story from when he was at another school. He was supposed to do an IT class, and he looked up all the students’ names in advance and memorized them. You can imagine the shock on the students’ faces. He then proceeded to data fish them by creating a fake google login page on his own website. Of course he didn’t do any harm, he just sent an email back containing their passwords.
Their reaction was “Well that was a good lesson, but we wouldn’t fall for this in a real life situation” to which he replied
“If you didn’t notice it already this was a real life situation.
4. From nothing to something
I knew a kid in high school who was doing some pretty awful things, would go around smashing windows, throwing rocks at cars for fun, etc. Later on, he had a really bad drug habit and got arrested for telling the cops he was robbed at gunpoint for money but it turns out he was lying.
Recently saw an article in a finance website that quoted some of his investing tactics. Looked him up on Facebook and he’s a very, very wealthy stock broker or something in NYC.
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I was looking up some of my former students yesterday. My first group is going into high school next year. I had them in 2nd grade. I was hoping to see some pics of their 8th grade graduation so I could be proud, but I just see a lot of pics of middle fingers and saying how much they hate school
I guess I should wait a few years until my sweet 2nd graders get through the edgy preteen/young teen phase.
6. Duets in concerts
I’m following 2 piano majors – both wonderful students – who are now playing duets in concerts on a regular basis.
Not only that, but just as I suspected would happen, they’ve announced their engagement and will marry in September. They’re an attractive couple and well-liked – it’ll be fun to see how their careers develop.
7. A mix of events
I spent 11 years teaching in a very impoverished, rural area. Many of the kids came from homes with a family member incarcerated or spending time in rehab. Many had parents on disability or working multiple jobs. I had kids (this was elementary school) bring marijuana or knives to school. My first year there was the county’s attempt to turn the school around. Previously, many of the teachers just let the kids do whatever they wanted. Coming into that was rough, but I am proud to say I feel like my colleagues and I made a real impact over the years. I have had several students go on to college and get great jobs or go to vocational school to get an excellent job in that field. I have run into students around town doing steady retail or blue collar jobs, making a good living, very happy, and I am so proud. On the other hand, I have also had many students get pregnant before graduating high school (and never finish). They are on welfare. Others have fallen into dealing drugs (or so I have heard). One made the news for getting into an altercation with a rival gang member. They shot at each other. Neither was hurt badly, but my former student was arrested. So, it’s been a mixed bag.
8. Success after success!
I was a teaching assistant for an introductory engineering class and also a physics class. I kept in tabs on some of my former students on social media and several of them have gone on to earn graduate degrees from big-name engineering schools (like UC Berkeley) and many of them recently graduated from medical school (physics is a prerequisite for the MCAT.)
It’s pleasing to see.
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9. A proud teacher
I taught at Nasa for a few weeks during my teacher training. One of the students became part of a team that builds robots for Mars. One of the students got sent to space for a year while his twin stayed home.
I taught a year in college. One of my students is part of the White House Staff. I have a student working for the FBI for cyber security. Veterinarian, Undertaker, Manager, Engineer, etc.
I am proud of all my students.
10. Walking on his own
I’m a teaching instructor for a self-contained SID elementary classroom. I’ve been working here for a few years and one of my first students came back in with his mother and he was walking! I know it’s not as impressive as other stories but it was so exciting to see him walking on his own!
11. He has done well for himself
I had a kid called Michael. I once asked him what sport it was that he applied himself to to be so fit (kid was ripped), he replied “running from the cops.” He also told me his family was proud generational welfare recipients and he hoped to do the same.
Last I saw he was alive, not in jail and on welfare.
If one of my former students were to cure cancer, they would still not be as successful as Michael.
As an interventionist, I used to teach 9th grade students who were considered “at-risk.” According to the school administration… they would probably never get to cross the graduation stage.
Four years later: I follow some of them on Instagram and they all look wonderful in their senior (cap and gown) pictures. In a few short weeks they’ll be attending prom and then it’s time to count down until graduation day. One even bought his first very own car already!
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13. The one student who spoke up
During my first year teaching 7/8 graders, I had an Indian student who was smart, but quiet. I told her parents that I’d like her to talk up more. The father leaned across the table and told me not to get involved with such things.
Now, fifteen years later, she is a doctor at a prestigious hospital. I’ll bet she learned to speak up very quickly.
14. Wondering about some students
I haven’t been teaching long enough to see them as adults though I often wonder how some of them will turn out.
I had one kid who used to not talk to anybody. He would whisper to himself about how he is going to kill his parents when he is older.
Then I had another one who was absolutely brilliant! Absolute prodigy! But his parents refused to let him touch a science book. It was Adam and eve for him. They also forced him to study more bible and less maths even though he could do math problems 5 grades above his level. I couldn’t tamper with their religious ideologies in my position, but I sure as hell taught as much maths as I could.
Those two I wonder about the most.
15. The success and failure of students through the years
Some have done pretty good. Some have gone to jail. One is dead. Most are doing somewhere between “Not dead” and “Terrific”. One interesting trend I noticed was all the ones that went Navy are doing really well for themselves. One just bought his first house and we’ve been meaning to grab a beer to catch up. Another is in medical school now and spends his free time traveling when he can. The others are keeping a pretty good cap on things and seem to be doing well. However, the ones that went army seem to be struggling. One is working at one of those uniform service companies. Another seems to bounce between different lifestyles ranging from “I’m a raver!” to “I’m broke”. A third just got arrested at a concert or something? Two former students are stripping. At least a couple are working for different MLM schemes. Several have various criminal records ranging from vandalism and shoplifting.
I think the best success stories are the two Navy ones and one that graduated college 2 years ago and just got an apartment with her fiance in my home town. I also talk to her parents from time to time and it sounds like she’s really got a good life ahead of her. I look forward to seeing her family grow.
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16. Going to college
I have a couple of girls I taught who came from immigrant families (the girls were both born in the U.S.) who are both starting their Master’s programs this fall.
One boy I taught has his own video production company; I think he’s about 23 or 24 now, and he seems to do good business and get paid jobs.
I was in a rough inner-city charter school for most of my time teaching, so the success stories are a little harder to come by. I have more former students who had kids by the time they hit 18 than who went to college.
I spent my last year teaching at a rural traditional school, and some of those kids are entering their senior year of college this year. I don’t see as much from them, but I was only at that school for a year.
17. The one who got the highest GED scores
I tutored a girl who was just awful. She was 18, dropped out of high school, dating a much older man, and was constantly on her phone while I’ll was trying to explain stuff. We were prepping for her GED test.
She never let me know how the test went. On a whim, I looked her up on MySpace. Part of her profile said “got my GED and they said I had one of the highest scores they ever seen.”
A lot of people would be snickering at that, but working with her changed my perspective. She was a girl who had been through the foster care system trying to make the best of things. She had mentioned that people talked down to her for as long as she could remember. But she had this to be proud of, and I’m glad I got to help even if she was pretty insufferable the entire time. I wonder how she’s doing now.
18. This fathers former students
My dad taught high school (mostly English and history) for over 30 years.
One of his former students is actually my immediate superior at work. If he has any clue about this, he’s never let on, but my dad asks about him from time to time.
Another became a big-name fashion designer that was mainly famous for large, controversial billboard featuring scantily clad models. It was hard to tell what was being advertised.
By far the best, though, was after leaving a restaurant that happened to be located next door to a strip club, he insisted that one of the strippers smoking outside was a former student. I called his bluff, and, as we walked away, he shouted “hey [girl’s name]!” Of the several girls outside, she was the only one that reacted.
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19. The most rewarding and heartbreaking job
My teaching career is pretty varied. One school was a private school, the other was rural first nation school. Once they turn 18 and are graduated, if they add me, I’ll add them. I like to show you can transition from a professional relationship to a casual one appropriately. As long as I generally trust the student.
So success is measured very differently. The private school ensured every girl graduated and went to university, so some are doctors, excellent research scientists, or on their way in business and law. These amazing successes are expected.
At the first nation school, we just had two of our grads go to college for cooking and mechanic tech. This is a huge success in the eyes of the school and community.
Both have students who are struggling, whether it’s too much partying and enabling from parents to parents who are struggling with addiction which in turn leads the youth to addiction. It plays out, and it’s hard to watch as a teacher.
I love every student I have/had, they all deserve a healthy life with purpose. This job is the most rewarding yet heartbreaking position.
And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
20. The teacher that made an impact on a students life
I taught GED classes for a while. The kids were 16-21 and mostly referred by the courts and this was the last step before going to prison or juvie or something. Some were referred by social services or the Social Security or welfare office. These kids had everything against them and usually the best you could hope for was for them to show up and do a little work. It was a sad group of kids. Pretty dismal.
There is one young woman (now late 20’s) who just kind of got her stuff together, stopped hanging around people who brought her down, and really is doing well as a functioning member of society. It sounds like easy stuff that makes sense but that really took her leaving where she lived and all her friends and starting anew. That is pretty darned difficult for anyone to do.
I remember she bounced in and out of my class for a year and a half and when I finally strong-armed her into taking the GED exam, she was surprised at how easy it was. She was a smart kid but never believed in herself. For reference, a passing score on the GED is normed at 40th percentile for graduating seniors. That means 40% of graduating high school seniors probably could not pass it. It isn’t a super easy exam, but it isn’t impossible for most people.
She wrote me this last year: “Through my whole life you’re the only teacher I have kept in touch with and can really say you have made an impact on my life.” That’s the stuff that sticks with you.