Whether you’re going into a new grade, transferring schools, or even just changing classes, it’s easy to lose touch with former teachers. Even if you saw them every school day for an hour for an entire year, teachers can fade out of memory just as quickly as the subject they taught; as someone who can barely remember the names of half of her middle school teachers, I’m speaking from experience. Maybe you weren’t on the friendliest terms with each and every one of them (regardless of how good a student you may or may not have been). Nevertheless, here are some reasons why it can’t hurt to give them an occasional visit, send them an email, or even just stop to speak with them in the hallway.
You Can Ask Them for a Recommendation
This is definitely a more pragmatic reason to give a teacher a visit (and I do advise asking for recommendations in person if at all possible), but if you’re planning on applying to college or for a job, getting recommendations or references can be difficult to get around. The fact of the matter is that people, be they college admissions officers or employers, want to know your personal traits and how well you work, and teachers are some of the best people to ask about that.
Furthermore, communication with teachers, both while you’re in their class and afterward, can be crucial to allowing them to get to know you outside of the academic realm and thus write a more comprehensive letter on your behalf. Teachers are human and thus (probably) lack mind-reading capabilities, so there’s no way they can know you’re a top-notch babysitter, well-trusted by every couple in your neighborhood, unless you take the initiative to converse with them. And even when it comes to academics, letting your pre-calculus teacher know that you’re really enjoying learning how to take derivatives of inverse trigonometric functions in you BC Calculus class and have even considered a major in mathematics can really help your passions shine.
You Can Have a Mentor
This reason is simple, but too often ignored. For high school students, especially, having a trusted adult to talk to about classes, college, and life in general, is extremely important. Plus, even if you didn’t think your English teacher was the greatest at, well, teaching, that doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t have invaluable wisdom to share about creative writing seminars, crafting research papers, the works of Jane Austen, or maintaining friendships throughout and after college. Even for something like choosing a major or what courses to take, teachers can provide advice tempered with experience. However, if the last day of the school year is also the last time you ever talk to your chemistry teacher, the chances of a mentorship developing between the two of you is unlikely.
You Can Make Their Day
As someone who’s taught children in the past and seen them grow up, I can attest to the happiness felt when reunited with an old student. Not only do most teachers enjoy learning about how that kid who sat in the front row right next to their desk ended up, but they also be satisfied that their work made an impact in someone’s life, or even that an individual remembered them fondly enough to stop by or send a message. If you value the time your history spent helping you understand the civil war, it’s good to express that gratitude. It’s rare, at least in high school, that teachers can choose their students or that students can choose their teachers, so if you’re able to build rapport with a teacher, it’s worth the effort to sustain it. Of course, this is not to discount the joy you, yourself, can receive from visiting someone who really made a difference in your education.
One last thing to note, though, is that if you do decide to visit a teacher, make sure to do it during a time when they’re not busy. Walking in on them lecturing and expecting a warm welcome is not the best course of action!