|Rob Conferring with Students|
Last night I opened an email from one of Rob's former students. He wrote,
Mr. Cohen is the greatest teacher I have ever had, and probably will ever have. He opened up my mind not only to literature, but also to so many other facets of life and academia. I truly view him as one of the most influential mentors in my life, and I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to correspond with one another throughout my high school years. Reading what you wrote about him thinking so fondly of me really has touched me.
Rob taught this student 5 years ago. As he did with so many students, Rob kept in touch with his former students, mostly through email and texting, but also with some in person. One of the jokes in our family was that we could never eat out without running into one of Rob's current or former students. Even when we were in a hotel in San Francisco one year, we were not too surprised to hear, "Mr. Cohen!" being yelled across a lobby. Rob had that effect on others.
Last week another former student came to visit Rob. He was sleeping when she arrived and she sat and talked with him for close to an hour.
These students' words and actions have me thinking how Rob will live on in the many ways he has influenced others. It reminds me that the influence of teachers is formidable, beautiful, necessary. It reminds me that the matrices to gauge teacher effectiveness represent a low bar. Better we ask what influence on students' lives has the teacher had than what score on a single measure. The single measure rarely matters. The influence almost always does.