One of my favorite things is when former students come back to see me. I love when they come and find me during their inside recess, or come to ask me questions when they are working on a project. I even like it when they stop me for a 30 second conversation in the hall.
Most of the students I've taught are still at the same school with me, so I get the luxury of seeing some of them frequently. A girl I taught last year, whom I absolutely adore, stopped by during my planning period. She needed some help making a video for her math class. I took 20 minutes out of my day and had a blast filming a fraction commercial with her. It was an unexpected surprise that totally made my day.
In my short time as a teacher, I seldom find that students come back to me because they are excited about the things I taught them. In fact, I've never had a student come back and tell me "Hey Mr. Stortz, thanks for showing me how adverbial phrases relate to dependent clauses!" Most are rarely impressed at my knowledge of books, or my abilities with a computer. Many do not remember the famous quotes I recite or the lessons I lay out. They don't remember my disheveled desk, or that my lesson plans are not impeccable.
What they do remember is the way that I treated them. The more I teach, the more I am convinced that the most valuable gift I can give to my students is not an education. It is not motivation, success, or even inspiration. The most valuable gift I can give to them is love and acceptance as a human being.
I like to think that my students come back because they know that I love and accept them as people. Learning flourishes in the context of love and acceptance. As soon as I stop loving, I stop teaching.
I hope they never stop coming back.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.