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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Things that define us.

I'd ask my children about their teachers after their first day of school. What is he/she like? What new rules does he/she want you to know? What does he/she say, do that stand out?

Oh, Mom, you know!

No, tell me, tell me, do you like her/him?

I guess.

You guess? Don't you know right away, after the first few minutes?

Mom, do you want your students to judge you just after a few minutes?

Ah, wise children! 

They must have heard me. Yes, I must have talked about this boy who...;that girl, that administrator, that teacher.  They heard me say over and over again that people are complex being, even as children; that their needs shaped their behavior.

I must have convinced them of the veracity of that observation. In my case, as a teacher and then administrator of middle school and high school students, I saw students became animals or angels right in front of my eyes, at the drop of a pen. And if they were physically harmed, or hungry, or anxious, their whole personality was affected.

"But, but, do you like Mrs...?"

And the answer to that question made all the difference. If a child instinctively accepted the teacher, their journey in that class was easier, saner.

Yes! We are defined first and foremost by our ability to see possibilities of good in front of us. We are, after all, creatures who are constantly amazed at our own abilities to invent, create, love.

Tell me, how did you enjoy your school years?

43 comments:

deb from CT said...

I didn't like my school years so much, not a great student, but loved to write and that's what I've been doing the last 30 years. My son, on the other hand, is a great student and I have to be careful not to turn him off to school the way I was turned off by my parents (achieve, achieve, achieve).

Momcat said...

I was a a c grade student who flew under the radar and preferred it that way. Going through school with my kids was a not a bowl of cherries due in part to the school system put in place and the curriculum. Just recently my eldest son said to me "Mom, Robynne (my daughter) and I both wanted to do homeschooling but only Bradley is doing it. My daughter is homeschooling her brother. She is an excellent teacher and he is becoming a great student.

rosaria said...

DEb from CT--Too much pressure kills the joy of learning, for sure.

Momcat--We can try to do everything ourselves, as in home-schooling. We ask ourselves, what will they miss, what lessons will they not learn because of this?

etoile said...

I partied too much and hardly went to school. I enjoyed my teachers, but mostly because they were all so worried about me. I was a walking contradiction. I graduated with record absences and the highest marks. I thank God every day for blessing me with such a mouldable mind when it comes to learning. Now, I am 23 and an engineer with a bag full of great party memories!

The Cat Photographer said...

I loved going to school. I was always one of those quiet girls, who read a lot.

It is actually thanks to my English teacher that I fell in love with studying - and languages. She was amazing!

It's funny how little things can affect your whole life. When I got older I moved to England in order to learn English better, then after getting enough convidence I was ready to pursuit a career as an air hostess at United Arab Emirates. All thanks to this teacher who provoked my curiosity about other nations, cultures and languages back then!

I am now studying again, and enjoying it. :) Thanks for your lovely blog!

Deborah said...

I loved being in school more than practically anything else! My son, however, would try anything to just stay home with me during his school years. Now I love teachers and teaching practically more than anything else. Many people do not realize the profound importance of education in shaping an individual's life. I believe teachers of all venues have the power to make a real difference in this world. I'm up for the challenge--are you?

Rose Duffy said...

I don't remember too much about my school years except for my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Wolfson. She was also the art teacher for the school and she encouraged me to explore my creative abilities. I have had a 25 year career as an interior decorator and truly appreciate the encouragment I received from Mrs. Wolfson.

rosaria said...

Those of us who were touched by a teacher will remember deeply the effect that person had on us. Thanks for sharing.

ILoveMyDogandMy Music said...

I enjoyed school very much in high school and college. I loved going to classes in college. Listening to the professors, having give and take conversations. But, I hated tests. It always seemed to me that the tests were interrupting my learning process. I would want to go on from one idea or exciting discovery to the next and would always have to stop...make sure I knew all the little things that would be asked on a test so that I could pass. I didn't care for elementary school much. I had some kooky teachers in this small town, This was in the late 40's early 50's and teachers could teach their own agenda and nobody stopped them. My third grade teacher was a nut. Now that I look back she should never have been allowed in the classroom and wouldn't be today.

Noreen said...

Interesting that this post came today. I had a discussion with my high school sophomore daughter yesterday about making up a math test from a sick day last week. I encouraged her to talk to her teacher to get it taken and I couldnt figure out why she was so hesitant. She finally said her teacher is out of touch with his students and she feels strange in his class. She said he puts all of the girls in assigned seats in the front row. All of the boys are in the back.
How, as a parent, do you encourage your daughter to reach out for help from a male teacher that she feels kind of "creeped out" by?
Talk about disrupting the learning process...
I was a B student and flew under the radar, but had a few teachers that made a huge difference. I also had a few that still make me shake my head to this day.
I also wonder what affect the education budget cuts will have on our children.

etoile said...

@ Noreen

That is absolutely HORRIFYING that your daughter's teacher is like that. I hope you confront this situation head-on as there are probably many other parents in that class that would LOVE to know what is going on. It doesn't matter what his motive is, specific gender treatment is unacceptible.

My mom was my teacher; she was pretty influential. haha

rosaria said...

Noreen, go visit with that teacher, and enlighten him. Your daughter will learn that she needs to confront discrimination wherever it appears.

Eva Gallant said...

I loved school and most of my teachers.

Abby said...

I love this post. I remember that when I was assigned my 3rd grade teacher, I was so disappointed because she was rumored to be "mean" by other students. I worried all summer because I was certain that my year was going to be awful. Well, obviously the students who were labeling her were wrong, misinformed, or too quick to judge. She was one of the best teachers I ever had. She introduced me to books that I still love today and inspired her class to learn their times tables by offering them ice cream parties. She even went to Disneyland during the year and brought lollipops back to our entire class. She went on a scuba trip and brought back abalone for us to see and try because we'd read about it in a book. She was strict, yes, but also awesome.

I'm hoping that I can teach my daughter to be open minded about all of the people she meets, teachers included. I'm hoping to teach her that it's best to see people as she would want to be seen... with an open and understanding heart.

Great post. I really love your blog. :)

Jinksy said...

I loved school, but one or two of the teachers managed to fill me with dread! But I survived to tell the tale - and I'm still here to tell the tale...

Hilary said...

I made a point of being part of the parent council in my kids' elementary school. I got to know most of the teachers and admin. quite well. It always helped for placement for the following year. My kids didn't always love who they got, but they were almost always the best one for their needs. At the same time, I learned to have a huge respect for the teaching profession.

Monkey Man said...

School was fun. Much easier than what my children do today.

potsoc said...

Two teachers marked me. One was very strict and demanding. So much so that in order to survive his class I had to develop a studying technique based on observing when he insisted or reread something, what footnotes he mentioned in the text5 books. Thanks to him I became an observer of minute things leading to other more important things. I apssed his exams with flying colors.
The other one, my English teacher, realized that I did not need his elementary English, I was in French school, and instead of boring me to death, over the five years I was in his class opened the field of English litt. to me and another bilingual guy in the class. What a wonderful trip he took us on through Shakespeare, Chaucer, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Conan Doyle and so on.
One opened up new vistas by being so downright closed to anything not his matter, Latin; the other one by allowing me to roam outside his program but within his matter.

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Brian Miller said...

HS was ok...i started to mature by then...we are very involved at our kids school...i volunteer for art class...get to know the teachers etc...

Robyn said...

I was keen to leave my school years behind me... though mostly I was happy to attend.

I studied for a further 6 years beyond school.

So far my son thoroughly enjoys school.

Retired English Teacher said...

I must have loved my school years because at age 65 I am still there. I knew from the first time I walked into kindergarten that I would teach when I grew up. I loved my kindergarten teacher. I loved my first and second grade teacher who was the same woman. I wasn't so fond of my third and fourth grade teachers, but by sixth grade, when I had one of my very favorite teachers, I knew for sure that I would teach someday.

I got married and started having children after my junior year in college. It took me about 25 years to get back to college. I was 50 years old when I did my student teaching. I'm still working and teaching even after retirement. I love school.

wvhiker said...

I had both good and bad teachers throughout my school years. The good ones definitely stick out better than the bad ones. I was a middle student and played the part. You know what they say about hindsight? Yeah, well I still hear some of the advice I was given back then from time to time today.

Forrest said...

Two teachers were outstanding. Miss Brick, 5th grade, El Paso, TX and Mr. Wier, Jr. year high school, Merced, CA. The first taught me to love reading, the second taught me to think.

She Writes said...

I am in school now :). Overall, I appreciate, admire, and enjoy my teachers.

Thank you so much for the note. THANK YOU.

Shadow said...

i didn't. school was not a good place. never seemed to fit in. always something that made me different. and i didn't like that. but i did have teachers i made an effort for. and there were those whom you couldn't please, no matter what.

Lois May said...

I hated my school years. It was not that I didn't like learning, but I came from a very dysfunctional family and I guess kids sensed it and that's why I was bullied. My son starts his first day on Monday. I pray his experience will be totally different!

the walking man said...

Not so much to be honest rosaria.

Arkansas Patti said...

I adored school. The learning and interacting with the kids that weren't annoying siblings. Just wasn't wild about school lunches--never were they good and I can still remember the smell of the cafeteria.
My favorite teachers were the ones who ran a tight ship but made learning interesting. That is a real talent.

Gaston Studio said...

I believe that you instinctively like or, perhaps not trust, a person when you first meet them. And it was that way with me throughout my school years. Two of my high school teachers come to mind immediately; both taught English, and both had great influence on me.

rosaria said...

I became a teacher because of my elementary teachers, one I had for all six grades, and one, Mr. Fioretti, became my private tutor, my English tutor, my "you can do anything" tutor. He was instrumental in my getting to America!

So, I have very soft spots for the teaching profession.
Do I think all teachers were good? No
Do I think we ought to reform the school system?
Yes.
I'm presently on the local school board of directors. I know intimately the complexities of providing a good education in these difficult times.
Let's all agree, though, that without great public schools we cannot have a great country.
We must work hard to make that happen, in each community, across the country.
Every child deserves to be prepared for life.

Pat transplanted to MN said...

I loved school, elementary through High school and beyond. I don't know if it was because I was a very good student or it was the way it was. I still remember some of the teachers and when I get together with childhood friends in PA we talk about those times; we are all 65 and 66 years old! Lifelong impressions. It was a different time, back in the 50's and 60's in PA and our neighborhood school was the hi-lite of our day.

Donna said...

Didn't really like school, Rosaria. My parents were teachers and there was a "top of the class" expectaion fromthe beginning ...my dad's pride. I hated math and a couple of other things and it all did not go well for a while. College was almost easier because I was on my own. Did well there because "I" wanted to!

R.T. said...

Yes. Teachers come and teachers go. But their wisdom remains, whether we hated them or admired :)
Thanks for such a nice Bloggy.

wheatgerm said...

children are wise

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Elementary school and junior high were fine but high school was the pits! I couldn't wait to get out and go to work. It wasn't the school or the teachers fault, it was mine.

Interesting question :-)

~Ron

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becky said...

My fifth grade teacher and two college professors were the few shining examples of teachers who inspired me or saw anything valuable in my performance.

But they were enough :) all I ever needed...

Mary G said...

I mostly liked school and liked (even loved a few) my teachers. There are a couple of exceptions that really remain in my mind, even at four years past sixty-five.
Instant rapport is very useful, I recall from my teaching years. Good point - good post. Thanks for that.

Renee said...

ahhh..yes the school days. I always envied my teachers. It must have been awkward for them to know they were being studied carefully, sized up immediately, and all with the blatent stares that come with youth...Teachers are definately special souls.

Grandmother said...

I liked school but saw it primarily as my social time until I got to college where I saw it as my academic opportunity.

Moannie said...

I attended eleven schools in my nine years of obligatory education, leaving at age thirteen. Had it not been for my own Miss Jean Brodie at the last school I would have left with little or no knowledge of anything more than rudimentary Geography, History and Net Ball.
She gave me my love of English Literature and language. Bless you Miss Hugill.

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