I got home from the a night with the Manchild just a bit ago. My legs are still recovering from the long ride over the weekend, so I skipped the stairs workout and came home. I got the garbage out, the garden watered and I was sitting here debating: Do I go to bed, do a post, or watch Dexter on Netflix.
While doing this, I was scanning Facebook and came across this post from Sarah, the daughter of two of my best friends, and a young woman who is about to do her student teaching:
I really do not like it when people think being a teacher is an ‘easy’ job. We do not play and color pictures all day like people think. We are basically in charge of the future because we are teaching children, who will in fact be in charge of our future. I know that I am not a certified teacher yet, but I am studying to become a teacher. I teach because I want to make a difference. I teach because what I do every day matters for kids. To me, that’s what success looks like. Doing what you love and helping make a difference in this world. Please think twice before you say teaching is an ‘easy’ job and that anyone can do it. Because really it is not.
It started me thinking about the single teacher who had the most lasting effect on my life.
Now you may think it was someone in High School or maybe even college. But you’d be mistaken. For me, hands down, the teacher who sent me down the track of life that lead to success in both high school and college, was my 6th grade teacher Cora Wiggins.
My dad was in the army, and we were stationed in Germany. I was attending the American school over there. This woman was the biggest, meanest and scariest teacher I had ever had. I swear, while sitting at her desk, she could swing a yard stick, and swat a kid in the rear with it no matter where he or she was in room.
I remember the first time (and yep there were plenty) it happened to me. A friend said “Go home and tell your dad! He sue her!!” Being gullible, I did. The kid was right, Dad got mad! Ok partially right, he was mad alright, mad at me. “Boy, you might want to reconsider ever telling me again if she does that again, because I may just borrow the yard stick and swat you one myself to help her out….” (My dad loved my 6th grade teacher!)
She also was not afraid to grab us by the ear, or the short hairs and “guide us” to wherever we should be to get things done. (and HELL no I did NOT tell Mom or Dad about that!)
What did this do? It helped teach me respect for teachers and adults in general. I was always a polite kid, and I really don’t ever remember mouthing off to a teacher prior to her. But after her, hell even as a smartassed teen in high school, I still kept my peace. I was afraid of the stick!
But this was only a small part of what she did to mould me. Underneath the gruff, scary existence, was a very good and very caring educator. She took me under her wing (when it didn’t have the yard stick) when it came to math. I blazed through the 6th grade book in less than a semester. Which meant during math I was bored (hence the yardstick and ear pulling)
She reached out to my parents and convinced them that I should attend a 7th grade math class at the Junior High down the street an hour a day. Which they agreed to (though I never did hear whether it took some convincing or not)
Why was this a big deal? Well honestly, up and until then, I don’t remember being much of a student. Under her instruction, I started feeling like one of the “smart kids.” My success in math, made me want to succeed in all classes and I did! (Well except for shop, I sucked in shop). Her pushing me and going the extra mile for an 11 year old, rippled throughout the next 39 years of my life. She made a big difference in my life.
I don’t know if she is still with us, to an 11 year old, she seemed old (SCARY, but old) and I never saw her again after I left Germany, but I owe her a huge thanks for helping me become who I am now.
I know people think teachers have it easy. They get summer and christmas off, vacations during the year etc. But damn people, catch a clue. Especially elementary teachers are riding herd all day on 20 – 3o kids. Dealing with emotions, learning disorders, bullying, family issues, mean girls, disrespectful boys (and vice versa) ALL while trying to get them to want to learn. That’s the key, anyone can tell someone what to do, but to make people want to learn will make them successful for the rest of their lives.
Teaching is a skill and an art. (I do it at a corporate level, and I am good, but I would SUCKASS as a grade school teacher). It takes a special calling to want to do it, and stamina beyond belief to stick with it after you start. Sarah is one of those who has both and will be amazing. If I had kids young enough, I would lobby hard for her to be their teacher.
I also predict, 40 years from now, some guy who is close to farting dust, will look back and say, “Wow I owe Ms L so much!” Just like I do Cora Wiggins!
Stick to your guns kid you will be fantastic!