What Everyone Should Know About Teachers

   Before – This is what my classroom looked like at the end of summer vacation 2010, a week before the start of a new school year.

 

Quick.  Name five things you think teachers do during a typical school day.

What did you come up with? Depending on your past experiences, your list might look something like this:

“Correct papers,” “yell,” “staple,” “organize,” “erase.”

But in my twelve years’ experience, I’d add these verbs to the list: 

Dare.

Give.

Listen.

Model.

Nurture.

You can read my personal essay/list “The A to Z List of Verbs Teachers and Students Practice Daily” by clicking here and being re-directed to iTeach literary magazine.

 

After – The finished result: an organized, colorful, inviting (I hope) classroom. All it needs now are students!

A Tribute to Teachers

 

Though I left my teaching career five years ago, there are still many aspects of teaching I really miss.  There’s a special sort of magic that happens when you connect with a child, and that’s why I still enjoy reading about teachers who love teaching.

Recently I read Phillip Done’s memoir Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind – Thoughts on Teacherhood, and I’d like to share with you some of the passages that stood out for me.

“What exactly is a teacher anyway?  A lot of different things.  Teachers are like puppeteers.  We keep the show in motion.  When we help children discover abilities that they don’t know they have, we are like talent scouts.  When we herd kids off the play structure at the end of recess, we are like shepherds.  Teachers are like farmers.  We sow the seeds – not too close together or they’ll talk too much.  We check on them every day and monitor their progress.  We think about our crop all the time.  When we see growth – we get excited.”

“Teachers are word warriors.  All day long we explain, correct, examine, define, recite, check, decipher, sound out, spell, clap, sing, clarify, write, and act out words.  We teach spelling words and history words and science words and geography words.  We teach describing words and compound words.  We teach synonyms and antonyms and homonyms, too.”

“Teachers try everything short of back handsprings to get their students to quiet down and pay attention.  We flick off the lights, clap patterns, hold up fingers and wait, change the level of our voices, count up to three, count down from five, set timers, brush wind chimes, shake shakers, bribe kids with free play, and seat the boys next to the girls.”

“I was in Teacher Mode.  It turns on automatically whenever children are near and goes into overdrive when it senses busy streets, mud, gum, or bloody noses.”

“Of course nothing has changed like technology.  A bug was something you brought in from recess to show the teacher.  A desktop was something you scraped dried Elmer’s glue off with your teacher scissors.  Hard drives were on Monday mornings.  Viruses kept you home from school.  And cursors were sent to the principal’s office.”

Now it’s your turn, dear readers.  Feel free to share any school memories or teacher anecdotes of your own in the comments section below.

5th Grade – The Home Stretch

My 5th Grade School Picture

My son is a fifth grader. 

School started yesterday, which means this will be Ryan’s last year at his elementary school and then it’s off to middle-school.

But I don’t want to rush ahead.  We have 180 days of fifth grade to experience first.  And like in years past, I’d like to share with you memories of my own fifth grade year.  (To remind you, you can click here to read about my fourth grade experiences and click here to read about my life in third grade).

I had the same teacher for fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.  Ryan has had a new teacher each year.  My elementary school went up to sixth grade, so unlike Ryan, at this stage I wasn’t yet looking ahead to middle school.

And though I was in fifth grade back in the 1980s, one thing remains the same.  All fifth graders are still required to complete the fifth grade physical education fitness test.

Unlike Ryan’s school, my elementary school didn’t have a physical education teacher.  When I was in elementary school, our classroom teachers took their classes out for P.E. once in a while, usually on Fridays, and usually as a reward for good behavior.  We didn’t train and practice for this physical fitness test.

Luckily, Ryan’s school has a group of physical education coaches.  They have been training for this test since kindergarten, slowly building up the endurance needed to run a mile.

And when it comes time for this test, I’ll give Ryan the same words of encouragement I always give him for any test: Do your best. 

Because really, no matter what grade you’re in, no matter what you’re being tested on, that’s the only thing you can do.

The Lost Art of Cursive Writing

My son has about a month-and-a-half left of fourth grade.  So if it hasn’t happened by now, I doubt it will happen at all.

And by “it,” I mean learning to write in cursive.

When I taught fourth grade, my students had already learned the basics of cursive the year before in third grade.  We continued to practice, because practice makes better, and I did require some of their assignments to be completed in cursive writing.

Last year, my son didn’t learn cursive writing in third grade.  So during last year’s summer vacation, I spent time with my son, teaching him how to write his first name in cursive.  He writes it beautifully. 

But we still have the rest of his name to learn, the rest of the alphabet to practice.  That will happen during this year’s summer vacation.

Click here to read an essay I wrote several years ago for MomsLA.com titled “The Value of Teaching Cursive.”