All my life I wanted to be a teacher. Really, all my life. For as long as I can remember, I read my books to my "students" who looked amazingly like my stuffed animals and my poor cat. I got my best gift when I was about 4. It was a blackboard. I spent hours giving math problems to my students. My older sister got into the act, "allowing" me to use her homework as my assignments. So I did her homework with my class and she copied the answers off the board and got the credit for doing homework. We were both happy.
My first real experience with school was nursery school. No preschool then. Just a cooperative nursery school in the local church. Each day we would play and build and run and laugh and sing songs. And once a day, Miss Helen took me into a back room to read with her. Apparently I was the only child in the class who could read. I thank my sister who let me do her homework. I loved nursery school and really looked forward to heading off to kindergarten.
Kindergarten lasted for about one month. During that time, the school psychologist (he was a huge man who just walked in one day and told me to come with him to his office to talk) tested me, found out I had a high IQ and decided I needed more than kindergarten. They wanted to move me, a 5 year old, into second grade. My parents said no only because my sister was in second grade and they didn't think we should be in the same grade. So off to first grade I went.
My first grade teacher, Mrs. O, was near retirement age when she got me pushed into her room. She made it very clear from the start that she did not think I belonged in first grade. Whenever I did something "kindergartenish" the kids would laugh at me. Her response, "Remember, she's just a baby." That title lasted with me throughout my whole 12 years of schooling. She also allowed the kids to roll their eyes when I was the only one who knew the answer. It was not cool to be smart. I hated first grade.
Second grade, Miss P. She was beautiful...a true flower child. I remember absolutely nothing I learned but that The Partridge Family was THE show to watch and David Cassidy was a dream. I loved second grade.
Third grade....nothing. I remember nothing. Not my teacher, not my classmates, not any curriculum. Must have been a hell of a year.
Fourth grade I had Miss B. She was strict. She did things that when I look back on them were horrific. She told poor Ross that if he could not sit in his seat, she would tie him into it. He couldn't. She did. We all laughed, including Ross. But it must have been humiliating. Just as humiliating as it was for me to have my desk dumped out on a weekly basis because I couldn't keep it clean. But I do remember her reading aloud to us each day. She'd sit in her big rocking chair, we'd sit on the floor around her and she'd open up our world to Peter and Fudge.
Fifth grade was the last grade I had a teacher I remember. Mr. C. was my first male teacher. He told my mom at the beginning of the year that he knew I knew all the curriculum so it was fine with him if I sat in back and read all day. I was thrilled. But, thinking back on it, that was a disgrace. And it certainly isolated me even more from my classmates.
Junior High was torture. I was bullied daily, started meeting with the guidance counselor, and got into things no junior high student should get into. The funny thing is, I still wanted to be a teacher. But at this point, I had no idea why.
High school was another nightmare. I did my best to disappear. I got Cs in most of my classes, making sure people forgot I was the smart one from elementary school. I barely graduated. But I did. And moved on to college where I got my education degree.
I haven't regretted a single moment of that decision. I love teaching. I make sure that my brightest students get the enrichment and challenges they need to be engaged in school. I make sure that teasing and bullying are completely unacceptable and not allowed in my classroom among my students. I make sure that my hyperactive students can stand up if they want to without being laughed at or tied into their seats. And I make sure that I read books that open the world for my students. I love teaching. I didn't have any good role models but I sure had some bad ones to help me figure out what not to do. I love teaching and can't imagine doing anything else.
Why did you become a teacher?
Image: 'blackboard easel'
Image: 'The Partridge Family Shopping Bag'
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