Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Was That Teacher

I was that teacher.

The one you remember. The one who, when you think back to your favorite years in school, your time with me will always stick out in your head.

I was that teacher.

The one who made learning so fun you didn't know you were learning. The one that taught things far more important than what was mandated by the county.

I was that teacher.

The one who every single day told you you were, in fact, my favorite student and I gave you specific reasons why. It didn't matter that I told everybody else they were my favorites, too, because you knew each student brought unique gifts to my class and I acknowledged and appreciated them.

I was that teacher.

The one that believed in authentic tasks, integration, and embedded differentiation. The one who said "A day without you is like a day without sunshine" whenever you were absent. The one who created positive interdependence in the classroom so you knew your presence was important.

I was that teacher.

The one who sat with two of you in one year while your mothers died, the one who took you both to the school picnic and, for years after, came to your mother/child events as if you were my own.

I was that teacher.

The one that made you giggle about the silly things I said. U is always for underwear and P is for potato chips, I'll give you a magic dot, it's sad that you have no name, our class pet is a tape worm, so and then are no nos and I can not possibly speak to you while I'm wearing my tiara.

I was that teacher.

The one whose worst punishment was to have you stand in the "special spot" by the door jamb because you could still see the cool things that were going on in the classroom but couldn't participate until you were ready to rejoin us. The one that knew the office is the most fun place in the entire building to be and therefore the worst place to send you when you needed some time to collect yourself, and the one that knew that sometimes sending you on an errand that I made up on the spot would allow you the time and space to come back ready to learn.

I was that teacher.

The one who came to your house while you were undergoing chemotherapy so that you didn't have to have a stranger from the county as your tutor.

I was that teacher.

The one that was excited, understanding and inquisitive instead of being angry when you said you couldn't do your homework the night before because the barn cat was having her kittens and you couldn't bear to leave her.

I was that teacher.

The one whose end of the year gift to the parent volunteers was to have a happy hour in their honor complete with cocktails made with the strawberries we picked together. I bet you would get a good laugh out of that now if you knew what ended up happening to those strawberries.

I was that teacher.

The one who wasn't afriad to take you on an overnight field trip. The one who took some of you to your very first restaurant and/or hotel.

I was that teacher.

The one that taught you about drugs and bullies and sex. The one that never shied away from your questions, the one that had the girl talk with you. The one that then dropped a tampon in a full cup of water and the one that told you that if you decide to wear pads it will only feel like a mattress but not look like it and that the seams in panties lie, so plan accordingly.

I was that teacher.

The one who never took a break on Fridays in order to write a note to your parents about the week you had, something new you learned, a challenge you faced, or your overall fabulousness. Sometimes this meant as many as 32 notes. I also included a fill-in-the-blank question for your parents so I could get to know you and your family better every week.

I was that teacher.

The one who went to one too many funerals of students and former students, the one who still to this day can't understand why.

I was that teacher.

The one that had a nickname for each student. The one who informed you that nicknames simply had to come to me and I couldn't create them on the spot even though from the moment you walked through the doors you were highly anticipating the bestowing of that name.

I was that teacher.

The one who read aloud to you at an age where many think you're too old to be read to. The one that knew the magic of storytelling and how to always stop at the most suspenseful parts, the one that gave you marshmallows right along with Lafcadio the Lion so you could experience them through his eyes.

I was that teacher.

The one you came back to visit year after year to receive hugs and give me updates on you and your classmates, the one who came to watch the big game or see your recital, your black belt test, your graduation. The one you still write to, the one you told you were being deployed, the one you invited to your wedding.

I was that teacher.

The one that helped your parents see that being differently abled just meant that you would be eligible for more scholarships than typical kids. The one that held their hands through endless meetings, the one that validated their deepest, darkest, often unmentioned concerns and the one that got you every last service you needed and deserved even when you were no longer in my class.

I was that teacher.

The one who was asked so many times to give up teaching forever to move on to "better" things in the system, but who knew there was, in fact, nothing better than to see those smiling faces each morning with that "what are we going to do today?" look on them. I was the one that knew that kids deserve good teachers and that too often those teachers are taken away from the classroom.

I was that teacher.

The one that taught you about W2 forms how to fill out a 1040 EZ because we had a token economy and April 15th is tax day, therefore we needed to "file".

I was that teacher.

The one who loved every moment of teaching and who felt the pull to return to the classroom each time I stepped out for various reasons.

I was that teacher.

The one who still knows that no matter what else she has become... specialist, principal, professor... deep down, she is still that teacher.

I am that teacher.

The one that wishes there were many more teachers like that teacher.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like that teacher! You made a difference in lots of lives. Great job MJ.

Brett said...

You are STILL that teacher, it just happens to be on a bike and 3-4 times a week

:)

m said...

I have no doubt that you were an amazing teacher. I can only hope that my children will be lucky enough to have that kind of teacher too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mila... for being "That Teacher"... because you are STILL that teacher, you just happen to have a different and FAR larger class room.

I tried to tell Sweetums about this blog yesterday as we were driving to Toronto... I couldn't get more then two sentences out and I would start to cry. Yes, I'm an old softie, but your writing touches me... and to hear you talk about your kids ALWAYS gets to me. I don't know that I ever had a teacher like you... but I also don't know that I ever needed one. I do know my one son does, and I think has one this year.

Thank you for being the inspiration for ALL of us.

Bopper

Anonymous said...

And all of your kids are far better off because of the teacher you were