School has started back in session over most of the country. It causes me to reminisce a bit over my short teaching career.
Near the end of each school year, a call would come out to gather pictures and memories of the year to create a yearbook. That meant picking some “yearbook worthy” events from the year. A few months back I went through my papers of my memories in teaching at that school. I tried to only keep things that were a sampling of the 2.5 years I taught there.
Here are some of the memories from both schools I’ve taught in. I’ve changed names, or just omitted the names protecting the innocent (or not so innocent?).
- One day we were reading and I don’t remember how it happened but one student, an energetic, very compassionate boy picked up his chair and looked underneath it. Upon being asked about his actions his reply (classic for this child) was “I was checking to see if it was made in China”.
- He declared one day that he loved the smell of baby wipes, in the morning. (Our question was then did he like the smell any other time?)
- Once a week we used a different classroom in the class period just before chapel. We went into the room after some recent renovations. A wall had been removed, but a door still remained sticking out into the room. One of my girls declared that “this door is absolutely useless now.” We found that very funny.
- My class was so excited about my engagement to Steven, who they called “Mr Steven”. They repeatedly called me “Mrs Messenger” instead of my own name of Miss Calhoun. One day instead of writing her own name, one of my girls wrote “Mrs Messenger” on her paper.
- I’ve also had moments where my students called me “mom” or “grandma.”
- When I shared with my class that I had a boyfriend (my first and only real boyfriend, now my best friend and husband) they cheered.
- The kids were also very curious and “involved” in my relationship with Steven after that. They wrote notes to Steven, they drew pictures of us. Because Steven and I had set up guidelines for our courtship (things to know what to expect from each other) there were many things that “normal” boyfriend and girlfriends do that we didn’t do. We didn’t touch or hug or kiss or hold hands. So my students would draw pictures then draw attention to the space between the picture of me and the picture of Steven to show we weren’t touching.
- One student came in multiple times sharing different “legitimate” phobias that he had heard about. I only wrote one down, and that was “merxcarryphobia – the random fear of shopping trolleys”.
- During a playground duty one day I jotted this poem down on a bit of paper:
I sat watching students today.
Running, yelling, laughing at play.
Obedient, joyful, enjoying free time.
Splinters, rocks scrapes and hurts,
Some learn and have many firsts,
Hopscotch, “In,” “Stuck in the Mud,” learning teamwork, rules and dispair.
Kindness, meanness, what does it mean to be unfair.
Little people, big people
I don’t tend to think in poetry. I’m more of a prose type of girl, but it was something that summarized play time for me as the supervising adult.
- A former coworker gave me the idea of creating a “we prayed for you today” card. We made a set and each morning we prayed for two of the school staff members. After we prayed, a student would write that person’s name on the back and the days date and at break-time a student would deliver that card to that person, or put it in that person’s “mail slot.” One of the high school teachers wrote a lovely note to our class thanking us for the prayers and cards.
- Several of my students lost grandparents. The funerals were hard. Sometimes the person was saved, sometimes not. We mourned together and tried to help each other out. I don’t know if it was quite conventional, but grief is hard for kids, and learning to nurture and share compassion is important for all people to grasp.
- When my grandfather turned “19” we sent him cards. My grandfather is a February 29th baby and he has enjoyed the celebrity status that comes with that. 🙂 We sent birthday greetings and the kids enjoyed the study of leap year, and birth dates. My grandparents wrote a note back, even sending some maple treats to the class as a thank you. That was a special memory.
- We also wrote notes to a lady with cancer and a few other people going through hard times. I hope the kids learned the joy of giving.
- Our excursions (field trips) were memorable. When I taught in NC we went to a farm, on a nature hunt, to a hands-on museum and a few other trips that I don’t recall. In Sydney we went to the Maritime Museum, the Powerhouse Museum (twice), to the Wollongong Science Museum, to an IMAX viewing, We also had two trips to my house, eating spaghetti and “decorate your own” cupcakes and a movie. We have memories of kids almost getting lost, or feeling sick from playing on a spinning thing in the playground, to being thirsty and needed a quick stop at Maccas (MacDonald’s) for water, to pushing one of our students in a wheelchair all over Darling Harbour.
- One student almost fell into Darling Harbour when the boardwalk was more slippery than he expected.
- My mother came to visit me my second Christmas in Sydney. My students really enjoyed her involvement and interaction in our classroom. I enjoyed it too. She helped me average my grades and write the school end of year reports and marking as well as many parts of the preparation needed for the next school year. It was a blessing for all of us to have that experience.
- End of the years are hard, there’s the good byes, the so longs to students leaving the school, and often the big step of students leaving primary to go up to “high school”. We tried to make it exciting to make that step, but we did have some “crying sessions” during the “farewell” meetings.
- I was a bit shocked when I heard from a parent that their daughter was crying because she was leaving my class. That really touched me. She had been a huge encouragement to me, and has developed into a beautiful and intelligent young lady.
Kids challenge you. They teach you fresh perspective.
- One boy would ask the most thought provoking questions. I don’t remember any of his questions, but they always caused me to stop and pause, and to encourage him to keep asking.
- We often didn’t get the whole lesson plan completed, but we did talk. A lot. We got off onto strange random non-nonessential talks, but we also had important ones.
In facebook this week I found the image below, and I really think it was a huge part of my teaching philosophy. I do regret the times I had anger. I hope that my students remember the the times prayer times and special talks and encouragement more than the struggles.
What do the people around you need most?
May the joy of the Lord be your Strength,