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In 11 years of attending school I had changed schools 8 times. I did not go to kindergarten but started in grade 1. We had moved to British Columbia from Ontario. I entered a massive brick building and was terrified. The only thing I remember other than how scared I was is not being allowed to sit with my older sister at lunchtime. It looks a little like a prison doesn't it?
Then we moved again. Grade 3 started out in a split class of grades 1, 2 & 3. I don't remember this teachers name. I do remember being humiliated on a daily basis for not having a hankerchief in my pocket or for my fingernails not being clipped for roll call. My row never got enough gold stars because of me. That makes you really popular. She should have spent more time teaching the curriculum because when we moved again and I went to another school I was so far behind I almost failed the grade.
Xs on my pages. I had no idea what she was talking about and she really didn't give me any extra help to learn it. It became painfully (to me anyways) clear that I had no idea what was going on in math. What was this woman's solution to this? She made me stay after school, not to teach me the math but to sit there with the smartest boy in the class to rewrite my last sheet of long division. Show my work she said. Poor Dennis. He didn't deserve to be there. I don't know why she didn't do it herself but once again I was so humiliated. I wept. Tears ran down my cheeks and poor Dennis wanted to be anywhere else but there at the desk with me. She might as well have asked me to speak Russian.
Eventually Dennis couldn't take it any more. He started giving me some of the answers so we could both go home. I handed in this work and I can remember the big red circles around what I had still done wrong. This woman and her red pencil. She destroyed me at the time.
To this day, although I can do math on paper, I can't retain numbers in my head whatsoever. As soon as someone starts saying a number or two my brain shuts down. If you tell me a phone number to dial I have lost the first 3 digits by the time you get to the end. If you give me a statistic and someone beside me didn't hear it I can't tell them what it was. It just leaves me. When I do genealogy research and I find a date to record I have to see it on the screen while I am putting it into a chart or I will get it wrong. I can't figure out someones age in my head from their birth date. I have to use paper or a calculator. I know how to do it but I can't see the numbers in my head. What I see is a tear stained paper and an uncomfortable young boy wanting to go home.
Sir Guy Carleton Elementary
One of the teacher's friends was getting married that year. To encourage us to finish our work quickly she taught us to make the tissue paper flowers for the wedding cars. If all your work was done on time and correctly you were then allowed to go to the flower tables and you could make pretty pink and white wedding flowers. We all made hundreds and her friend was very pleased. So were we. It was great fun. Who knew school could be fun too. Jeesh. Imagine my surprise.
Mrs. Reed's class always had a relaxed atmosphere that encouraged learning. I was able to learn again. I felt safe in her classroom. I felt smart. This woman was the definition of a teacher. We had a class turtle too. At the end of the school year the whole class was invited to a party at her home. She lived in an area called Jericho Beach in Vancouver. We all got to play at the beach and we had food back at her home. I remember that my mother drove a group of us in her Morris Minor station wagon with wood trim and we got a flat tire on the way home. All happy memories.
I have pulled out my report cards from waaaaay back then. It is not my imagination at all. This is what I discovered.
1964 - grade 3 - 1st. report and second report I had a C+ in arithmatic. Now this was from the school with the split class.
1965 - grade 3 - 3rd report at the new school - I had a D in arithmatic which I managed to bring up to a C- for the fourth term. Mrs. Kennedy had written that my mother needed to see her about getting me extra help in arithmatic. Gee ya think? Maybe she could have taken the time to teach me instead of embarrassing me before she gave me that D.
So now I am promoted to grade 4 and Mrs. Reed's class. Woohoo. My first report card in November of 1965 shows me with a B in math which I managed to carry on through the rest of the year. What did this teacher have to say about my work. "her progress is excellent" although by the third term I am told I need to practice my times tables for 10 minute a day. From this grade on I managed to do fine in school.
So in conclusion what I want to say is that the postition of teacher in a child's life is a very important one. You are entrusted will impressional young minds. I was very lucky that after being beaten down I managed to pick myself up and hold my head higher thanks to a teacher who had compassion and kindness in her heart.
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