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Jan 14, 2010

WRITER'S CHALLENGE #3- TEACHERS WHO HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE - GOOD OR BAD


Thank you for joining in with the challenge for this month. Teacher's who have made a difference in your life...good or bad.
Remember if you don't have a blog and would like to join in I can post your page here if you email it to me.
To use Mr. Linky you will publish your post on your site then right click on the title of that post. Choose copy link location. This is the actual address of this post and not your whole blog. You will then paste this address into Mr. Linky on my post where it says "url". Above that you will put the name of your blog or your name. Click enter and you are done. We don't want the address of the whole blog because as you post other things the Writer's Challenge post will move down the page and others may not find it. Although anyone can comment on these posts please only link your site to Mr. Linky if you have written something for the Writer's Challenge. It is required that you make note in the actual post that you are joining the Writer's Challenge and link it to this site so others can join in too. This is how we share the love so to speak.



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?
Grandview Elementary

Then we moved. Grade 2 brought me Mrs. Strong. She was a nice enough lady but I knew no one at the school and was lonely. I often just wandered home at recess and told my mother I was sick. It wasn't like today when the police might have been called if I didn't come back in after recess.
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. 
My new teacher in my new school was Mrs. Kennedy. She was really pretty, a redhead.  I feel sorry for Mr. Kennedy though because this woman was a bitch. She was so cold and uncaring. This is where I felt stupid for the first time. I had never done long division. We should have I guess but the hillbilly, handkerchief boss was too busy looking in my pockets and at my hands to teach us. So there I sat in class and my eyes were glazing over while Mrs. Kennedy spoke of remainders and such. We would be called up to her desk to stand beside her while she marked our papers. I had many red 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

Now I don't want to end this with such a sad story of a cruel woman. Most teachers are not like that. In fact the following year at the same school I was lucky enough to get into the class of one of the kindest teachers in the school. Mrs. Reed was a young fun woman who's heart was really in it. She took me under her wing and took the time to help me with learning. She was greatly loved by all her students. She helped a friend of mine get through her second stab at grade 4. This friend was going to fail for the second time if she didn't get caught up. Mrs. Reed knew how to help both of us. She gave me all of her flash cards and special teaching aids and let me take them home to "teach" my friend, knowing full well that both of us would learn from this. There was no stress, no pressure, no humiliation for either of us. We were simply playing school.

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.
Click on the names below to see their stories.



11 comments:

mbkatc230 said...

Lori, I'm so sorry that you had to suffer with a teacher who obviously didn't know how to teach. But I loved the story of Mrs. Reed. Isn't that what we hope all of our children's teachers will be like? And reading this brought back memories of a teacher who I apparently blocked out - my algebra teacher, and to this day I cannot remember her name. But I can see her mean face and hear her screaming tirades as clearly as if she was in the room with me. I'm the same way with numbers, and I'm sure that it has something to do with her. Loved this challenge! Kathy

Michelle said...

I was a teacher and I loved my job and my students learned and were happy in my class. But there are many teachers that should not be in the classroom. I've heard them talk about students in the worst way, just one of the reasons I avoided the "Teachers Lounge"!

hummer said...

My mother was a teacher for 39 years. She would always get frustrated with those teachers who would look at a child's IQ and say that's what they are capable of. She would look at it as a challenge to bring them up and forward in education. Almost without exception, her student's IQ would increase in the year. Teachers can inspire and uplift or squelch. I having six children and living in a teacher's world have seen them both.Thanks for the writer's challenge. Hug.

Blondie's Journal said...

This is a wonderful essay and I give you an A+ and shiny gold star. In fact, that is what I am giving you for all of your years of school, which didn't exactly sound like the time of your life. And truthfully, that is the way teachers seemed to be back then. I was so afraid of the nun I had in first grade that I wet my pants. Standing outside myself now, and seeing that little girl tapping her feet in the pee on the floor just breaks my heart. Just 5 years old and the first time out in the big world~terrorized.

This is so well written and I hung on every word. Teachers good and bad, sweet and evil...I wonder how many of us experienced that...

Can I do my post Saturday? I forgot (as usual) and I am committed to the mantel party tomorrow and I don't want to combine the two. Let me know...

xoxo
Jane

Gail said...

I have tried...

MiMi said...

I had good and bad teachers. Seemed like the good ones were angels and the bad ones were EVIL.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Hey Lori, all these years and I have the same problems as you do. And I work as a cashier, LOL. If I don't think about the money, no problem, but if I start to think it through then everything falls apart. I can't remember phone numbers either, do you think that we had the same teachers?

Really, some of my early ones were pretty bad. There was the young teacher, one who let her boyfriend put collars of paper around our necks, and told everyone that we were inferior.......probably a social experiment.

I am still thinking about reporting that.

A great post, and it does truly show, how a good teacher can make such a difference. Again, it is all about having a passion for your work.

Jen

Joanne said...

Lori - saddens me that those evil people tried to shape your life. Looks like they failed miserably -- they deserve the "D". Thank goodness for Mrs Reed - she knew what a gem you were.

peace said...

i was good at math until gr. 10, i was lost after that. i delivered pizza for bout a year when i was 16 and when i had to count change i always drew a blank. i figured they would just tell me what they wanted back lol. i had two teachers i could've written about in a praising manner. maybe i will sometime. teachers have a lot of power whether they know it or not. they have the power to construct someone as well as destruct them. and you've pointed that out without any doubt

Tammy said...

Teachers are the ones who are most dedicated and least respected on a pay scale or thank you scale. I learned math with a wonderful young teacher who used kiwi's and cumquats (spelling???) and do you know i went from a D- to 2nd year geometry 1st year calc with her. If not for her, I would never have gotten through school with enough math to do anything with. Some teachers can leave unbelieveable scars on a child while others bring bandaides the first day of school. I love you story Lori. I managed to get mine done on time this time. :)

nannykim said...

I am always amazed at how influential a teacher can be. I think being a kindergarten or first grade teacher must be one of the most influential jobs since it really often affects many years in a student's life!

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