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Balcony People

By admin / November 9, 2015 / 0 Comment

Balcony People: “The great thing about balcony people is that memory allows them to keep their seats in the balcony of our lives, even if we are separated from them physically.” Steven Layne 10-9-15

I am typically not a passive learner; yet I was looking forward to our yearly ‘Teacher In-service Day” for just that reason. I was tired, overwhelmed and the thought of collaborating and working together as a team on any assessments, standards-based report cards, or any other new/old initiatives, frankly exhausted me.

I had heard Steve speak one time before, so I knew it had the potential to keep me engaged, but a whole day – really? Teachers sitting in an auditorium for that long, is not something we do well. We’re movers; we’re talkers; we’re people who need action.

I had no preconceived notions/definitions of a successful day, BUT when I left, I knew it was. I had laughed, hard; I had teared up; I had been affirmed that kids are still kids regardless of all the standards; I had been affirmed that reading aloud to kids IS really important; I was reminded that the common sense, basics still count and matter. Mostly importantly, he reminded me of the ART of teaching and that it is personal and not just a score on a test.

For some reason, I do not have many specific memories of things I did in elementary, but I categorically remember every teacher I had from kindergarten through junior high. In this day and age of technology and how easily accessible information is to us, and how more connected than ever we are and unconnected at the same time, it’s about personal connection. Children need (okay – so do adults) people in their lives to motivate them, love them, excite them about learning and how splendid it can be to learn about “stuff”.

While the teacher in-service topic was “Igniting a Passion for Reading” and I gained A LOT about the topic, it also left me personally renewed.

My challenge to you: sit quietly and let your mind go back in time, remembering your teachers. Jot down what you remember: did you connect with them; were they not a good fit (and that’s okay); did they help you in some way; are you grateful to them, or do you just remember them? If you’re so inclined, jot them a note and say so! As a teacher, it just might be that boost they need on that particular day.

I’ll go first….

Kindergarten: Mrs. Purcell; can’t remember her face, but I am sure she was beautiful and had long hair and was petite; she took care of me when I sat on the piano bench and cried.

First Grade: Mrs. Donart: we had a class Guinea pig AND I got to go to her house and play!

Second Grade: Mrs. Lacey: she had a very loud voice in a tiny body (sometimes I think I’m that loud-poor kids)

Third Grade: Mrs. Witt: she told Steve not to tip his chair backwards and when he hit his head on the wall and there was blood, I think she probably wanted to say, “told you so”, but didn’t. She was also my piano teacher for a while.

Fourth Grade: Mr. Stanley: he was chubby and smiled a lot (but I was in love with Gary Wellbaum so fourth grade was a blur).

Fifth Grade: Mrs. Mulvey: was kind and helpful as I made the transition from the small country school to the big school “in town”. I was so scared.

Sixth grade: Mr. Miller: I remember he went to my church and he wore glasses and had an interesting walk.

Seventh/Eighth Grades:

Mr. Kibler: Science: he made it fun (and he was handsome, which helped, because I really didn’t like science)

Mrs. Holmes: Reading: helped me learn to read the directions FIRST on a test.

Mr. Geier: Social Studies: flat out crazy; big belly, beard, booming voice, believed in elves, had fish tanks and a big paddle hanging from the door, but he instilled a LOVE of maps and geography in me that I still have to this day. He loved kids and was a PERFECT fit for eighth graders!

Mr. Hardwick: Band teacher. His love of music was contagious; he always pushed me and built that intrinsic reward of knowing I could do it!

Who and what were your teachers for you? Yes, it is personal and I know I worked because of the teachers and how they connected with me, not because of the content. And THAT is the art of teaching that lasts a lot longer than the science. Thank you Steven Layne for reminding us!

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