Saturday, October 18, 2008

Touching Lives, Out of Touch and the Andy Rooney of It All

As a retired teacher, I sometimes sit and try to put a numerical figure to the young lives I encountered throughout the years of being a paraprofessional and then teaching. I lose sight of the number, but chalk it up to about 27 years times 20 - 30 each year, not to mention how many other kids you know in other teacher's classes for one reason or another.
It is phenomenal to imagine the time each year (about 180 days) from first bell in the morning until dismissal bell in the afternoon was spent with well-known children. I taught in grades K - 2 most of my career. These children become like your own. You know them well, their habits, their idiosyncrasies, their siblings, their parents, even their pets and if you let them, they know you and all that stuff too. Teachers have unforgettable acquaintances and encounters with the parents, as well. Then they all move on. You think about them often. They enriched your life by virtue of watching them grow, you (hopefully) improved theirs by offering up some unforgettable learning experiences and support. You wish them all the best that life has to offer.

The first school I taught at was in the Columbine High School articulation area. One of my first graders lost his life, a freshman, on that horrible day April 20, 1999. It drew me closer to the tragedy, as one of the gunmen also attended that elementary school while I was there. I have a lot of opinions about what happened on that day, and why. But I try to not think about it.

I am not a big football fan. If the Denver Broncos play, I will watch it intermittently. Pro football and it's hype gets to me after awhile. Last year I discovered something interesting and exciting though and it was by virtue of just passing by the TV while an OSU game was being watched and going "What? What did they say the name of that quarterback was?" One student which I taught in that same school, is the quarterback for Oklahoma State University.

So lately, on Saturday, I look for the OSU game to be on TV and watch Zac Robinson try to pull his team to victory. It's funny, looking at his face, he is the same little Zac, that I taught way back when. Today the game against Baylor isn't on here. Watched them beat Mizzou last week though (sorry cousins). Go OSU! Best wishes to you Zac!!
If you have kids, think about their teachers, and I know I am speaking for so many of us. They remember your child, long after you leave them. They hope the best for your child, no matter what they do. Some would even welcome a return visit once in awhile, just to say 'hi' - and have that exchange about 'how you are doing'. We don't forget you, you just go away - and in some cases, we do too.


Alice Thompson said...

Teachers do leave a lasting impression on you. Even if we can't remember a teacher's name or any of the details... our minds still do - and those memories help shape you into the adult you'll become.

I still have a small laminated Art Award from the 3rd Grade. Don't know how it managed to survive, but I take it out every now and then and place it along side my professional achievements and think how that may have influenced the path I took in pursuing a career in Art.

I'm certain you positively helped many children to follow their dreams... Thank you!

Pattie Wall said...

Thank you Alice. It's interesting that the 3rd grade award may have motivated you in the direction of ART. I'm glad for you, it did!

I remember many instances in grade school, that let me know, I should follow that path. Teacher's who would ask me to and allow me to DO their bulletin boards, teacher's that needed a drawing or design for something and ask me to do it. What a good feeling that was!