When I was in second grade, my friends told me I was the teacher’s pet. I didn’t really think of myself as such, but I was the one Mrs. Russell chose to keep in during recess at the end of the day to help her with projects such as putting up bulletin boards, cutting out things, cleaning erasers, or doing errands for her.
You can see the book characters on the wall.
That year we had recess after lunch, and then a quiet time where we would rest our heads on our desks and listen to the teacher read to us. My favorite book that she read was The Wizard of Oz. She had put characters from the book on the wall and I would study them every day. I was so enamored with the story and so eager to know what happened next that I persuaded my parents to buy me a copy of the book. Soon I found myself the proud owner of the Whitman version of the book which I believe I read in one weekend.
Another thing I remember about reading in elementary school was the SRA reading kit. SRA stands for Science Research Associates. During SRA time, we would go to the SRA box on the counter in the classroom, pick a folded card with a reading selection and then we would be tested over the reading. If we scored high enough on the reading test, we could advance to the next color. If not, we had to select another story in the same color. Being kind of an overachiever, I would rush through the reading, take the test, and see if I could advance faster than anyone else. I was in the top reading group, after all.
Back in the 60’s we were all divided into reading groups based on our abilities. Though the groups were named benignly after birds or colors, there was no doubt in our minds which group was the smartest, which was the middle, and which was the slowest. And since there were no classroom teacher aides, we were expected to work on an assignment at our desks while the teacher had a reading group at a table in the back of the room. No one misbehaved during that group time because no one wanted to be the recipient of a swing from the teacher’s paddle or a visit to the principal’s office. There was real fear in those days. I think it had something to do with the fact that you would catch it at home as well.
So I was smart. Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. The girl who followed the rules. The girl who got to stay in from recess and help the teacher. Teacher’s pet. What about you? Were you the teacher’s pet?