TEACHER Tuesday: Reminiscing

I guess the bane of retirement would be the constant reminiscing–you know, always bringing up stories about your former life as a steelworker, mechanic, teacher, coach, doctor, etc.  And I suppose I should clarify. The bane is not for the storyteller but for the person trapped by him or her!  

I have come to the realization that I have fallen into that “geezer” trap myself!  It always starts with the words “When I first started teaching. . .” Or maybe, “when I was teaching. . .”  I found myself telling this story last time. . .

Last year I had a group of seniors in an Environmental Science class, which was an alternative to Chemistry or Physics.  Every student in high school is required to take four years of science so many of the seniors opted for either Environmental or Aquatic Science, which was supposed to be easier.  The kids tended to treat my class as if it was a “blow off” class.  But with my background in alternative education, these students tended to be my favorites, plus I have always enjoyed the older students.

One morning the group was especially lively and kept interrupting my attempts to teach something serious such as the nitrogen cycle, which, by the way, they learned in fourth grade or fifth, but I digress. 

Exasperated, I finally stopped talking and just looked at them.  They fell silent.  “Look, guys,” I said, “I really have to make sure you learn this.”

On cue, one of the young men in the back piped up, “We can’t learn this stuff, Miss.  You gotta understand.  We’re stupid!”

There was that classic moment, the one they call perfect timing in comedy, and then the whole class burst into laughter.  I couldn’t stop my own smile.  Of course, they weren’t stupid.  They were brilliant.  It was just where they chose to channel their smarts.  They knew it, and I knew it.  

That day I learned more than they did.  I learned that having a relationship with your students and knowing where they are coming from is worth a whole lot more than knowing the phases of the nitrogen cycle.  Too bad they don’t test those things on the SAT. . .

By the way, that young man has the social skills to make it big in business someday.  I hope so, anyway.  He already has a daughter looking up to him.  





Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Appreciating the authentic story of another hinges on understanding your own authentic story. What is your story? Dr. King once stated “we are not makers of history but are instead made by history.” How has Martin Luther King Jr.’s story influenced your own?

This is today’s journal prompt from FOLK Magazine’s 2013 Journal Challenge.  Tough, huh?  I would like to think about how Dr. Martin Luther King’s story has influenced my own.  I was only four years old when Dr. King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, but I believe his desire for equality for all people and his courage to press on in the face of opposition helped pave the way for me and every other American to pursue their own dreams.

I grew up the oldest of four children, living in a small home in the country with my parents.  We didn’t have much but we had plenty of love, discipline, and food.  I was raised on good old-fashioned Biblical principles, and I learned from my parents a work ethic that would shape who I became and carry me through my adult life.  I appreciated what little I had but I had lofty dreams.

I wanted to be a teacher from a young age.  I practiced teaching using my mom’s piano bench as a desk, old books, slate chalkboard, and stuffed animals and dolls for students if I couldn’t get my little sisters to play. As I grew older I became fascinated with nature and pretended to be a scientist.  After that I began writing and determined to become a journalist and novelist.  

In addition, I wanted to get married and have children.

Years later, here I am, living proof that dreams come true, made possible by others who dreamed of equal educational and job opportunities for women.  I had dreams, perhaps not as noble as those of Dr. King, but grand for a young poor girl from Texas.  I am grateful to say that the Lord has made those dreams reality.  I married the love of my life 33 years ago, had two wonderful children who have spouses of their own, was a teacher for 30 years, a science teacher some of those years, wrote two books, and am now blogging!

But no matter how old you get, you don’t stop dreaming.  I can’t wait to see more of my dreams come true.  What about you?  Do you have a dream?