Butterflies

You saw I was alone
But wanted to make friends
You reached out a hand
And brought me more in the end

Struggling with my paces
I always was late
You didn’t leave me to wander
But brought me in, made me great

Frustrated with how I learned
You taught me what I needed
Didn’t let me give up
Desire for learning you seeded

Pulling your hair out over the class
Swinging from the ceiling
Still underneath them
You found me kneeling

With encouragement in your mouth
You never let me down
Even when I didn’t believe myself
You never let me want to frown

So many others pushed away
Their own important task
You didn’t do this, no way
You always told me just to ask

Each one of you I will remember
Knowing I could not do this alone
Though I do not know where now you wander
I will always feel where you have gone


Recently I came across a collection of different points in different peoples’ lives where they had teachers who held them back instead of helping them move forward. I have had teachers in the past just like that, who did not want to see those they thought less of succeed.

But for every one of those I’ve seen or met in my life (of which, there have been more than a few) I have also seen and known those teachers, those educators who went above and beyond what they were task.ed with doing in their line of work.

This poem is dedicated to all of those teachers and educators who saw children in their classrooms, in their schools and didn’t just do what they needed for their pay, but went above that and did what those children (what we) needed because they could and because they would.

There are those out there that look down on someone, for one reason or another, and do what they  can to make that person fail. But don’t forget that there are also those out there who see someone struggling and deciding that they are willing to be a part of the stepping stool that those students, those children need.

Mad Teaching Skillz

I’ve read a lot recently about education in the news lately. How teachers are stepping up in the classroom to make a difference in the lives of their students. These people may or may not be parents themselves, but even if they have no children of their own, they are just as important in the lives of their students and the lives of the parents of those students.

A teacher in Utah several decades ago saw that one of her students was having some difficulties at home and with kind words helped to teach her things that the child’s mother wasn’t able to at the time. Something simple like how to take a bath and wash your clothes as well as knowing that there was an adult who was able to be there for her to rely on. This teacher had helped other students with their self-confidence by being a generous grader with their homework when she realized that the student would do better once she had a little faith in herself.

Another teacher, in Texas, changed the life of her former student so much that when the now grown-up student found out that her former choir teacher was suffering from Lewy body dementia, she took the now elderly woman into her home. The student had been in contact with her teacher for several years before that and would often come over and help with something should the teacher call. The teacher, Martha Hayes, had no children and no family left by the time she was no longer a teacher, but Carolyn James, her student, was quoted as saying that ‘her students were her children.’

At a middle school in Utah recently, when football coaches found out that some of their football players were taking part in less than stellar activities (cyberbullying and skipping classes, some even failing classes) they decided to make a stand about it. They disbanded the football team and told their players that they would have to ‘earn the privilege to play’ back. They were very open about why they were taking this course of action and the team reacted. Within one week, many of them had earned their jerseys and the right to play on the school football team. The team was told that they would need to do community service, attend their classes and take a class on character development. Those that weren’t doing so well in their classes were told that they needed to improve their grades.

The students, the football players, they took what their coaches had been saying and made it a reality. They responded positively to being told that they needed to straighten their acts. Within one week all but 9 of the original 41 players had earned their privilege to play on the field back.

I’d mention everything that I have read about, but then this entry would be twice as long as it already is. So I will leave off with a few experiences that I can’t place a a link to about because they didn’t make the news. But these teachers still deserve some recognition, because they have mad teaching skillz.

When I was in the first grade, I was always late to class. It wasn’t because I was actually late to the school, but because I was easily distracted and didn’t want to leave what I was doing just because the bell rang. My teacher, Mrs. Beers offered me a deal: if I arrived on time to class every day for a week, I would win a small prize. A pencil or eraser that wasn’t the normal school issue, maybe a new notebook to write in (I was always running out of paper after writing). If I was able to come on time to class every day for a month, I earned a candy bar. I haven’t been late to any class if I could help it since then even though none of my other teachers had a reward system. I learned that I liked being on time because of her.

And that brings us to today and why I started writing this post at all. I had spent the morning trying to find something that I could get into my head enough to write about, but I was coming up blank on most everything. What prompted this entry wasn’t because of all the awesome teachers in the news this month, though if they hadn’t also been mentioned I likely wouldn’t have remembered to write this at all. My eldest nephew got a 95% on his math test today and was the second highest score in his class. We found out about this because his teacher took the time to call and let his mother know in order to let Chris know just how important a feat that was. After learning of this, all of the other articles and instances jumped from the back of my head into the front and I knew what I had to write about.

We often hear about the lame teachers when talking to students, but maybe we should pay more attention to the ones with mad skillz instead.

Research:

Teach to clean: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=27091871&nid=1010&title=woman-reconnects-with-teacher-who-changed-her-life&fm=home_page&s_cid=featured-5 and http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=26890135&nid=1010&title=35-years-later-woman-searches-for-teacher-who-changed-her-life

Choir teacher: http://www.today.com/news/full-circle-woman-cares-beloved-childhood-teacher-8C11299078

Football team: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587020/Taking-a-stand-Union-High-coach-suspends-entire-football-team-in-lesson-about-character.html?pg=all#cxrecs_s and http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587112/National-attention-support-overwhelm-Union-High-coaches-administrators.html

Homework

You know what I don’t miss? Language Arts homework. You know, that thing that elementary schools give kids before they get to middle and/or high school and they start calling it English class? I hated Language Arts homework from elementary school more than I hated any other type of homework. (Including graphing even though I spent three years of math not learning it due to outside forces conspiring against me and then having to take a big test on graphing with a concussion and the inability to move my neck. At all.)

Anyways, I hated that class. Not the writing part or the reading part or the comprehension parts, just the language arts part. The part where they take a perfectly good sentence and then make you dissect like you’re in some kind of literary biology class. (Although actually dissecting frogs and stuff? Awesome.) Is there ever really a time during adulthood where I’m going to need to know what the difference between an imperative sentence and interrogative sentence are? outside of another English class that may or may not include that homework just for the sake of it? No. I haven’t run into needing to know that one single time since graduating high school and I have been through college.

Several of my siblings have been through enough college that they even get to have a couple fancy initials after their names and they didn’t need to know that either. I know this because I was one of the few that was really good at essay reading and writing and so got conned into double checking all of their homework to make sure it was correct. One of those siblings got a Bachelor’s in Accounting (she liked numbers a lot more than they liked her, but whatever.)

I’m going into this rant because my eldest nephew just spent 20 minutes going over some homework that demanded he know the difference between the two aforementioned sentences as well as a couple other things. I can get the spelling and the grammar (heaven’s knows that several of his aunts and/or uncles could REALLY use some help in that area), but I’m just not seeing the point in the other part.

If anyone else knows of a point besides giving the kids something else to work on (I swear, I’m seeing Algebra appear a lot sooner in their homework than it ever did in mine) then I am willing to listen because I’ve always wondered if there even was a point.

Side note: I am also incredibly grateful for all the effort that teachers put into these lesson plans. I take one look at it all in its entirety and am just in awe. I don’t think I could ever do that and then grade all of the work as well. My rant is in no way meant as being negative towards teachers. I’m aware that it is not really teachers that put together what is and isn’t required for a student to learn. I just wondered at learning the dissection of sentences as a kid and still do as an adult.