Tag Archives: Teacher

Ghosts Made Me Start This Blog

People often ask me how I come up with my topics.
They ask if I ever suffer from writers’ block.
They ask if I will post naked pictures of myself.
But no one has ever asked me why I decided to start this blog.

Until Erin Margolin came along.

If you’d like to know the rest of the story and how ghosts are involved, follow me to Erin’s place.

And while you are there, check out her words. Girl has range.

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When Your Teacher Goes Off Topic: #LessonLearned by Dawn Sticklen

Click on the teacher lady's butt to see other posts in this series!

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Dawn Sticklen writes a blog called Since You Asked… in which she explores… well… everything. This April she did the A-Z Challenge along with a lot of other bloggers who pushed themselves to post every day with a significant word or concept that corresponded with the assigned letter of the day. I don’t think Dawn has missed a single one. And they are at Y! (Why? Because we like you!)

Dawn started her blog to write about adoption and parenting, but these days she writes about everything under the sun — which is really refreshing because you never know what you might find at Dawn’s place.

Tweet with Dawn, and you’ll see she exudes a positivity which is infectious. But not like herpes!

Folks can Find Dawn on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @JoMoBlogger.

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Ode to Sweet Jimmy

Mr. Padgett was my high school math teacher. While “Sweet Jimmy” had a disposition that was anything but, he nonetheless managed to endear himself to his students. (Well, some of us.) With arms covered in tattoos commemorating his service in the navy, Mr. Padgett’s imposing presence intimidated the typical mild-mannered high school student. In his booming voice he frequently offered his opinion about matters such as the low rate of pay afforded teachers in our district: “I am the ONLY certified mathematician employed by Nassau County and yet I receive no extra compensation for my credentials. Thus, I am compelled to teach night classes at the community college,”; or the district’s refusal to participate in the one Federal holiday deemed worthy of recognition by the ex-fighter pilot: “Once again it is Veterans Day and Nassau County is the ONLY school district in the entire state of Florida that does not feel it is important to show honor to our war veterans by giving us the day off.” This last declaration was always followed by a vivid depiction of how, while serving in Viet Nam, Sweet Jimmy’s plane was shot down and he was in a total body cast for the remainder of the war (or something like that).

Dawn's "Sweet Jimmy"

Mr. Padgett had quaint little phrases that he wrote on the board each year to help us better understand the material he was covering. Statements such as, “Pi R Squared Cornbread R Round,” helped us to remember basic formulas in geometry while, “O I C, I C Y, and I C 2,” reminded us that eventually the light will indeed come on during a lesson and we WILL understand the concepts presented to us (or else we would fail and end up in Mr. Roberts’ less challenging, albeit more practical, math class).

Mr. Padgett took time to teach us about the finer points in life, since Nassau County also refused to present solutions for the real issues teens in the 1980’s faced (you know, those unique dilemmas only those of us who graduated in 1984 dealt with – namely, sex, drugs, and rock and roll – but mostly sex). We never knew if a morning’s math lesson would also include a reality check about birth control (“You do, of course, realize that the pill must be taken more than just either before or after you have sex in order for it to work?”) or sexually transmitted diseases (“Herpes is forever; true love is not. Always use a condom.”)

One of the most memorable math lessons, though, was the day that Mr. Padgett instructed us to take our seats and prepare to pay close attention to a film he thought would prove enlightening to us. He proceeded to turn off the lights and cue the projector for a film hosted by none other than Ann Landers. For 50 minutes we listened as Ann interviewed couples infected with either herpes or gonorrhea. “What about…herpes?” became our class mantra as we tried to figure out what possessed those couples to agree to be interviewed on camera about such humiliating afflictions. (Remember, this was in the days before reality TV.)

Mr. Padgett taught us much more than just mathematics. He taught us about life, and somehow managed to teach me, personally, to respect myself enough to always put forth my best effort – no matter what the task before me.

Sadly, Sweet Jimmy died a few years after I graduated from high school. However, his legacy lives on not only as a great math teacher, but as one who helped prepare students for life in general. His impact on students’ lives has survived long after his own mortality – and how many teachers can say that?

What is the weirdest thing you ever learned in a class that had absolutely nothing to do with the course subject matter?

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

When the Teacher Doesn’t ‘Get’ Your Kid: a #LessonLearned by Marilyn Gardner

I “met” Marilyn Gardner when she was Freshly Pressed with the fabulous post “Dull Women Have Immaculate Coffee Tables.” As a total neatnik, I immediately took offense. But I quickly calmed down. Marilyn had so many fabulous things to say.

Cool things to know about Marilyn: She was raised in Pakistan and tasted her first strawberry in Afghanistan. She has 5 children born on 3 continents – 2 born at a hospital overlooking the Nile River. She loves tea and scones, especially in London. And she wants to be buried with her Passport.

Marilyn’s blog is called Communicating.Across.Boundaries. You should follow her on Twitter @marilyngard.

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Click on the teacher lady's butt to see other #LessonsLearned

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When The Teacher Doesn’t “Get” Your Kid by Marilyn Gardner

The F could not be disguised. No matter how skilled my son was with the fine-point of a Sharpie, we could tell that it was not an A+ in English. If the pen smudge hadn’t given it away, then the comments would have: “Does not do his homework. Disorganized. Enthusiastic in class.”  Even though I had heard the comments before and knew they came from a drop-down list on a computer program, they still stung. This was my easy-going, bright, 16 year-old, and he loves writing. How can he be getting an F?

School had always been a challenge for Jonathan and by default, me. Had I the ability and had he been a first-born, I would probably have decided to home-school but he was the youngest of five and I had become a relaxed parent, learning that a poor grade in high school didn’t necessarily equate to a life of underachieving. I had also learned that I could occasionally indulge in the immature act of locking myself in my room to escape, that unless blood was flowing there was no need to panic, and that hiding a secret stash of wine and chocolate did not make me an alcoholic or a binge drinker/eater – it made me a mom who knew how to coddle herself and engage in “self-care”.

Except when they don't.

I have tremendous respect for teachers and early on I realized although we may differ on the details, we both had the same goal in mind – that my children achieve their potential in an academic setting. Or, mostly we had the same goal in mind. Occasionally there was the teacher that did not seem to think there was potential, and that was the challenge presented with the F. While on the surface it looked like the F was a product of laziness and disorganization, on further scrutiny it was clear that the F was a product of Jonathan and the English teacher butting heads. The English teacher was a newbie and a realist. My son is an old soul and a romantic. This is a kid that spent a Friday night in October at an event called “Waking Jack Kerouac” in Lowell, Massachusetts. He is not your average student. And if I am honest, she is not the first teacher to face frustration with him in the classroom.

So there we were. Jonathan on one side, teacher on the other, me in between. If there was ever a time to put in the ear plugs and shout “I’m not listening! I’m not listening” to both of them, this was it.  But the reality was (and is) that I need to hear and understand both sides. Life is not about others understanding us, although it’s nice when it happens.

Life is about seeing from both points of view and helping negotiate understanding between the two.

I don’t think this teacher will ever get Jonathan, and the outcome will not necessarily be a grade that is pretty, no matter how much he tries to disguise it with a sharpie. But she isn’t there just to ‘get’ him. She has a classroom full of students, many with far more difficult circumstances than my son. Although I desperately want her to understand and appreciate this child that drives me crazy and that I would give my life for, it’s not a requirement and doesn’t mean she isn’t a good teacher with other, more mainstream, students.

The great thing about this story is that in the midst of the defeat of an F from one teacher, another heard Jonathan playing piano two days later, stopped in and said “I don’t know if you know this, but you are known as an outstanding musician by the faculty in the arts department.”

“Thank you” he said. “My peers don’t think so.”

“Your peers don’t know shit,” she responded.

He grinned until he fell asleep that night.

@Tweet This Twit @rasjacobson

The Horror of Public Speaking: A #LessonLearned by Chrystal H.

There's @gumballgirl64!

Enter my iPad cover giveaway

Chrystal H. has loved math for as long as she can remember.  In 6th grade, she decided to be a math teacher. At the time, she wanted to teach 5th grade math, since that is what she knew best. When she got to high school, Algebra I and Algebra II changed her mind.

Amazingly, Chrystal’s lesson learned is not from a favorite math teacher. It is a lesson that came from an English teacher who taught her more than English. How cool is that? You can follow Chrystal at The Spirit Within or on Twitter at @gumballgirl64.

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Click on the teacher lady's hand to see other people who have written about "Lessons Learned"!

The Horror of Public Speaking

In 10th grade, the English curriculum was set up so that we took one quarter of poetry, one quarter of essay writing, one quarter of public speaking, and spent one quarter learning how to write a research paper. The poetry unit was fun, the essay writing challenging, and the research paper was a skill I knew I would need the following year for US History. But public speaking? How I dreaded that part of the year!

As a child, I was painfully shy. As an adolescent, the idea of public speaking was terrifying. (I must not have realized at the time that teaching involves public speaking every day!) Mr. Tibbetts taught that part of the 10th grade year and was one of the few male teachers at my all-girls school. I was a little afraid of him to begin with, since he had a reputation as the only teacher who could spot gum in a student’s mouth from 100 paces. Fortunately, I found out that he could also be kind and supportive when a student needed it.

We had to write and deliver informative speeches, persuasive speeches, and personal history speeches. We learned about breathing, eye contact, and speaking slowly.

It was awful.

And it was wonderful.

Although I hated having to get up in front of my classmates, worried that they would judge me harshly, I loved Mr. Tibbetts. He was always encouraging, constructively critical, and extremely patient with this shy math geek.

Senior year, we were given semester-long electives from which to choose, and I chose to take Mr. T’s classes both semesters – even though one of them was Drama, which had the requirement that we memorize and deliver a speech from a play.  I chose Hamlet’s soliloquy, and 30 years later, I still remember the first part of it!

To be, or not to be–that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them.

Through Mr. T’s guidance, I “took arms” against the pains of public speaking, and by opposing them, I have found myself able to stand in front of a class, in front of the whole school, even in front of my church, and speak.

Not too long ago, I learned my amazing teacher — the man who took the time to help me in a subject that was a weakness for me — had passed away. He was truly one of the best teachers I ever had; he helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, encouraged me to work at things that did not come easily to me, and most importantly, taught me the ability to spot gum in a student’s mouth from 100 paces.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Tibbetts.

What pieces do you remember reciting when you were in school? Could you deliver things with ease or were you a train-wreck?

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

Opting In: A Guest Post by Wayne Borean

I met Wayne Borean after I decided to try my hand at Twitter. I tweeted for help, and Wayne was there with the assist.

Wayne has eleventeen-seventy-hundred blogs, but his writing blog is called Through the Looking Glass. I try to stay off it because if I leave a comment, he yells at me and tells me that I should not be reading and commenting on blogs, but rather I should be working on my own book. He is right of course.

Check out Wayne’s post Doing The Password Polka. Twitterstalk Wayne at @WayneBorean. I’m so glad that the Twitterverse exists or I might have missed him altogether.

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Click on the teacher's nose for the main schedule!

Opting In

Mr. Field was one of my Grade 13 math teachers. In 1975 there were three Grade 13 math classes, all of which were first and second year University math classes by American standards.

Mr. Field was a card. He was probably one of the funniest teachers in the school. He was also one of the hardest working, and he made us work hard through a combination of charm, humor, and energy. No one ever skipped one of his classes. No one ever wanted too. All of the Grade 13 classes were full year courses.

Mr. Field gave us an exam at the end of January, and we were all getting ready to start a new module in the first week of February, when Mr. Field told one of us near the back of the class to close the door.

He sat on the corner of the desk staring at us for a minute, with a funny smile on his face, and then announced, “I want to tell you that you’ve completed the entire years course of instruction, ten months worth, in five months. All of you have passed. Congratulations.”

There were a series of thuds as jaws hit the floor all over the room. He then continued. “In September I looked at the class, and it seemed to me that you were far more capable than the ministry thought, so I decided on a test. I’ve been feeding you the course material at twice the pace that the ministry thinks right since the first day we meet. Yes, you really have finished the entire course. You now have a choice. You can show up for class every day, we’ll discuss a mathematical problem, and then have an open discussion. We won’t be taking attendance for the rest of the year. Or you can take the class as a spare period. It’s up to you.”

The entire class decided to show up for class every day, and we did for the rest of the year. A couple of times when people needed to take time to study for tests they asked permission to “skip” the class. Mr. Field was quite amused. Each time this happened he pointed out that he wasn’t taking attendance, but everyone kept doing it anyway.

Great teacher, Mr. Field. Great teacher.

If a teacher told you that you did not have to come to class anymore — that you had passed the course — would you still attend? And if you could audit one class “just because” and not have to worry about grades, which class would you take?

Dear Mr Reichert by KD Sullivan

There she is!

I don’t exactly know through whom or when I met KD Sullivan, but I know I liked her right away. Her blog, Journey to Epiphany is filled with beautiful posts that have inspired me. KD has been a number one supporter to me from the moment I asked for help with this project. She has been waiting a long time for this post to go live.

But KD is nothing if not patient. She is a gentle, true spirit. And I urge you to check out what she has done at her place. One of my most favorite posts is called “Painting Grace Graffiti or How I Almost Quit Blogging.”

You should absolutely follow her on Twitter @kdsullivan. And her new Facebook page is here!

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Dear Mr. Reichert

At the time, Mr. Reichart was under-appreciated. We thought he was just plain weird. He had the worst comb-over I’d ever seen: badly dyed, jet-black hair started two fingers above the top of his ear and swept over his otherwise void-of-hair head. With bulbous eyes, slightly yellowed skin and a thin frame, he looked like a character in an old Peter Lorrey film. He always wore a short-sleeved dress shirt. But the most interesting thing about Mr. Reichart’s appearance was the wad of spittle that moved from his top lip to his bottom lip. I used to take guesses as to which lip the spittle would settle at the end of class.

Despite his geeky appearance, Mr. Reichart was the best English Literature teacher. Ever. I remember very little about high school, and even less about actual class time in high school, but I have three very vivid memories of this wonderful teacher’s class.

The first was when he taught a unit on English poets. He asked a question that I’ve never forgotten. He asked:

“Would you rather have some one tell you that they love you despite your faults, or someone who pretends to be blind to them?”

At the time I thought I’d rather have someone be blind to them, but as wisdom and maturity have taken their toll on a horribly flawed me, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d rather the first.

Portrait of Chaucer from a manuscript by Thoma...

Image via Wikipedia

Mr. Reichart made us memorize the Prologue to Canterbury Tales by Chaucer in old English! He told us that some day, we would see each other in a bar and repeat it…and if my memory was good enough to recognize or even remember any of the students in his class, I would still be able to quote it. Verbatim. And because I home-schooled my children, I made them memorize it as well.

My last memory of this eccentric man was that he created a holiday. He called it Lacey Day. It doesn’t happen on the same day every year, and in the Chicago area usually comes in early May. It occurs the first day the tree leaves are barely unfolding; when you look toward the sky you will find a tapestry of green lace.

I don’t know if Mr. Reichart is still alive, but I have much to thank him for. He sparked a love in me for English literature. He treated me — and all of his students — as though we were already adults with his talk of love and meeting in bars. He believed we could do hard things. But most importantly, he taught me how to make a holiday out of the common, and find beauty in the every day. So for a couple of days each spring, I look up to the tops of the trees and remember dear Mr. Reichert.

What literature did you have to memorize in school? Can you still do it? Which former teacher of yours would you like to meet in a bar? What drink would you order him or her? What would you have?

Lessons From a Tiger Teacher by Deborah Bryan

She doesn't look like a Monster? Does she?

My guest writer today is Deborah Bryan from The Monster in Your Closet. I met Deb when she was Freshly Pressed. She posted this powerful, personal piece, and I thought she was so brave. Then we got to tweeting.

Later, I won a contest she was running and she sent me a book of poetry and an autographed copy of her own book, The Monster’s Daughter. Then we got to emailing and calling.

Deb has an awesome life. Sometimes she’s a mom, and sometimes she dresses up like a zombie. And sometimes she lands guest spots on reality television shows. And that is why I hate her. I mean I adore her, but I’m jealous. I mean, where is my camera crew? 😉

Read Deb’s beautiful piece about her Lesson Learned. Check out her blog, and follow her on Twitter at @deb_bryan.

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Click here to see the schedule!

Lessons From a Tiger Teacher

I spent most of my early life assuming I’d make a mess of my later life. I was poor and headstrong, both of which seemed to be cons that outweighed pros such as intelligence, writing skill and my dastardly ability to flex the second knuckle of each finger.

I went through the motions of school, but I invested myself only minimally. Why on earth would I want to forego reading time to do homework whose long-term benefit I couldn’t really grasp? I’d plow through my assignments at the last moment just to avoid my mom’s not-quiet lectures on the importance of education, but my effort was strictly “just enough.” I didn’t see the point of doing more.

Mrs. Stamm changed that.

At first, I knew her as the personable, quirky teacher of my high school’s Asian Arts class. Her unique perspective on just about everything left me laughing more often than not. Over the first couple of weeks of the course, I came to enjoy classes with her so much that I approached her about taking her Chinese class as well. She was ecstatic about the inquiry, rightly seeing it as a compliment to her teaching. She approved my joining first-year Chinese late in the term.

It was a little disconcerting jumping into Chinese three weeks late, but I caught up pretty quickly. Within a few days, Mrs. Stamm started returning my quizzes with “A+++” scrawled across the top.

After class, I’d ask her questions about what we had just studied. She relished these questions and encouraged me to keep on asking them.

Within a few weeks, she concluded one such Q&A session with the surprising words: “I hope you keep studying Chinese in college!”

I laughed and said, “You mean, if I go to college.”

When I said this, she gave me a look of such complete incredulity I laughed even harder.

When you go to college, Deborah. When you go to college.”

Virtually every day after that, she’d tell me something she loved about college. She’d daydream for me about the adventures I’d have as a college student. At first, I smiled and nodded, allowing myself only briefly to enjoy the fantasy with her.

Thanks to Mrs. Stamm’s persistence, what started out as my humoring her slowly transformed to actually seeing college as the mandatory next step following high school.

It was only right and natural that I should go to college! It seemed impossible that I could ever have thought otherwise.

Sure, my mom had been trying to pound the importance of higher education through my iron-plated skull since before I understood what college was, but the words felt empty to me without the substance of clear experience to support them.

My class schedule was too full to allow me to continue studying Chinese for long. Those months that I did impacted me far more profoundly than I could ever have guessed when I first walked into Mrs. Stamm’s classroom. I learned not only a smattering of Chinese, but also about Mrs. Stamm’s youth in China. I learned about some of her struggles as she made her way to the quieter — but by no means dull — life she lived when I was her student.

It’s been more than half my life ago that Mrs. Stamm taught me at least as much about hope and having faith in myself as she did about China and Chinese.

I don’t remember much Chinese anymore, but I’ll never forget the warmth of Mrs. Stamm’s unwavering belief I could and would be whatever I dreamed for myself.

Who was I to look at the truths she told me and call her a liar?

Who believed in you when you didn’t believe in yourself?

The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life: Guest Post by Annie Wolfe

Annie -- all grown up!

Annie Wolfe from Six Ring Circus is my guest blogger today, and she has a great teacher memory. But before we get to that, a little hoo-ha about Annie. Annie went to college, locked eyes with a handsome man in her anatomy class, and they got to studying anatomy.

I mean, they got married.

Before she knew it, she was a stay-at-home mother to four energetic children. (She was very fertile.)

These days Annie writes about her children — Speedy, Princess, Dictator and Taz , and I must say, they make great material. Annie’s circus resides in the Heartland, where life should be simple but, with a family of six, life rarely is. I don’t know how she does it; I’m just glad she does. Read her post, check out her blog, and if you like Twitter, you can follow her @Annie6rc.

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The Day Mrs. Dean Saved My Life

I’m a school-loving nerd. The intense grin on my face in that photo says it all. (My mom made those sweet culottes and the handkerchief shirt.) I ran eagerly to my first day of kindergarten, nap mat in hand. There was never a day I didn’t want to go to school.

Annie in 1st grade!

I will always remember my first grade teacher, Mrs. Dean. Mean Mrs. Dean had a reputation with the other children for being tough. When I heard she was going to be my teacher I shuddered a little. She had the look of a mean old troll. I was sure I wouldn’t like her.

I was a studious child, very organized and task driven. I liked to get things done, but I worried I might not live up to grumpy old troll standards.

I quickly fell in love with Mrs. Dean’s no-nonsense attitude. She had eyes in the back of her head. While writing on the chalkboard, she could easily call by name and reprimand a troublemaker. Her head did not even swivel around slightly. To me, this was proof of her supernatural troll-like powers.

Troll or not, I felt so comfortable next to her stocky frame. I did not have to look very far up to find her crinkled face. She cackled when she laughed. I really loved her ability to run the classroom but I also grew to love her as a person. I specifically remember the day I fell in love with her heart.

We had a classroom reading chart with stickers to mark our progress. Once you had enough stickers, you got a free book. I was a crazy-obsessed reader and the idea of a book for a prize was incredible. I had a list of books to mark on the chart but I had to wait in line at Mrs. Dean’s desk to get my stickers. I was in the middle of the line and I had to pee so badly. I didn’t want to leave to go to the bathroom and return to stand at the very end. I was anxious.

I danced the clench-my-thighs-knee-wiggle dance. Finally, the call of nature could not be ignored. I dashed to the bathroom and hurried to pull down my pants. A warm rush was met with panic in my heart. I tried desperately to dry my pants with toilet paper. I stuffed ridiculous amounts of it into my underwear. It does no good to make a toilet paper diaper after you have peed yourself.

I remember whispering to the little girl in the mirror, “You’re going to have to be brave and go out there for help.” I was mortified. My entire class was lined up around Mrs. Dean. Everyone would know I had peed my pants like a baby.

I sucked in my breath and marched out to her desk. Mrs. Dean took my hand, told the class she would be right back, and walked me down the hall. She whisked me out so quickly, it saved me from much humiliation.

The feeling of my hand in hers was powerful. Her petite yet strong stature was reassuring. I know she comforted me with what she said, although the words are forgotten. Mrs. Dean didn’t make me feel stupid. She held my hand all the way to the office, where I called my parents.

I will always remember how she respected my feelings. She understood how potentially embarrassing the situation was for me. I wasn’t just a child to her, but a person to respect. I think sometimes adults marginalize issues that children find significant. A wise adult and excellent teacher can see things through the eyes of a child. Mrs. Dean was a very wise woman and most definitely an excellent teacher.

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If you have writing chops and are interested in writing about a Lesson You Have Learned, I’d love to hear from you! Contact Me. Essays should be around 700-800 words.

If you write for me, I’ll put your name on my page of favorite bloggers!

Hidden Potential: Guest Post by Saucy B.

Saucy B

Do you wear reading glasses? If so, don’t forget to enter my reading glasses giveaway which ends December 16th. Details HERE.

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My guest blogger today sharing her teacher memory is Saucy B. She pretends to be tough — she lives in northern New Jersey and claims if you call her a Jersey Girl, she will kick you in the shins — but for all her attitude, Saucy B comes with an enormous side order or good old-fashioned mama love.

I can relate to Saucy B’s story on one hundred levels. When she wrote this post and discussed how she was described by family members as “precocious” but school was academically challenging for her, I totally got it.

@SaucyB is currently taking a break from her blog, but I hope she will drop by to moderate comments. Her post speaks to so many people who have children who are struggling with school.

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Hidden Potential

I was late bloomer when it came to academics. I was young for my grade; in fact, by today’s requirements, I wouldn’t have even been allowed to enter school when I did.

But, since I was rather precocious in nature – often described as being four going on forty by my relatives – my mother didn’t hesitate to enter me into kindergarten.

It’s not that I didn’t get good grades; it’s just that those good grades came as the result of a lot hard work, a little bit of sweat, and certainly a few tears.

I was in my comfort zone with reading and language arts. But math. Oh math. There’s a reason that when I entered college I was an English major with a minor in Communication. (Dear Rutgers University, thank you for dropping your quantitative requirement the year I entered your fine institution.)

Anyway, it was in fifth grade that students in my school system could be chosen to participate in a Gifted and Talented program that met on Saturday mornings called C.A.T. (I haven’t the slightest idea what that stands for anymore.)

While I recall being slightly disappointed that I didn’t get to participate in fifth grade, I wasn’t completely surprised either. I was doing well, but I certainly wasn’t pulling down straight A’s.

Things changed when I entered sixth grade and was in the class of the school’s only male teacher at the time, Mr. Adubato. This teacher really tried to bring new ideas and other ways of learning to the table. He recognized and encouraged my creative writing in a way that no one else had. And after the first marking period, he got me into the C.A.T. program.

I remember being so proud that as part of the program I got to “publish” my own book of short stories. In reality, my work had just been bound with a nice front and back cover by the school librarian. But, to me, it made me legit.

Today, I see my son, who is also young for his grade, struggling as well. Kindergarten was not an easy transition for him. He received basic skills help and was evaluated this summer by the school’s Child Study Team.

At the beginning of the year, I told his teacher, “There are no rose-colored glasses in this house.” And while I’m very much aware and recognize that my son has challenges, I also know that he is extremely bright and articulate. Collectively, we just have to figure out how to unlock the potential that I know is sitting poised and ready in his little body.

How am I so sure of this? Last weekend I had the privilege of transcribing a story that my son made up to go with a comic book he had drawn. He had numbered the pages, established heroes and villains, and formulated a plot with a distinct beginning, middle and end.

He just couldn’t write it.

Apparently, kids his age are supposed to be able to write some semblance of words based on how they sound. My guy isn’t even close to that yet. So we sat. And I told him the letters to write so that he could bring the story out of his imagination and onto the page.

I strongly suspect that things may get harder for my son before they get easier when it comes to his school work. But I hope he is fortunate enough to have a teacher that recognizes his unique capabilities the way Mr. Adubato recognized mine.

How much do you think a child’s age influences his or her academic performance? And what do you think about “gifted and talented” programs?

If You’re Lucky: Guest Post by Chase McFadden

Enter my reading glasses giveaway which ends December 16th. Details HERE.

• • •

Today’s guest blogger sharing his teacher memory is the amazing Chase McFadden from Some Species Eat Their Young. Chase shares another blog with Leanne ShirtliffeStuff Kids Write. I don’t know how I first stumbled upon Chase’s stuff, but I subscribed immediately.

I honestly get giddy when his stuff rolls in. Chase is a comic genius. He’s got like forty-two kids, and he lives on this farm where everyone is always filthy all the time. Or else they are wielding light sabres. Or trying to dig up enormous rocks. Excellent, right?

I think somebody in that family is doing laundry at all times, but I’ll bet Chase is a good sport about it. He manages to find the rainbow behind every cloud. Or the pot of gold at the foot of every rainbow. Chase probably finds the leprechaun. You know what I mean? He’s that guy with the positive outlook. You should follow him on Twitter @Chase_McFadden. Don’t forget the underscore. If you don’t get it right, you’ll be following another dude.

And that would be unfortunate. And creepy.

• • •

If You’re Lucky

If you’re lucky, you have that one teacher during your formal education.

That teacher who genuinely believes she teaches people first, a subject second.

That teacher wise enough to realize that if you’re treated with basic human values — respect, empathy, and love – you’ll drink the Kool-Aid, no matter the flavor.

That teacher who takes a vested interest in you, outside of your ability to compose an expository essay or identify a poetic structure.

That teacher who is in the stands one Saturday when your team takes down the mighty Camels.

Luck is good.

That teacher who greets you at the door Monday morning with a smile and asks about your weekend fishing trip.

That teacher who talks less and listens more.

That teacher who you don’t want to disappoint, which is powerful, because when you’re 17 or 18 you oftentimes aren’t thinking about disappointing yourself.

That teacher who instinctively understands that disappointment is a much more meaningful motivational tool than fear and crafts relationships accordingly.

If you’re lucky, you have that one teacher during your formal education who sees strengths and aptitudes in you that you may be unable – or unwilling – to recognize in yourself.

That teacher who gives you the freedom to explore.

That teacher who asks, “What do you want to write about?”

That teacher who hands back your collection of humorous fictional stories, the stories you worked on for the better part of your senior year, with a simple note attached: These are wonderful. You’re going to have the best-written reports in your firm.

That teacher who tries not to cringe when you tell her you are going to college to study engineering.

That teacher who knows that isn’t what’s in your heart, in your soul, but encourages you just the same.

That teacher who knows there are some things a person just has to figure out for himself.

If you’re lucky, you have that one teacher during your formal education who believes in you more than you believe in yourself.

I’m lucky.

I had Ms. Watne.

What did you think you wanted to be when you were in high school? Are you doing it?

 • • •

If you have writing chops and are interested in submitting a memory about a teacher you had and can explain how that person helped you (or really screwed things up for you), as well as the life lesson you took away from the interaction, I’d love to hear from you! Contact Me. Essays should be around 700-800 words.

If you write for me, I’ll put your name on my page of favorite bloggers!