on teachers

September 2, 2005

I just read an article in the journal Rethinking Schools, entitled “Welcoming Kalenna.” Brain synapses now firing . . .

“How I yearned to have a teacher who could see me, hear me, and dance with me,” writes Laura, the author of this article . . .

reading this made me ache for “homeless” children everywhere. and wish that all could have such a teacher as Ms Negri-Pool. how blessed to have a teacher who understands, who empathizes.
i, for one–and i suspect there are many sensitive children like i was–looked up to my teachers intensely, throughout elementary, high school, even college [heck, even grad school!]. and so most of my vivid school memories centered around interactions with those teachers who, negatively or positively, impacted my life in some focused, pivotal manner.
the u.s was a bewildering country when we moved here. there was stuff everywhere, so much stuff. choices abounding, over what seemed to me the most ridiculous things to choose from. why have more than one kind of toilet paper in the store . . . who needs toilet paper anyway?? . . . why don’t i smell anyone, really smell them?–deodorant–why use such a thing?? . . . what do you mean, don’t climb the tree–what else is it for, but to climb? you know how nice the world looks from the top of the paw-paw tree? . . .
that first day in elementary school, grieving for my daddy, for my broken mother, i gazed around the classroom with widened, nervous eyes. at the end of the day, i thought, “i made it. i can go home now. i think i understood everything . . . most everything . . .” and then the teacher wrote on the board: HOMEWORK ASSIGMENT, and a list of pages. and i had no idea what that was. all the kids around me were writing things down in their notebook, and i had no idea what i was supposed to do.
you see, i had been in boarding school–“homework” was an utterly foreign concept to me, though no one thought to explain such a “normal” part of the school day. finally, i sucked up my longing to silently make it through the day, and i raised my hand: “Um, Miss Warner. . . what is homework?”
“You mean, what did I write here?,” she replied. Students giggled.
“No, I mean, what is homework”
She hesitated, ummm’d, and then said something to the effect of, “why, of course, work you do at home . . .”
the other kids snickered. my face flushed, i realized oh, of course that was what it was. how could i be so dumb? . . .

and: “How I yearned to have a teacher who could see me, hear me, and dance with me” . . .

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