Before you read this post promise me (did you promise?) that you will read all the way to the end. Don't read a little and get aggravated or mad or sad and quit. You have to read the end to see where I'm going with this.
Since I told you about my favorite teacher, Mrs. Watson, I thought it only fair that I also tell you about a few (very few!) bad ones I had, and one I didn't have but know about. Don't worry, I'm not going to call names here.
I took Latin for two years. I learned a lot in that class despite the teacher. I love words and at that age I was good at memorizing so Latin and I got along well. There are only a few Latin words that I remember well enough to translate, but more important I still recognize them as the basis of many of the words in our language and in other languages. This gives me a little edge when reading. Mrs. H was an older lady but I couldn't begin to guess how old. Bear in mind I was 15 and 16 when I took that class so age is relative. But she was no spring chicken. She was also quite unattractive. Now I'm not trying to be mean but that's the truth. I wouldn't hold that against her but what I did have a problem with was her flirting with all the boys in class and giving them A's when they didn't earn them. That's just wrong. They recognized this immediately and really buttered her up and she was either too stupid to recognize it or she didn't care.
I didn't go to college until I was 35. I had a hysterectomy 3 weeks before I started a PE class in my junior year. The teacher for this class began with a physical assessment and when I explained that pull ups weren't possible because of the surgery he said, "oh that's ok, just jump up to the bar and hang for one minute." I'm sure that you just gasped. I, however, stood there in stunned silence. When I recovered enough to answer this young whippersnapper I merely said, "are you prepared to sew me back up when my incision rips open and my intestines fall out?" Duh. On our first test the "bonus" question was Name the actors who played The Dirty Dozen. On our second test the "bonus" question was What was the last name of the barber on The Andy Griffeth Show? Need I say more?
But the very worst teacher I've heard of wasn't even one I had. Several months ago I was having some tests run at a doctor's office. The woman who was doing this particular one was about 45 or so and very, very sweet. She asked me what I do and I told her I was a retired teacher and administrator. She asked what I taught and I replied, "algebra and geometry." Tears began to roll down her face as she told me that in elementary school her teacher told her she was stupid and would never learn to do math. In front of the class. Everyone laughed. At home her brother was really good in math and because she was so afraid he would laugh at her she would hide and study math for hours and hours and hours. But when she got to class she was so afraid that this teacher would make fun of her that she simply froze and couldn't do anything. The whole time she told me this tears ran down her face. It was all she could do to hold back the sobs. At least 30 or 35 years later the pain inflicted on her by that teacher still grabbed her heart and squeezed. She still hurts so badly over that incident that the very word math brings it all back.
I know there are some horror stories out there about teachers. Some of them are even worse than these I've mentioned. But I want to say this right here and if I could shout I would - they are a very small minority. Most teachers - like 99.9% of them are there because they love kids. They love taking little ones by the hand and guiding them on the path that will lead to their success. They get up at daylight every day to stand out in the rain and cold to open the door of the cars these children ride in, they wipe runny noses and clean up barf and teach them numbers and letters. They hug them when they've just come in from running for 10 minutes on a hot day when the odor is overwhelming. They give up any hope of a quiet few minutes to eat lunch to tutor the child who stayed home the day before because Mommy slept late. They spend their own money to buy pencils and paper and colors and scissors for the child who has none. They give kids rides home when no one shows up to pick them up and they buy coats for the ones who are cold. And they teach them love and responsibility and respect and compassion. Their day doesn't end at 3:00. That's when they go to a workshop to learn how to teach a child who doesn't speak English or a child who is dyslexic. After that they have papers to grade and lesson plans to make out and tests to copy and bulletin boards to decorate. And summers - they're not off in the summer. That's when they take more classes so they can learn better techniques. That's when they read new textbooks deciding which ones are the best for our kids and when they plan new ways to present a lesson that kids had trouble with the year before. They're like the Energizer Bunny - they never stop. They never stop thinking about how to improve at what they do and how to love kids more. Because that's what teaching is all about - doing it better and loving kids more. Teachers are the unsung heroes of our lives. I've heard it said that if you can read this you need to go thank a teacher. Amen. Do it. Go thank a teacher. And if you are a teacher I love you. May God bless you each and every day and each and every moment of this school year. May He grant you rainless duty days, parents who think you hung the moon, administrators who let you alone and let you teach, family members who appreciate the person you are even when you're not at home with them, and children who are eager learners, who have no BO, and who lavish love on you every day.