There are few jobs in this world as important as a teachers. I'm not talking about jobs like being a mom or anything. I mean the jobs you go to school for, apply for and get paid for.
But I don't think teachers understand the incredible power they have over their pupils. An exceptional teacher, whether exceptionally good or bad, leaves a mark on a young person that can stay with them their entire lives,
I come from a family of educators and county employees who work with and for schools and this post isn't about how under paid or in some cases under appreciated teachers and school staff are. It's about the teachers that leave a mark.
Many adults couldn't go back and give the names of every teacher they had during their education. But I bet they can remember their favorite and the one who made them miserable.
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Fiol was amazing. She saw something in me and would give me extra work to challenge me, she praised me. She made me LOVE to learn. I realize it was only first grade but I honestly owe my love of books and writing to her. I actually tried to fail during the last semester of school so I could repeat the first grade. Thankfully she figured out my plan and informed me that if I did get held back she wouldn't be my teacher a second time. She was the teacher that you went back to visit. How i adored her.
But then there was Mrs. Meyers. I had the terrible luck of being in gifted, which shouldn't have been bad except it sentenced me to spending the majority of my elementary school years with the same miserable, hateful women. This lady hated me. Maybe it was because other teachers loved me she felt she needed to balance the scales. Maybe she was just a bad person. I never found out.
This "educator" did more to educate me on the nature of cruelty then on any mathematical principle. She would openly mock my hair (which was burned off in a freak perm accident since I was an 80's kid), she would blatantly lie making up behavior issues and send me to other teachers because she couldn't handle me. When the other teachers would ask her why or defend me saying I was such an easy child to work with she'd call my parents and make up new fabrications about me.
She made me suspicious of adults. I couldn't wrap my young head around how this woman could be so mean to me for no reason and the harder I tried the more I would receive her wrath. If she could be so mean and such a liar maybe Mrs. Fiol was one of a kind and grown ups were much more like her.
I have tried a few times in my adult years to look her up. I honestly want to her to answer to her treatment of me. What did I do to deserve her insults and hate? Now that I'm an adult does she still think she can bully me? Does she feel ashamed of her behavior towards a child? Does she even think she did anything wrong?
I may never find out the reason Mrs, Susan G Meyers decided to go into a field where she was so miserable that she felt the need to terrorize a child who up until meeting her loved to learn. I doubt I was the first student she treated this way, sadly I doubt I was the last. But I am a firm believer in karma and I am sure whether I ever get to confront that demon or not she has gotten what she deserves.
Sure it bothers me a little knowing that I have probably thought about her many more times than I have ever crossed her mind but that is my point.
My son has a teacher this year who he says hates him. When I asked why he said, "She hates everyone". That made me sad and I told him about Mrs. Meyers, the scourge Mendenhall Elementary. I told him in his life he will have teachers that he doesn't like and he will have teachers that don't even leave an impression... but he will also have some that leave a mark. They will leave a good mark that he will have always. Teachers are just people. Some are mean, some are not... but some are almost like heroes in disguise. And that's when I told him about Mrs Fiol. And he told me about Mrs. Z.
Mrs. Z is his Mrs. Fiol. He loves her class, she writes me notes praising his manners, his work. She is leaving her mark on my son.
When you teach a child you leave a mark... and in some cases scars. The responsibility you have as a teacher is to make a positive impact on a child. To leave them better than you found them, to teach them and to care for them.
If you can't do that... If you don't want to do that... don't take up the responsibility. And for those who do teach, love their jobs or at least the kids and leave a positive mark... to Mrs. Fiol, Mrs. Z and the others... Thank You.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Last week I took my son to buy a pair of cleats for baseball and some sneakers. As we shopped for the sneakers I was clear that he had the final say so on what he got. Obviously I wasn't going to let him get a $200 pair of shoes but if the price was reasonable and he liked them that was all that I cared about.
After shopping for a while the only ones he liked were not in his size. I told him over and over we could go to a different store. As we were leaving we stopped by the clearance rack where we found a nice looking pair of New Balance for just $30 in his size. I asked if he liked them and he said he wasn't sure so I told him to try them on. He did and decided he liked them. I asked him at least a dozen times if he was sure those were the shoes he wanted (since I knew his taste was usually more towards Jordans) and he kept assuring me he did.
The next day he wore them and they looked good.
The following day though he was wearing his old ratty shoes again. I asked why and after literally dragging it out of him he said he doesn't like the new shoes. I asked him when he decided he didn't like them and he said at the store, before I even paid for them. I asked if there were any other reasons and he said no. I wasn't happy.
The last night I spoke to him. I explained that though $30 may not be much to him some kids will never own a new pair of shoes period. And he could have told me at any point prior to wearing them that he didn't want them and I could have returned them. I asked him why he'd lie. After more prying he said his friends didn't like them either. I told him that was not a good reason to not wear something especially something he said he wanted. He again said he never wanted them, he just wanted to make me happy.
I told him I am not happy now. So since he made the decision to not be honest with me or to stand up to his friends I am making him wear the shoes. If he truly hates them (as he says he does) he should have said something to me.
This isn't about the shoes. It's about being honest, standing up for yourself (even to you parents in a respectful way) and accepting the repercussions of your decisions.
My compromise was he has to wear the new shoes 2 days each week... IN PUBLIC. He said I am being unfair and said he should have to wear them for 3 days and then never again. I told him he's just not getting it. It's about more than the shoes, it's about building character and being the type of person people respect and making the right choice and accepting what happens when you don't.