I’ve spent many of these last days of summer working furiously to unpack and prepare for this new, exciting chapter in my teaching career. As I walked through the halls of Easterly Parkway Elementary this month, I was not surprised to find that I was not the only teacher spending endless hours preparing for the coming year. I glanced into each room and was reminded about how very different we all are — those of us who have chosen to devote our lives to teaching — but how we all have one very important thing in common. We love what we do with all our hearts, and take our jobs very seriously. I offer this month a column that I wrote several years ago that says that very thing. And this teacher reminds everyone that sometimes there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. Enjoy …
Sniff. Sniff. Can you smell it? You know what I mean. That smell is here; the smell of new pencils, new books, new crayons and markers, the smell of new shoes, new clothes, and a new backpack — and you know what that means. School is in the air!
Perhaps the biggest sign that school is right around the corner is the buzz that is flying around the pool, in the supermarket and at your local fall sporting practices. Who will get the Best Teacher of All? Who will be the lucky kids to get in the Best Teacher of All’s class?
Remember in “Mary Poppins,” when Jane and Michael wrote a letter and asked for the perfect nanny? The father was stunned when Mary Poppins handed him the list that he had thrown into the fire. It went something like this:
(Start humming ...) “If you want this choice position, have a cheery disposition; rosy cheeks, no warts; play games, all sorts. You must be kind, you must be witty, very sweet and fairly pretty; take us on outings, give us treats, sing songs, bring sweets. ...”
That’s what keeps going through my mind at this time of year. That super duper wish list. The wish list each parent and child has. Here’s what I think the wish list is for the perfect teacher. Wanted: teacher; must be sweet, even-tempered, hip, funny, pretty, smart, young, experienced and energetic. Must never yell, get mad, throw things or lose her temper. Must be very patient, wear stylish clothes, have a lovely laugh and smell like fresh baked cookies.
So, basically, that would count me out. (And, perhaps, everyone I know.)
While we teachers may not all be young or hip or very tall, there are some things we have in common. We are committed to our jobs and to your kids. These are some of the things we can promise you. We will get to know your child inside and out; we will learn about his pets, his siblings, his likes and dislikes and will always notice when he gets a haircut. We will push him to be independent, self-sufficient, confident and responsible. We will help guide him when things don’t go his way and will laugh with him (and applaud) when they do. We will push him until he reaches the potential that we know he has, and we will be there when he falls, to pick him back up, dust him off and start him back up that hill. That’s our job, and that’s what we love to do.
Contrary to what my kindergarteners recommended to our student intern, we will not be teaching kickboxing, having cinema time every day; they cannot ride mechanical bulls in class, skateboard off the roof (with kneepads, of course) and we will not buy them happy meals for lunch once a week. (I gotta give them credit for trying, however.)
As a mom, I’ve learned that often the teachers who work with my child every day know more about what is a good match for him than I do. I have learned that it is important for me to keep my mouth shut on some occasions and it is equally important to voice my concerns at others. I have learned that a teacher who was not the best match for Mrs. Jones’ son (that darned Mrs. Jones — always so hard to keep up with) was the perfect teacher for my son.
Yeah, we teachers don’t all look alike. Some of us are tall, short, skinny, chunky, old, young, and black and white. However, we all love kids and want what is best for all these young souls. So, please trust us, respect us and join us in making this the Best Year Ever for your child. One more thing — beware the buzz at the pool. Sometimes that bee will come right back and sting ya.
Debbie Marsh is a first-grade teacher at Easterly Parkway Elementary and a monthly columnist/blogger for the CDT. She is spending every waking moment unpacking boxes and preparing her room for the best class ever. She can be reached at email@example.com.