Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Kind of Teacher

Back to School night can be a process of mild manner greetings and yawning through the outline of the day to day activities. One might sit in their children's small chairs and rememeber what it was for us to be in school and get itchy with drudgery. We might high tail it out of there in breath a sigh of relief in the parking lot....Thank God I am not a kid...all those worksheets and the teacher's droning voice would kill me...

This week Back to School Night was different. It may be because Todd and I have really turned around our perspective on education, after seriously considering homeschooling and researching it for several months, I have a whole new gratitude for those who take on educating daily, for 35 kids not even their own. It may also be because we have a joint commitment that learning be fun, so we see it that way. Our perspective seeks out and finds the fun rather than the drudgery. It is most deffinately also because of the teacher.

Mrs. Johnson's energy and way of speaking says "Strap in, we are going for a RIDE!" then she practically shouts with joy, guffaws, screeches, mimics kids moaning, and laughs right along with us through the whole curriculum of second grade. She looks like a Commando Barbie teacher, fun yet firm, and delightful.
She tells us "My goal in giving homework is to give you MORE TIME with Them." She says this like our lives depend in it. And in a way I get that it does. We only have so much time with our kids. They are growing fast and soon they will be living away from home, in their own worlds and we will be stirring our soup and remembering how NOISY the house used to be and how we couldn't get a moment of peace to think....and now all we do is think about those moments.

Mrs. Johnson wants to revel in the moment we have now. She makes learning FUN. She puts a raw egg in vinegar and has it sitting at the front of class for days. Everyday the big exciting question is "What's happening to the egg? Should we put food coloring in it? What are all those bubbles? What does it feel like?" You can imagine the kids all standing around the egg and jumping up and down with uncontrollable glee.

She sweetly commands, before we leave the room to come up and "poke the egg". So after breathlessly blasting through all the fun things the kids are going to do this year, Mrs. Johnson waves us up front and fifty or so adults cautiously approach the vinegary egg and poke it. The shell is completely dissolved..Where did it go? It's rubbery and 2 x bigger than an egg should be. It is fascinating. We are curious about what other experiments we can do with our kids.
We are inspired, excited and have complete faith that our son will love his experience with school this year. We are also inspired by what human beings are capable of...a young Mom rallying and waking up an entire room of adults (at least my husband and I) to how really truly fun learning, "even" in a classroom in a public school can be. If you choose it. If you create it.

I approach Mrs. Johnson to connect, thank her and introduce her to my husband. I find myself excitedly telling her how we did "Terrific Scientific Tuesday" all summer and did experiments like "Will it Freeze? or Will it Float?" and how FUN it was for the kids. I see her eyes light up and we recognize kindred spirits in partnership. FUN! Kids love to learn, we agree, it's the adults who see it as drudgery. And it doesn't have to be that way. Kids want to learn AND play. I shared with her how much I appreciated being able to have time with the kids to do that after school too, and how Bodee would often do all his homework on Monday so he could play all week.
She says "That's my kind of kid."
We certainly are fortunate, because she is "Our kind of teacher."

Zen Honeycutt

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