We all remember our favorite teachers. I remember mine quite vividly. Names, activities, experiences. All that makes them my favorite in my memory.
Sr. Regina- Third grade. We did plays A LOT! It must have been at least one a quarter. Everyone had a part. They were always different. My favorite role was Pixie, the Christmas elf trying to find the true meaning of Christmas. Honestly, I probably got the part because of my haircut. My costume had garland around the neck and in one scene I had to pretend I was asleep. The garland drove me crazy while I leaned my head over and faked sleep. Sr. Regina was also the one who had us write stories each weekend with our spelling words. I remember one about the life of a desk. My first object story. It was my inventive way to include all 20 of my spelling words. In my story, I traced the path of the desk from the moment the wood it was made from was chopped to the day it ended up in the classroom. Because of Sr. Regina I consider myself a writer.
Dr. Kauffman- College English. He told us he used to be friends with Norman Mailer. He was ancient (my 20 year old perspective). But, he was captivating. Stories about being a piano player in a strip club. Impromptu drives to Alaska that ended up in relocation. I ended up taking as many classes as I could with him including Creative Writing. I don’t remember him having a computer in his office. I remember shelves and shelves of books. And a dingy, old people smell. His door was always open. I couldn’t count the number of stories we worked through together. Shortly before I graduated, he told me he was sorry he didn’t know anyone who could get me a job as a graduate assistant for an English department somewhere. All his friends were dead.
We all remember the teachers we didn’t like too. The memories we don’t want to remember.
The first grade teacher that allowed an entire class to watch a student be paddled in the front of the room.
The sixth grade teacher that posted everyone’s grades on a board when your math grade was awful.
The fourth grade teacher who had the reputation of being mean, but I can’t remember exactly why. Everyone just always said she was awful. That classroom had the reading groups. Redbirds and bluebirds, the not so sneaky code for smart and dumb from a fourth grader’s viewpoint.
The middle school teacher who didn’t believe you were sick when you actually were.
The college algebra class that is only memorable because of a test grade or two. Giant red marks all over the paper. I can’t remember that professor’s name because he didn’t make a connection.
It’s been 20 years since I graduated from high school. I don’t remember a lot of specifics about my grade school or college years. I am sure you can tell from all of the above I am a product of Catholic school. What stands out to me is the very good and the very bad. Not the everyday. The positive memories are the ones I feel make up the core of who I am now. But, sadly those bad memories do too.
Would I change any of it? No.
But, does it change the way I teach? Yes.