Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Smart kids

I am trying to be a bit more positive on my blog lately, so rather than writing a rant about how my local newspaper attempts to turn teachers into political punching bags to sell papers, I thought I'd take a different approach.

Dear Ms. D,

You were the first teacher I ever wholeheartedly loved. You made learning a game - not just for me, but for everyone. I still remember the "rap" you taught our class to help us remember our multiplication tables. A lot of teachers might have been worried that the principal wouldn't approve of a classroom full of rapping 2nd graders (it was the late 80's, after all), but we knew our multiplication tables better than most of the 3rd and 4th graders. I'm pretty sure the principal was intimidated by you, anyway.

When I kept getting in trouble for whispering or not paying attention in class, you didn't decide I was some kind of bad seed (although I did my fair share of sitting out during recess) . Instead, you told me I was smart, and gave me work that you said would be more "challenging."

As much as I would have liked to be, I wasn't some sort of teacher's pet who got all of your attention. Once, waiting for my dad after school, I overheard you tutoring one of the "troublemakers" in class, Brian. Somewhat jealous (wondering why the "bad" kids got all the attention) I stood outside the classroom door and eavesdropped.

After a few minutes, I walked away, embarrassed about what I had overheard. You were going through flashcards with letters and phonics. Brian had trouble with most of the cards. Our school, or perhaps even our school district, had a tacit "don't ask, don't fail" policy, but you didn't want Brian to go to third grade without knowing how to read, even if it meant you had to stay several hours after school each day to teach him.

You loved all of your students, and we loved you right back. If the district wants to reward its best teachers with better pay, then you deserve a retroactive bonus (with interest, of course).

Thanks to you, I can calculate that.

Love always,

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