I sometimes think that I retired from teaching sooner than I should have. I really miss working with my sixth-grade students. I taught children with learning and behavior problems for almost 20 years and enjoyed almost every moment I spent in the classroom.
I soon discovered that to teach these children I had to approach their education from a different angle than in a regular classroom. I chose to use a lot of humor, and it must have panned out, because I had many success stories.
Most of my students grew up to be productive members of society. Some went on to college. One in particular now works for the State Deparment in Ohio.
I was thinking about this one particular bunch of students I had. The classroom was mostly boys, ornery as the day is long, but cute as buttons. On Mondays, in language arts class, we had what I termed "Word Day." We would study our vocabulary words, learn their definitions and then the students would use them in sentences.
One particular week, our list contained what I called "crack words." Some of these were crevice, valley, fault and crevasse. The students seemed to catch on. The next week I was prepared to discuss a list of weather words such as gust, typhoon, monsoon, tornado, etc.
As my students entered the room that morning, one of them passed gas. The smell was bad but _ very unlike them _ no one reacted. I went to the switch on the wall and nonchalantly turned on the ceiling fans. We settled in and discussed our "weather words."
After discussing the word "gust," I asked if anyone could use it in a sentence. Tyler quickly raised his hand and said, "Let me, let me."
I, of course, encouraged his response. ""Okay, Tyler, let's hear your sentence." Tyler responded: "Mike had a gust of wind from his crevasse."
I almost split my sides from laughter, as did the rest of the students. When we all settled down, I told Tyler I was proud of him. Not only had he used a word correctly from this week's list, but he also had remembered last week's vocabulary word.
The moral of this story is that I don't think it takes a lot of money to teach our children. All children can learn if the approach is one that encourages children to use their minds. I once told my principal that all I really needed in my classroom to teach was a piece of chalk, an eraser and a chalkboard. Each child learns differently and all the workshops, computers, teacher manuals and extras don't mean a thing if the teacher is not in tune with the needs of his or her students.
Teaching is a creative art. You can make or break a student just by the way you respond to them. I hope that all teachers understand the needs of each child. They all come to us with different backgrounds and different ways of learning. Encouragement and acceptance for who they are wins many a battle in the classroom.
Thought for the day: If it blooms, it can't be a weed.
Georgi Davis moved to Florida after retiring from teaching in Ohio, and she really misses the hustle and bustle of children and grandchildren.