Monthly Archives: June 2015

Teachers and their inexplicable gift


I come from a full parentage of teachers. My mother finally retired at 80. My father retired once, but can’t seem to live without the classroom, so he’s traded substituting for teaching. Still at it, at almost 88 years old.

You’d think teaching would be in my genes. But it is nowhere to be found.

It's not over there, either.  (art-Pascal Lemaitre, from Goodnight, Dragons

It’s not over there, either.
(art-Pascal Lemaitre, from Goodnight, Dragons)

I tried it once. I took on a music teacher position at a private school, going from classroom to classroom, kindergarten through 8th grade. It was a disaster. I only survived the kindergartners for a week. (I couldn’t figure out how their brains worked.) I hung in there with the rest of the grades for as long as I could–two months.

It’s not that I don’t like to impart knowledge. I do! I kept the private piano lessons going after quitting the rest. Teaching one person at a time, no matter the age, was fine. When you focus everything on one person, it feels like a relationship, not a scary job. And there’s no crowd-control involved because there’s no crowd.

This is what it looks like to me when I look out at a classroom....

                This is what it looks like to me when I look out at a classroom….

I admire people who have the gift of teaching and use it. I watch amazed in classrooms as I see teachers encouraging, herding, containing, proclaiming, moving an entire group of kids into an educable hour. How do they keep track of so many people at once? How do they organize all that material so each day is filled with learning? I can’t even grasp how they speak in that teacher’s voice that rises above the others, clearly and with authority.

Teachers–I salute you. Enjoy your summer. I know you will already be dreaming up ways to inspire your incoming students.statue games