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


About Judith L. Roth

When I was about ten, it occurred to me that books are written by people and I was a person. I could create my favorite things–I could write books! I got a B.A. in English. My first poem was accepted for publication before I graduated. I had some success with poetry, but my real dream was to write fiction for children. My first fiction piece was accepted about 25 years after the first submission. Things you might want to know about me: I know how to persevere. I’m a third-generation California native, living in Indiana. I have two remarkable sons who are now young men,and a husband who’s supported my writing for over three decades. I love cats and currently have three of them. I love being near water–oceans, lakes, rivers all work for me. Chocolate is probably my biggest downfall. I’m exceptionally curious. (Or nosy, as my family calls it.)

3 responses »

  1. I never got the gene for teaching. There are none in my immediate family. But you could teach college. 😀 It’s much more controlled. The voice I have figured out. It’s from the diaphragm. The opera singer’s ability to fill the auditorium with sound. Teachers have a gift– that is for sure.

    • I know the mechanics of being loud, but I don’t seem to have parts that go together to make it happen. Unless I’m laughing. Then it’s embarrassingly loud (although I don’t notice how loud my laughter is until someone points it out). Maybe I should laugh out my words….

  2. Teaching does become passion.  I did not plan to be a teacher, although why because as a child I played being a teacher and with 4 younger sisters I had a ready made classroom but never really took advantage of that. I was more of the one on one person and like you, I found that in teaching piano.  Going for the teaching credential was an insurance thing.  I did not like substitute teaching because I couldn’t get to really know the students or to do my own thing.  When I did start teaching with my own classroom, it was a different story, although I still preferred working with the students one on one and Adult Ed. provided that kind of teaching. That’s why I stayed with it for so long.  Love, Mom

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