Saturday, December 22, 2012

Teachers I will Never Forget.

I decided to give you a laugh for Christmas this year. Yet again, maybe you won’t think it’s funny. Some of it might be considered abuse these days. This is about a couple of teachers I had in 6th grade. 

The one that stands out is Mrs. Johnson - a middle-aged math teacher. She was a stout woman and wore her gray hair pulled back in a tight bun. Her mouth was permanently fixed into an upside down “U”. She usually called the students by their last names. I often imagined smoke coming out of her ears. 

When I was in her class, my main goal was to remain hidden and blend in as much as possible. I was extremely shy and paralyzed with fear most of the time during her class. Mrs. Johnson could be ruthless in embarrassing students. It didn’t take long for her to exposure your weaknesses to the entire class. Of course, after all these years when I look back on it I smile at most of it. 

For example, there was one boy in the class who pouted a lot. He would do this and slump way down in his chair when something didn’t go his way. She would yell. “Get your lip off the floor!” He tended to be immature for his age and it didn’t take much to make him pout. One time she even said, “Why don’t you pull your lip over your head and swallow yourself.” The class burst out laughing, but this didn’t stop the pouting problem. 

Another memory that stands out is that one day she was having the class call out prime numbers, when some dared call out an “8”. She tossed her eraser up and it hit the ceiling leaving a yellow mark. Scowling, she slowly turned to the class and glared at the boy who called out the wrong number. She glanced up at the yellow mark and said, “I should wipe that up with you.”

During the whole thing, I didn’t call out a single number in fear of disaster. It was confirmed that keeping my mouth shut was a good idea.

It was also difficult to get a good grade in her class. When students complained she would say. ….“If it was easy, you wouldn’t be learning.” I agree with this and feel like saying this to my own kids. 

One time someone asked me for a pencil during a test and I happened to try and tell the person I didn’t have a pencil. Next thing I knew, she came and snatched my test away. Well, then I was trying to hide tears. The next day she gave it back to me and let me finish it. But she also said something like “Crying doesn’t help.” 

She was a good teacher for boys who liked to goof around (like my ex). However, I didn’t do well in her classes. I got by with C’s. I was always trying to hide rather than relax and learn. (Unfortunately, I never had that great of a math teacher.) 

On the other hand, I had another teacher who took an interest in me. Mr. D taught English. He saw that I was shy and gave me the job of taking attendance in his class. I was really impressed being picked to do this. For the first essay, I got a C on it, but I had the option of redoing it, so I did and got an A. After that, I wanted more A’s and was diligent about all the essays I did in his class and I got all A’s. He also coached basketball and asked me to keep track of anyone trying to make a basket. So I had this form to fill out and took this job very seriously keeping track of all the attempts. I was sad to leave his class at the end of the year.

So when I look back on it, I responded to kind teachers rather than the harsh ones. 

How about you? What teachers stand out in your mind?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I responded better to the kind ones as well. Some people thrive when yelled at - I am not one of them. Or when the teach goes all psycho. Had a couple of those in both high school and college.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

I met my favorite teacher in college. Her name was Dr. Kerry McKeever and she graduated from U.C. Irvine. Boy was she smart. And she said that I had a talent for writing and told me to pursue it.

Rusty Webb said...

I had a Spanish teacher in high school that was the funniest human I ever met. Never taught me a thing but I would have taken his classes forever if I could've. Also had a Lit prof in college that I would have jumped off a bridge for if he needed me to.