“You’ve learned the things you need
To pass that test and many more--
I’m certain you’ll succeed.
We’ve taught you that the earth is round,
That red and white make pink,
And something else that matters more--
We’ve taught you how to think.”
from Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!
by Seuss, Dr. (with some help from Jack Prelutsky & Lane Smith)
Alfred A. Knopf, 1998.
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Zimmerman, was one of a kind. She taught us so much more than how to recognize letters and how to count. She taught us how to think.
We learned about directions. The kind that get you from one place to another. We learned that if we faced the big window in our classroom, we faced east. I brought this lesson home as I stood in front our big living room window and announced I was facing east. Of course since our house faced south, Mom corrected me. It took a long time to figure out that east was different looking out different windows. Or really, east stays the same, just the windows point in different directions. What is my word of the year? Perspective? Oh..
In first grade, we learned how to get along together. Mrs. Zimmerman made me her helper. Since my birthday is in November, I started school in January. When we moved, I’d already finished the first half of first grade. Mrs. Z. had just the right balance of confidence in me and knowledge of my six-year-old self, that I felt good about helping her, but the rest of the class didn’t think I was too special. That was tricky, but not for Mrs. Zimmerman.
We learned how to have fun. Mrs. Zimmerman taught us to play with language. She once told our class the story of Prinderella and the Cince, a spoonerism version of Cinderella. I loved that story so much! I asked her to write it down for me so I could learn it, too. She did. She helped me figure out the big words, too. I kept that ditto sheet until the purple ink blurred and the folds turned into little tears. But I had it down pat and performed for my parents. My dad laughed till he cried when the "at the stottem bep, she slopped her dripper" came, every single time. My brother and sister sat through untold numbers of performances, too. Years later, as a children’s librarian, I got to tell that story (and so many others!) again. Thanks, Mrs. Z!
As my grandchildren head off for their first days of school, I send out a big thank you to all teachers. The ones who know how to help a crying Kindergartener stop crying, the ones who help new sixth graders learn how to work those twisty combination locks, the ones who guide high schoolers to good decisions.
Most teachers love children and most teachers love what they do. The best teachers aren’t afraid to let that show.
To all teachers out there: Have a great year!
To all students out there: Have a great year!