This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. Ms. Darkside (a friend, former colleague, and favorite blogger of mine) decided that in honor of this week, she would post about a teacher that made an impact every day and invited other bloggers to do the same. Sounded like a great idea to me, so I thought I'd take a little break from writing about the crazy stuff that normally consumes my thoughts and take some time to recognize a few teachers from my past.
Whenever I used to think back on the teachers I had, I was hard pressed to tell you who was great. I had teachers I liked, normally the ones who let us off easy or the ones with a seriously sarcastic sense of humor, but coming up with one who seriously inspired me to learn was a challenge. I never really made serious personal connections with my teachers, but I believe I did have some great ones, which I've only come to realize after having taught for a while. Before I got into teaching I thought that a great teacher was the kind of person who was always super energetic, running around the room, making kids laugh and learn at the same time, and finding ways for them to do cool projects instead of taking tests. And sure - that description sounds like a great teacher. But I soon learned that great teachers come in so many different varieties, and that a lot of the stuff that I hated being compelled to do in school was, in fact, the sign of an excellent teacher (e.g. work hard and learn lots of stuff).
So now that I've had time to reflect on what my teachers did in light of my new found appreciation for the profession, the first teacher I want to appreciate this week was a first grade teacher from Monte Vista Elementary School in Albuquerque, NM: Ms. Hudson.
What I remember about Ms. Hudson (although it certainly didn't strike me as groundbreaking at the age of six) was that she always had us working in committees on things we were all very interested in. I remember cooking pumpkin seeds, arguing with a classmate over whether a horse or a cheetah was faster after reading a national geographic, making change with toy money, listening to police officers speak to us about drugs and what we should do if we ever witnessed a crime (wasn't a great neighborhood) and learning about math with magic tricks. I remember that she inspired me to write my first story about a kid who owned a magic carpet (which, I might add, was published in the prestigious creative writing magazine published by the school). I also remember that I got the feeling that she cared about us. When I was in third grade I made a purse for her out of construction paper and staples, and colored a flower on the front for style (and I don't just make construction-paper purses for anyone). When I took it to her during lunch, she had a big smile and gave me a huge hug.
When I look back on it, I recognize how much work she must have put into organizing our committee work and creating a safe and welcoming atmosphere. And although I have no idea what I learned in first grade anymore, I am positive that whatever it was, I was a better kid for it.
So this one's for you. Thanks, Ms. Hudson!