My Defining Moment #youredustory

No moment.  Let’s just put that out there.  I’ve been a teacher all my life.

My mom has old math books with my lesson plans tucked in the pages.  Lots of work, even more homework, harsh consequences.  My 10-year old teacher self ran a tight ship.

My students? Usually stuffed animals.  My younger sister wouldn’t tolerate me and my bossy teacher self for long.

Mrs. Fitzgerald, my 3rd grade teacher, was my model.  I don’t recall a lot of work or huge amounts of homework or an especially harsh woman (my translation of teaching was a bit off).    She ran centers during reading time.  I fondly remember the games we played, the special time we got to read with Mrs. Fitzgerald at the big U-shaped table and her aid, Mrs. Castenada, working with kids all over the room.

I was a talker.  I think I would have sat alone had our room had more space.  As it was, I kept my table partner completely distracted from our lessons.  We played scientist with the pencil holder at our table (contact paper around a soup can).  Two pencils allowed us to reach into our bubbling beaker to extract a very toxic eraser.

I loved school.  I loved playing school.  I was practicing for my teaching career from the start.

In fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Dabney, was very ill.  We had a series of substitutes who didn’t stay long.  Mr. Sylvestor was my favorite sub that year.  He was a tall, African American teacher.  That was new.  And he spoke to us as if he knew us from day 1.  As I reflect, he was probably newly credentialed.  He had an easy way about him.  Easier than the other subs whose nerves jumped off them and made the whole class jumpy.  Mr. Sylvestor wore a suit to school.  Also new.  His smile was big and infectious.  I don’t think I had a lot of teachers who smiled.  Why would a smile otherwise stick out?  When he smiled at you, you couldn’t help smile back and feel happy to be at school.

So when was my defining moment?  When did I decide to become a teacher?  Hard to say.  Let’s give 3rd grade the credit.  Mrs. Fitzgerald set the path and Mr. Sylvestor sealed the deal.  I wonder if I’ve payed that forward with any of my students?


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