Part of being a teacher is staying vulnerable enough to be tender and kind, yet tough enough to withstand the slings and arrows of creative insults.
Having taught for over forty years, I always tried to maintain the balance between tenderness and telling it like it is. I sometimes refer to that as carefrontation.
It has been both my joy and my fright to hear some of the things students have said about me. One time a new student was asking an old hand what I was like. The older boy summed up his vast experience with, “Watch what you say ’cause she hears everything. Heck, she could hear a bug fart a block away!”
And yup, I got my share of put-downs and even some threats over the years. Usually those were because I had the audacity to ask the kids to do their work, or even worse, be civil to each other, ha:-) I survived those and tried to address the reasons behind them.
One gal really appreciated my consideration since she had come from an educational environment which allowed academic bullying, or picking on her for her lack of school skills, by what was not done and said by the teacher. This sweet young lady liked what she referred to Mrs. Tag’isms. Those were unusual things I said now and then in class.
She noticed that I used certain sayings in various situations and, having asked me where I got them and was told I just thought of them, she said I should write them down because they were good. I was flattered but didn’t get around to following her sage advice. So here’s an effort to recreate some of them.
I think of these as Vitamins for the Soul, to be dispersed when needed to inspire and keep kids encouraged in the adventure of learning.
Mistakes are the stairways to the stars! Sometimes for learning, sometimes for tripping so you can practice getting back up.
Soul Math: A certain number of won’ts adds up to can’ts!
If a problem is little, let it stay little. Don’t make it bigger:-)
Spray some sentences around and make a paragraph/story, etc.
How to Sparkle: Stand on your strengths to build up your weaknesses. Makes you seem smarter than you are, and you’ll shine like a star!
Sprinkle some pepper punctuation as you write.
Bask in your progress:-)
Lunch Time: Tummy to the Table.
When a distraction is needed: Oh, go eat a potato! (Kids laugh, and the tension is gone. No one knows what it means, but it works:-)
On Life’s Challenges: Look at the horizon, not at the vomit.
Feelings are the frame which holds your life together. So be the boss of your feelings and you’ll run your life well.
Forgive self and others, and go on toward the light of your life.
Since I would only show certain movies, paying special attention to what they were teaching, I became dubbed for many years as “The G Teacher.” This nickname was also supported by my contention that there are enough real words, and it isn’t necessary to curse in class. I always said that’s just an excuse to avoid thinking for a bit about the word you really need.
However, the best compliment I ever got from a student was when I was working with a group of kids and one boy popped up with, “You’re so nice. You seem like you could be God’s Grandmother.” The amazing thing is that the whole group went for it, and supported his theory. I would have been thrilled had he thought I was a friendly relative of God. Wow.
I could just feel God smiling along with me at such a tender and kind comment. It gave me a lot to live up to. What a world it would be if we all tried to act like God’s Grandmother!
Disclaimer: FYI, be assured the child meant no disrespect and wasn’t being sacreligious in any way. Also, I did find a way to sidestep it in such a way to give the proper due to the Diety.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.