Thank a Teacher
I thank Mrs. Ricketts. Yes, that was her name. She taught fifth grade. She had taught my uncle. She was old. But she knew kids, and she knew to get kids to love reading, they needed to know the excitement and wonder of the words in a book. So she read to us every day. She read The Jungle Book and The Secret Garden. I remember how amazed I was that the stories could bring the world right into our minds. I learned to like reading.
She also knew that kids needed to learn certain life skills. I was an extremely shy kid, and the project work scared me: we had to form a committee, meet outside class at someone’s house, and plan our project and presentation.
I don’t remember the project. I just remember that I learned to speak up, to listen, to help the group, and to do my part. I learned that a team of people could make decisions that created something others wanted to learn about.
For sure, I don’t remember the project or its topic, but I do remember that those requirements helped me come out of my shell and be part of a group. It wasn’t so scary.
The things we learn from teachers that are most important are not the skills and the facts: it’s the love of learning and the relationships in a learning community that are the most important to know. I thank Mrs. Ricketts for teaching me those things.
We’ve grown away from that somewhat, because we must meet our mandates and raise our scores. It adds a pressure that sometimes overlooks these human skills we need. So we need to remember the “Mrs. Ricketts” of the world and let teachers teach what is truly important. Kids need to love school as an expansion of their learning community.