Rant Alert: Why Teachers Have it so Good

“Teachers got it good they [teachers] get a great pension they never pay in the social security they get free lunches they only work 9 months a year and have weekends off.” – Facebook PhD

Note to self, don’t read the comments, it will take time out of your life you can’t get back and cause irritations you simply don’t need. Mr. Facebook PhD, “Have you ever used commas or periods?” Names have been changed to protect the mentally deficient.

I feel the need to clarify…no, I feel the need to rant since Mr. Facebook PhD refused to engage. Remember, don’t read the comments!!!!

Teachers do have pensions. In South Carolina where I taught until retirement, we contribute seven percent of our salaries to have a pension. Seven percent. Even after I retired and “double dipped”, a misnomer, I paid seven percent into my pension which didn’t increase my retirement one penny.

We also contribute to our own healthcare after retirement to the tune of $100.00 per month on average. It is, with Medicare, great healthcare unless you are becoming deaf, going blind, or losing your teeth.

Nationwide, most teachers pay into social security although there are some teachers that don’t, about 1.2 million. Their states chose to roll the dice that their state offered pensions would pay better. A few rolled ‘seven come eleven’ and others have thrown ‘snake eyes’.

Free lunches? “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” and most teachers have little time to gulp it down anyway. I’m sure there are school districts that provide teachers with free lunches but for over forty years I bought mine or carried a paper bag with a sandwich, yogurt, and a pack of Nabs. Oh, for those days of rectangular pizza slices with a side of corn and a cup of peaches.

I normally ate on the move making sure little Johnny or Jenny Sue didn’t do something stupid. My favorite duty station was restroom monitor…eating my turkey sandwich while breathing in ‘ode de urine’ making sure little Johnny wasn’t lighting up a blunt or flushing someone’s head in the urinal.

The final nail that caught my attention, the fallacy of having three months off in the summers and free weekends. “There ain’t no such thing as a free summer or weekend.” There are courses to be taken, instructional workshops to attend, standards to be reviewed, and yearly plans to be made during the summer…and now you must review your syllabus making sure nothing you teach or none of your reading material suggests CRT, Marxism, or why little Johnny has two dads or two mothers.

Weekends? Papers to be graded, grades to be recorded, and lesson plans that must be turned in first thing on Monday morning.

But what about your planning period? Parents to contact or professional learning communities or data meetings to attend…a quick trip to the restroom? Planning? Rarely does planning happen. Did I mention that most weekday evenings suck too?

As a side note, because many are confused, teachers are paid for the one hundred eighty days they teach and whatever planning days are added in. In our state, South Carolina, it is one hundred and ninety days. Federal holidays? Nope. Summer? Nope. Our one hundred and ninety days are divided into twelve months so that we don’t starve in the summer. Still many must take summer jobs just to supplement their families’ income if they can work it around workshops, we aren’t paid for…or paid little, to attend.

So, while we are paid over the summer, we are not paid FOR the summer. Further note, many school districts are moving to year-round school. Did the pay go up…nope, nope, nope, they are still on site for one hundred and ninety days.

Much is being written and there are myriads of opinions about teacher shortages. Good, experienced teachers dropping out, few new teachers entering the profession. Anyone who slept through my US History class has offered an opinion.

Many teachers have pointed to the increase in lack of respect from politicians, administrators, parents, and students. While lack of respect has certainly increased, it is not new. Teachers have never been recognized as ‘real’ professionals…we aren’t even recognized as real state employees unless it benefits the state.

When I first faced a class of smiling faces some fifty years ago, I was an anomaly of sorts, a male in a profession populated by females. At the junior high school there were only four males on staff. A principal, an assistant principal, a physical educator, and yours truly.

Male teachers were recruited to coach, not to provide mentorship in the classroom unless it was a blue-chip athlete. Coaches with history degrees were a dime a dozen which is why I added a physical science certification to put beans on the table…ridiculously small plates of beans. Yes, I was originally recruited to coach but am proud of my teaching career. I didn’t teach to coach, I coached to teach.

Why might you ask? Teaching was viewed as women’s work, a nice side job to keep the ‘little lady’ out of trouble and supplement the household income provided by the male who ‘did the real work.’ This was an improvement over the days when ‘schoolmarms’ had to quit if they got married. The view that teaching was a side job is one of the reasons teachers haven’t been paid as professionals until recently, if at all. Presently, women make up seventy-five percent of the nation’s teachers.

Another problem in what was once ‘textile country’, you don’t need to have much education to run a machine and uneducated workers don’t expect to get paid as much. “Keep ’em stupid, keep them poor” might have been a mantra.

That belief is a holdover from the textile days which ended in the Eighties and why we have a challenging time finding qualified technicians and engineers to fill our needs. We must recruit from other states and countries to maintain our 24th-place ranking in economic outlook.

Teachers tend to be looked down upon because of the “Those who can do, those who can’t teach” mentality which has been around much longer than the past decade. A family member once asked me in all seriousness when I was going to get a real job. Another asked me when I would graduate from teaching at a junior high school.

Public Education is in decline and parents, politicians and those who believe education should be used to fatten certain people’s billfolds (private schools) are throwing the dirt in its grave. With three hundred thousand teaching vacancies, many states are lowering their teaching standards to allow anyone who can breathe the opportunity to teach. Many parents believe this is fine as long as their schools provide free childcare and a couple of free meals during the day. One more slap in the face of dedicated teachers.

Public education hasn’t helped itself. Bloated administration costs, emphasis on testing instead of problem solving, passing everyone to elevate graduation rates, and a decrease in reading and math skills upon graduation have not endeared public education to certain groups, including me. We continue to lag in math and reading. There are more Facebook PhDs on the horizon, but these won’t be able to add and subtract either.

Add to this toxic brew, the politically motivated accusations of indoctrination, grooming, teaching CTR, teaching Marxism, etcetera, ad nauseum, I understand why good teachers are getting out and teacher education programs are sucking air. I had two choices of callings when I graduated from college. In this environment I would pick the other one.

I would like to emphasize three points that exemplify the problems found in South Carolina. This is an incomplete list.

We have formed a task force in South Carolina at Governor Foghorn Leghorn’s insistence to study teacher recruitment and retainment. There are no presently teaching teachers on the task force. These members are political appointees and the two who have taught haven’t in several decades.

A new state superintendent will be elected this November and one candidate running does not yet have the qualifications to run and no teaching experience. She has never stood in front of a classroom. I pray she will not meet the qualifications in November because in our state, she will be elected because so many people vote straight party ballots.

If education is fully funded in South Carolina this year, it will be the first time in over a decade.

If you want to know what is wrong with education try something different and it is not a task force. Ask a teacher and involve frontline teachers in problem solving…something we’ve really never done and probably won’t. Until then we will exclaim with pride, “Thank goodness for Mississippi.”

To sum up, a quote from former teaching peer, Brent Boiling, “Teachers at *** used to be like gourmet chefs…. creative and free to do their jobs as professionals. Now they’re McTeachers.”

Don Miller’s author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR1pVsy-a3ZtRJ98EGHW-xrQS0R-IUosd_iDVGMICpugfL0tbofyolue8Yw

Black History…American History….

“Black history is indeed American history, but it is also world history.”
― Angela Y. Davis, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle

In the early days of the Obama years, I first got the dreaded “When are you going to teach white history?” question as soon as Black History Month began, and I discussed what I might be teaching.  We are in the second year of the second administration since and the same people are making the same asinine statements or asking the same asinine questions. 

I will be disgusted because many asinine statements will come from former students, teaching peers, and friends I want to respect but find that I can’t.  We can agree to disagree but not on racism, covert or overt. White is the default, a preselected option. When it is not, we can move on from Black History Month.

I question the motives of folk who comment negatively about Black History Month and wonder if the ghost of George Wallace or Strom Thurmond haunts them. I have seen social memes and comments that have included “When is White America going to have a Month?” “Black History Month is Racist!” “Why do we have to have a Black History Month?”

An answer to the last question, in a perfect world, YOU WOULDN’T have Black History Month. Nor would you have Women’s History Month, in March, a Native American Heritage Month, in November, a Hispanic Heritage Month beginning in the middle September or any of the others that you can take the time to look up. Unfortunately, we are not, nor have we been, living in a perfect world. To quote a former student, “We celebrate white history in all months that don’t begin with F.” I agree with my student and believe any child should be made to feel included.

Examples of it not being a perfect world include protest, verbal and physical, over CRT, kneeling football players, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and The 1619 Project, a book I am presently reading. Parents are outraged over naked mice in Maus and language that they themselves use when yelling down school board members. Examples of an imperfect world date to when “We hold these to be self-evident, all men are created equal” was written. Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution were both an ideal and a lie and evidence of an imperfect world when they were first penned.

As a retired, high school history teacher I know history books are written from a decidedly European-American point of view…well…at least where I taught, a deeply red, conservative state. A state that almost required D. W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” as required viewing, along with Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” and Walter Raleigh’s “Ivanhoe” as required reading. I find little has changed in the time since I retired as it relates to most non-European-American history.

During a year, Asian-Americans are mentioned a few times.  Transcontinental Railroad, the Chinese Exclusion Act and Gentleman’s Agreement, the Japanese involvement in World War Two and China goes communist, Korea and Vietnam.

Hispanic contributions, a bit more. Spanish colonization, the Mexican-American War, Imperialism, Pancho Villa, and then a jump to NAFTA and the question “Why are they taking our jobs?” Wait, we fixed that one, didn’t we? Since I’ve retired, I’m sure illegal immigration is a topic. Notice, these are all mostly decidedly negative when viewed from a white European point of view and not a celebration at all.

Native Americans are prominent but disappear after Wounded Knee unless you happen to bring them back up in the Sixties with the many social movements. Again, until recently, Custer’s Last Stand was viewed as a glorious massacre, brave men falling to war painted heathens. Damn Redskins stepping on our Manifest Destiny and the only good Indian…! I digress.  The Washington Football Team, formally Redskins and now Commanders, cured all those ills. (Said with sarcasm)

I rarely taught Black history exclusively during Black History Month. I was wrong. I deluded myself into thinking that I taught EVERYONE’S HISTORY ALL YEAR LONG and didn’t need to focus on a Black History Month. It wasn’t until late in my career that I began to assess what I had taught. I’m not happy.

Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Harriett Tubman, Fredrick Douglass, W.E.B Dubois versus Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King and maybe Malcomb X. There were others but most were only related to certain peculiar aspects of African American lives and American history. A decidedly important aspect but besides George Washington Carver and Langston Hughes, there was nothing about other contributions.

Why didn’t I teach other aspects of Black culture and history? Because I hadn’t been taught Black culture and history. During my college days, Black culture and history were after thoughts…not even after thoughts. I grew up in a segregated society that had just begun to transition as I entered college. I did run across an African Studies course as I finished my specialist’s degree thirty years later, but I did not enroll.

Black History Month should be viewed as an opportunity to spotlight contributions by African Americans. It should focus on the less obvious, not just slavery, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights.

Musicians, artists, writers, poets, inventors, explorers, scientists, businesspeople, soldiers, etc. should be spotlighted. It should be an opportunity for us all to learn. As I have learned, Black History is American History and a rich, patriotic history at that.

Three years before my second retirement were teaching “cultural” geography. I loved it. One, I had no end of school testing pressure and could go off on any tangent I desired to go off on. I could be creative and allow creativity from my students. It became about cultural diversity, really teaching everyone’s history and culture, all year long. I would like to think my best efforts as a teacher came during those three years.

A paragraph I wrote in one of my many musings sums up my feelings, “Today I look toward diversity as a smorgasbord of delights. I believe we should just focus on how diversely different people party. How can you be distrustful of people who produce such wonderful food? Or music, or art, or etc….. My life without Latin, Soul, Asian, and Cajun foods would not be life-ending, but life would not be as joyous, especially without a Belgian, Mexican, Jamaican, or German beer, a Mojito, or some Tennessee whiskey to go with it and a Cuban cigar for afterward. We should play some Blues, Reggae, Blue Grass, or a little Zydeco to help the atmosphere along. It is just as easy to focus on the positives about diversity as it is the negatives and again with knowledge comes understanding.”

I am a social liberal swimming in a red sea of conservatism and make no excuses for my beliefs. I don’t believe books should be banned or that CRT is being forced down our children’s throats by liberal teachers who hate America.

I believe that the rights that someone else is given do not take my rights away from me including the right to celebrate Black History Month…or Cinco De Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day for that matter. In fact, I have joined in and by doing so believe I am not only a better American but a better human.

I know my quote by Angela Y. Davis will rankle some folk. Yes, she is a Communist and yes, she was arrested for the crime of murder…and acquitted by an all-white jury I might add. She is also a lesbian and a liberal university professor. Many will discount anything I said because I used her quote. In this case it is about the message not the messenger. Black history is world history.

Don Miller’s Author’s Page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0mzivK_bmnTjG4D9RL1KGMQ4TurZ8y7hrFca8ExoRa_XmkEUStmSylMCc

Memories Revisited…

“One minute, you’re young and fun. And the next, you’re turning down the stereo in your car to see better” –Unknown

Who were these guys? I arrived late to the table and questioned, “How did you guys get so old?” I had made the hour drive to the restaurant thinking of those thrilling days of yesteryear, seeing them as the young men from forty years ago. Young men, full of piss and vinegar, with all their hair in my mind’s eye. Except Stan, Stan never had hair. Obviously, my mind’s eye needs some corrective lenses.

There were nine of us, eight retired coaches and one of our former players.  It had been the player’s idea. An impromptu reunion. I don’t know how many great ideas John has had during his life, but this was assuredly one of the better ones.

We had lived life like dysfunctional brothers for most of a decade and stayed connected for the three decades since. Clay, the head coach and athletic director. Carroll, the secondary coach, and basketball coach. Stan, the offensive line coach, wrestling coach, and later head coach and athletic director after my time. Max, a former player who could coach anything and helped me with the defense when he wasn’t calling plays for the offense. Cooper, the defensive line coach, resident comedian, and Precious Pup. Larry, our JV coach who would become a successful head coach in his own right. Mike, the trainer, and highly successful wrestling coach. John the wide receiver, punter, and wrestler we coached so long ago who went on to a college career before a continuing career as a successful human. Oh, I forgot. There was Don, the linebacker and defensive end coach.

Around the table there were jokes and laughter, stories that had been told before, with embellishment, I’m sure. There was catching up and a bit of talk about those we have lost over the years. Most of our conversations wound from our own craziness to the kids we coached or taught and their craziness. “Do you remember” began many of our conversations.

We were young coaches and teachers in the middle Seventies, in our mid-twenties to early thirties. Some of us fresh out of college were closer in age to our kids than our peers. We became seasoned quickly and somehow never quite gave up our youthful exuberance even as our hair fell out and turned gray. Testosterone ruled the day and sometimes youth is wasted on the young. Many mistakes, many humorous, were made but somehow, we survived and grew into responsible human beings.

There was nothing more important than Friday nights…or preparing for Friday nights and the parties afterward. It was war and losing was an affront to our manhood. One coach described winning as “better than sex.” Sex lasts minutes, winning lasts all week long.

We were a brash, egotistical about our abilities, hardworking, hard partying group. We were the Ivanhoe, King Arthur, and Knights of the Round Table of the football fields. We were Sirs Percival and Galahad seeking our own version of the Holy Grail and fighting opposing knights from the opposite sidelines. Like Percival and Galahad, we never found our Holy Grail, but it didn’t stop us from competing.

There might have been a bit of the wooing of the lovely Rowena or Rebecca but most of us ended up like Brian de Bois-Guilbert, dead on a sword…usually our own sword. It didn’t stop us from trying until marriage and family responsibilities reared their head. I promised not to tell those stories until we were all dead.

As I have become seasoned, or just old, I have come to realize there was much more to those years than the rush of winning football games. There is the rush, but eventually I learned it is about the people. The memories of wins and losses have dimmed over the years but the people…the people in those memories are crystal clear.

It has been almost twenty years since I stood girded for battle on the sidelines of a football field, a whistle or play sheet instead of a sword. I coached the game for thirty years. One might think I would have more ties but in all honestly, I haven’t watched a high school football game live in a decade or more. I’m not motivated. I don’t know the people. I don’t know the players, the coaches, the teachers, and the fans. There are no ties. There is nothing to bind me to the game except my memories.

I am often asked, “What did you do before you retired?” My answer is usually followed by another question, “A teacher and coach?  What did you teach and coach?” Once, I went into a litany of sports and subjects, now I simply say, “Kids, I coached kids.”

It is the memories that bind me to people…to my former students and players like John. It is the memories that bind me to seven balding coaches telling jokes and reminiscing. It is the memories that made it seem like just yesterday I walked off the football field and out of the locker room we once shared.

“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” ― John Banville, The Sea

“Kids don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” —Jim Henson

From left to right, from the floor and around the table: Hank the wonder dog, John Black, Stan Hopkins, Clay Bradburn, Larry Frost, Dennis “Max” Massingille, Don Miller, Cooper Gunby, Mike Frye, Carroll Long

Blog image of Mauldin Football from Gwinn Davis.

Don Miller’s author’s page https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2n75Gfrb8wkA0AlIhcygC4VnZMTaNWVqzVDEqEKQRuMGy9oc8kN4B5l8I

Switch ‘dem Legs

“Suffer the pain of discipline, or suffer the pain of regret.” – Unknown

The young boy-child held a long privet branch, stripped of its leaves, maybe three-eights of an inch at its broken base before tapering to nothing at the “business” end.  It needed to be a “keen hickory” as in “Go out yonder and break me off a keen hickory and be quick about it.”  My grandmother was quite specific concerning her needs…much to my dismay.

The young boy that was me, was hesitant but even his young brain realized that waiting was only postponing the inevitable…and possibly making things worse. My legs were going to be switched no matter how long I waited and often the wait was worse than the punishment.

Punishment was to be swift and the question, “should the punishment fit the crime,” was never asked.  It was to be corporal and somewhat “Old Testament.”  “Spare the rod, spoil the child” was a guiding principle.

Rarely was I sent to my room without my supper, never did I stand with my nose in the corner.  Discipline was a thick privet brach applied to the bare legs.  Whelps that faded quickly while the lessons did not…may be.  All were accompanied by “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” and while it was being administered, “quit that cryin’ fore I give you a reason to cry.”

Spare the rod…” actually never appears in the Bible but my Nannie had memorized Proverbs it seems.  Six verses speak to disciplining children with a rod in Proverbs beginning with Prov 13:24: “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him often” and ending with Prov 29:15: “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” All from the King James version of course.

My parents were shift workers at a nearby textile plant and my care along with my brother’s and three girl-child cousins’ were primarily in the hands of my grandmother.  Care and discipline along with many life lessons.

We would spend the night at my grandparent’s house and would spend the morning and early afternoon with them until my parents returned from their first shift work or their morning sleep when they worked the third shift.  I only mention this to emphasize that we had ample opportunity to run afoul of my grandmother’s wrath…or a lesson or five. 

Not to say I couldn’t incur the wrath of my parents, I did, but it was different.  The line I had to toe with my parents seemed a bit more crooked than the line my grandmother had etched in the sand.  Her line was a sharp, thin line like the crease on a Marine’s dress trousers. Not to say my parents weren’t disciplinarians, they were.  But they took a different tack. 

My father was a talker, an explainer…a pontificator reminiscent of a Southern diplomat stumping for reelection.  Many times I thought, “Please get to the beating, you are killing me.”  He would eventually, a thin belt across the buttocks, done with a purpose but without any emotion other than disappointment.  His disappointment might have been the most painful of all.

My mother…her’s was a reaction to emotion…and her first emotion was raging anger.  She was the stereotype of the explosive Scot Irish redhead.  She went off like twenty sticks of dynamite, swiftly and violently, and then it was over.  The whelps might last a bit longer and some may not have landed where she aimed, others might be a bit weepy with blood.  By today’s standards, the word abuse might have been used but this was a different time.

If you are over fifty and reading this, my guess is you can relate.  If you are over fifty and from the Bible Belt I know you can relate.  Corporal punishment was, maybe is, the Southern way but it is not the only way.  As I’ve gotten older I wonder if it was just an easy way to address the behavior without the cause.

Understand, I hold no deep seated animosity for the discipline I received and am reasonably well adjusted. Any maladjustments were not due to the “whoopins'” I received. While the discipline was swift so were demonstrations of love and when I heard, “Now Donnie, this is for your own good” deep down I knew they were correct.

I began my teaching career in the last decade or so of teacher dispensed corporal punishment and while I dispensed many “licks” with a wooden paddle, I was never comfortable with it.  Early on, I learned I had a good bit of my mother in me and that punishment, like revenge, was best served cold and without a side dish of anger.  I’m proud I had this revelation.  I tried to become a happy medium between my mother and father…no, I became my father complete with pontification.

I was once assigned a classroom across from the principal’s office.  The principal was an imposing woman, the best principal I ever had.  When a male student ran afoul of the system her secretary would step into my classroom and inform me, “Ms. Koon needs your assistance.”  Those were code words that I needed to administer a paddling.

I found those paddlings much easier to administer because I was emotionally detached.  Three firm licks across the buttocks of a young man who hadn’t made me mad.  There was no “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you,” lie. 

Some I can remember that make a smile cross my face.  One crawled across Ms. Koon’s desk while I was in my backswing.  “Come on, I haven’t even hit you yet.”  Another, I found had padded his backside with notebooks.  Chortle.

I hear assurances that what is wrong with America is we have gotten away from “whoopin’ our youngins’.”  I don’t know.  I believe there is an absence of limits and discipline being taught but discipline takes many forms beginning with teaching what is right or wrong and what is expected.  We seem to lack self-discipline.

I spanked my daughter once.  Not even a spanking, a light tap on a bare leg.  I don’t remember what it was over and it doesn’t matter.  She cried like I had hit her with a rock.  I’d like to think her tears were over being disappointed that she had disappointed me.  I think we are a lot alike in that area.  Most of my pain was not from the rod but from realizing I had disappointed my parents or grandparents or teachers.  I had fallen short of their expectations.

Deep down I wanted to be the perfect child and repeatedly, due to my lack of self-discipline, fell short.  I hope they forgave me for my many transgressions.  Hopefully, I made them proud. 

My dearest Ashley, you did not fall short.  You were almost a perfect child.  You have made me proud.

***

Don Miller is a retired teacher and coach who writes on many subjects, fiction and non-fiction. His author’s page may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR3vG_2EfWcuXYSOufYCAOFURnisANCQjCQITPrds5zWwlSO8MKkBqFFhJo

Cruel and Unusual

“The children start school now in August. They say it has to do with air-conditioning, but I know sadism when I see it.” ― Rick Bragg, My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South

My soon to be five-year-old boy-child grandbaby sat in the middle of the driveway painting a frog as his father was finishing up mowing grass.  A big grin erupted from his face as we pulled up.  I suspect the grin was more for his life-sized play toy, Grand Momi Linda, than for his Popi. 

Noli, short for Nolan, was barefooted, a perpetual condition regardless of atmospheric temperature.  It was a cool afternoon, but I can hear a soft Southern voice in my head say, “The boy just don’t like to be incumbered by the unnecessary”…and had he been left to his own devises would have been out of most if not all of his clothing.   The big grin on his face made it all okay.  Boy, you are going to be trouble with a capital T. 

As I looked at his water-colored painting, I realized he had been left to his devises as it applied to creativity.  Noli had chosen some interesting color schemes.  The frog he was painting was an escapee from an LSD trip it seemed, or a taco fueled dream. 

During this ten-minute period in his life, the boy is into his painting, but I doubt I have another “Grand Master” on my hands…unless a color-blind Salvador Dali might be a grand master. 

“Noli, that sho is an interesting looking frog.  Pretty!  Never seen one with a blue eye and a purple eye.”  Not to mention multi-colored spots. 

Noli just grinned and continued to add paint. 

“What is that sticking out of his head?  I’ve never seen antennas on a frog.”

Noli got hit by a photon and leaving his artwork on the driveway, ran to get his Spiderman playground ball.  So much for the budding artist.  Now it was superhero time.

Spiderman is a big deal…Noli has all the “Spidee” poses down pat.  I vaguely I remember tying a towel around my neck and flying from one twin bed to the other ala George Reeves as Superman.  That acorn might have landed close when it fell from my tree. Much can be said for imagination.

Both my grandbabies operate at one speed.  Wide open in daredevil mode.  Miller Kate the seven-year-old first grader and Noli the soon to be five-year-old will begin kindergarten in August unless Covid has closed us down again. 

I’m not sure I would want to be the teacher who has to channel their energy into something educational…especially with the siren’s call of warm August sunshine just outside the window.  I agree with Rick Bragg.

It is sadistic for a five-year-old to sit in a desk for long periods of time in August…or mid-January.  I pray for a creative teacher fostering a love for readin’, ‘ritin’, and ‘rithmatic.  A teacher who nurtures his or her children’s creative streaks.  A teacher who channels their own inner Peter Pan.

They both love doing.  Not much for sittin’ and their parents have done a good job of limiting their “screen” exposure.  The outdoors is their siren’s call, running, jumping, riding bicycles, splashing in the one mud puddle in their yard. 

I have a picture of a much younger Miller Kate standing in a flooded church parking lot after a drenching thunderstorm.  Barefooted in her new dress, ankle deep in water with her Grand Momi also barefooted in her own dress clothes.  Grand Momi never let Peter Pan die and I’m sure it was her idea to go wading.

Yes, August can be cruel and unusual punishment…as can early April with its seductive spring temperatures calling out for children to run barefooted in the newly immerging grass.  Hard to sit still in a schoolhouse desk with so much fun waiting just outside.

I remember those days when Peter Pan was holding on by his last grasp.  Shut up in a classroom, but at least there were big, tall, open windows to look out of.  Morning recess and what seemed to be a long afternoon lunch period to look forward to.  A brief afternoon recess just to get the kinks out. 

The best part of the school day.  Tall swings to practice your landings with a tuck and roll, see saws, and a spinning contraption that would send you rolling into next week if you lost your grip.  Playing “crack the whip” and “king of the mountain”, somewhat violent games now banned.  Bumps and bruises we somehow survived, laughing all the way back to the classroom. 

Somehow it prepared us for the afternoon “see Dick run” reading period, cyphering our numbers, or writing with “big, fat” pencils in a wide lined notebook.  Physical stimulation seems to help mental stimulation.

Fear of liability has turned the school day from learning opportunities into cruel and unusual punishments.  That, and the need to “stay on task” so that we look good at test time.  I’ve always believed there was more to schoolin’ than just what comes from a book…now, a Chromebook, and how well you do on a standardized test. 

Miller Kate seems to have weathered the storm and I’m sure Noli will too, especially if he keeps his grin. I’m sure that grin will terrorize all ladies regardless of age and regardless of their occupation.

I hope Peter Pan can find a last gasp and take them to a Wonderland of imagination, away from the cruel and unusual punishment. 

***

Don Miller is a retired History and Science teacher and Coach. His author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR2bHfb3dx-hOqW5DoszodDazv8xJDscd0_mpUS-ary5h6NEk6IOJp5St_g

Image is from Canva

AB Dick-less

The older I get the more my senses come into play…provided I still have them.  They trigger memories. Are flashes of the past a sign of getting old?

A sound or smell, a scene formed in the periphery of my vision that is not real…a tune popping up on my playlist causing my senses to work in reverse.  It was Kris Kristofferson singing about, “the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken…And it took me back to somethin’…That I’d lost somehow, somewhere along the way.” It was a Sunday morning as I walked, and I could smell pan fried chicken from sixty years ago.  Triggers. 

“Sunday Morning Comin’ Down” Kris Kristofferson

After my weekly four-and-a-half-mile jaunt with my best friend Hawk,  we stopped by the Tree House for our weekly cup of coffee and probably…more importantly, a stop at a place “Where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”  Cliff and Norm played by Hawk and Don except I don’t know which character is which.

There was a scent of something chemical in the air, probably a cleaning fluid. They clean every day first thing, and we are the first to arrive most Fridays. Hygiene is important and they are very hygienic.  The aroma wasn’t a bad smell, the opposite, a trigger to an all too familiar smell from a time long ago, duplicating fluid.  Familiar if you began your teaching career while dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

Sitting in our reserved spot, just like Norm and Cliff, our conversation turned toward a former teaching chum who is deathly ill, but I found it hard to concentrate.  Flashes of forty plus years of teaching came into view in between the thoughts we shared. Strange flashes. The Twilight Zone of test making.

Norm and Cliff on Cheers sing Lollipop

The clackity rhythm of an old Royal or Remington typewriter followed by the ding of a bell.  I had my tempo and then the long curse when I hit the h before the t in the word the…or with…or thought….  Correction fluid, its own smell familiar.  More blue ink everywhere but where it needed to be.  More cursing. 

Arriving early to school and sprinting to the copying room to find a half dozen teachers stacked up in a holding pattern waiting for the only copying machine needing to be filled with duplicating fluid because the secretary could not be found.  She had the only key to the storage room and had been kidnapped it seemed.  For some reason duplicating supplies had to be guarded as if they were gold coins.  The semester reckoning, a sit down with Sybil or Flogene, “Coach Miller do you realize you used x number of reams of paper? You are killing too many trees.” Our secretaries only used my title when I had been a bad boy.

Donated Copy Paper to the School My teacher was greatly appreciative. true  story. - Barney StinsonHIMYM | Meme Generator
The Meme Generator

The cycling sound of the drum of the AB Dick duplicating machine as it spun to the timing of your hand crank, kah-thunk, kah-thunk, kah-thunk. A paper jam followed by blue ink, more on you than on paper.  How many shirts did I ruin?  Students raising the fresh, still damp mimeographed papers to their noses and inhaling deeply.  Strange flashes, indeed.

r/MovieDetails - In Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Mr. Hand passes out the class schedule of quizzes. After the paper is passed out, the students put the page up to their noses and deeply inhale. This was a popular school ritual of the 60s,70s and early '80s because the transfer agent for the ink …
From “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”

There were other flashes.  The tap, tap, tap sound of yellow chalk on a green board.  The history teacher who wrote notes with one hand and erased them just as quickly with the other.  God help you if you dropped your pencil, you might lose an entire historical era as you frantically searched.  Choking on chalk dust, the new piece of chalk making the long screech.  Students covering their ears and screeching their own discomfort.

I remember shoe taps on hardwood floors along with the acrid smell of red sawdust used to clean and keep the dust down.  Do they build schools with hardwood anymore?

Teachers have moved on from those days.  Computers and smartboards have replaced the need for copied tests, typewriters, and chalkboards.  There is software that can grade five sets of tests in the time you can scan them and hit enter.  Chromebooks have replaced the book bag filled with heavy textbooks.  White boards and dry erase have eliminated hair raising screeches. Zoom classes and virtual learning have become parts of the teacher’s tool bag.

Lecture Memes. Best Collection of Funny Lecture Pictures
Meme

Please don’t assume I’m insinuating teaching is easier.  I am most assuredly not.  While I loved teaching, no amount of money in the world would bring me out of retirement.  I taught in a simpler time…even when I retired six years ago, it was simpler than today…and I am a dinosaur…as much a dinosaur as the AB Dick Copier.  I am happy to be AB Dick…less.

Grading test in a simpler time…

Don Millers ramblings can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR0x9B8Ym-4Eaqr1jiiLb8bE8e8HQyqjxJ4Tus5v-Cy1TJ00oE28k3EdhGM

Featured image is of an AB Dick 8200. AB Dick filed for bankruptcy in 2005.

A Square Peg in a World of Round Holes

 

Social media can be exasperating but it does allow me to stay in touch with former teaching peers and students…all from the comfort of my den and recliner.

A student I had not interacted with for a while chimed in on a post and brought a huge smile to my face.  I spent the day thinking of square and round pegs and the holes they don’t fit into.

She was a slender, wisp of a girl.  Cute, with long dark hair and large matching brown eyes behind huge dark-framed glasses.  Dressed in her school uniform she looked just like any of the twenty or so students that met in my geography class.  I’m sure if she had been allowed to wear clothes of her own choosing, she might have dressed as a neo-hippy or in goth black.  She was a square peg in a class of round holes.

The classes were small, and the course of study was anything I wanted to make of it.  I had died and gone to teacher nirvana.  There were no standards to teach to, no end of course testing to prepare them for.  For a teacher on the backend of his career, it was almost like being semi-retired…almost.

I had been employed to teach geography and with carte blanche, I decided to make it cultural geography focusing more on the who and what than the where of geography.  Project-based; it would allow students controlled by the right side of their brains to express their creativity.  It would also provide great opportunities for “controlled” arguments.  I found her often to be in a not so silent minority as I attempted to control arguments that ran wildly off the rails.

She was a square peg in a world full of round holes in a class filled with round pegs.  We had just started up a new charter school, a “middle college” program that allowed students to take dual credit, giving them the opportunity to graduate with both a high school diploma and a college associate degree.  Free college credit…well, free on the taxpayer’s dime and Warren Buffet seed money.

The makeup of the school was interesting, to say the least.  Former homeschoolers, Christian schoolers, and malcontents crushed into the melting pot that was my geography class.  More than once I found myself on the left side of discussions even though I considered myself middle of the road.

I had a suspicion most of my students thought I might be standing shoulder to shoulder with Karl Marx when all I was attempting was to get them to realize that most arguments had two sides.  My little square peg was definitely on the left side of the arguments.

As I thought about her, I realized, I really like the kids that tended to wander down their paths of life.  Remember, “all who wander are not lost”, and you can’t get lost if you don’t know where you are going.  As I have grown older I found I related better to the “lost on purpose” folks than to those who were in lockstep together.

I didn’t always think that way.  My early days of teaching as I did “on the job training” were a different time, a time when history and social studies were equal parts course of study and propaganda.  We were still carrying around the pre-Watergate and Cold War “My Country! Right or Wrong” baggage.  The culture was changing but the old status quo was holding on with a death grip…and still is.

We didn’t seem to care much about modes of learning or personality profiles in my early career.  In those days we tended to try and knock the edges off the square pegs and force them into “our” round holes using our five-pound hammers and wooden paddles.  Thankfully those days have passed…they’ve passed, right?

As I talked to a mentor about one of my early square pegs, she schooled me, “They think with the right side of the brain and are not always logical to those of us controlled by our left side.  If we can get them out of high school, they will do fine.”  I think Mrs. Leatherwood was on to something.

As I look back on my own evolution, I find that it was those square pegs that made teaching interesting…more interesting. They brought a refreshing breeze into the classroom…and outside it too.  The little boy who tried to fly his hang glider off the hill at the football stadium, the crazy smart kid who came up with a plan to “streak” the “halls of education” his senior year (It was nipped in the bud before it came to fruition, saving his career).  Even the ones who filled a fifty-gallon trashcan on top of the gym foyer before painting it as a Budweiser beer can.

Inside the classroom, they were more comfortable with art and poetry than the Third Law of Thermodynamics.  They were the headbangers or want to be actors.  As painful as their creativity could be, it was refreshing.  Many times, I was forced to be the disciplinarian when what I really wanted to do was laugh.

For clarification, I enjoyed my little right-wing fascist too, and honestly tried to be a mediator rather than an indoctrinator.  I tried to argue both sides of arguments and reframed from making my political stances known…some things you just can’t hide though.

As I texted back and forth, I realized my little square peg would never wish to go back to her high school days.  Part of me thought it was a shame, another part of me is cheering her on.  I would not want to return to my high school days either.

My mentor, Mrs. Leatherwood, was correct, my little square peg is simply fine in the world she is making for herself.  Throwing clay and making art in her off-hours, she is still a square peg in a world of round holes, but she seems comfortable with it.  I’m sure she will face many forks on her path and not always make the right choice.  But I think she is comfortable with the making of mistakes all humans make.  See, all who wander are not lost.

Thanks for the smile you left me with.

***

Don Miller is a retired teacher and coach who has taken up the art of writing badly in his retirement.  His author’s page can be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM?fbclid=IwAR350Q1Jn0cOSjibk-4UScnGT9xKCp27KjrSuWxp1RymNShmpgGq04zrDF8

The image is from https://the-art-of-autism.com/the-shape-shift-square-pegs-dont-fit-into-round-holes/

 

Deep Impact

 

If you hope to be successful in life there are people who impact you.  I don’t know how successful I was but I certainly had people who guided me, mentored me, people I wanted to emulate.  Marilyn Koon Hendrix had the impact of a pile driver as far as my life is concerned.

I don’t know what I expected.  I didn’t know how a principal was supposed to act, but “Koon” certainly wasn’t what I expected.  She was a friend, a mother figure…maybe a god figure.  She was the standard I measured all other principals by.

She was certainly the queen of her realm.  Everyone knew who was in charge but not in a heavy-handed way.  No one would accuse her of being a micromanager.  She wanted to lead, taking you along because you wanted to go, not dragging you along because you had to go.

Mrs. Hendrix allowed you to teach or coach in your own way.  She was comfortable allowing you to learn by making mistakes, backing you the first time and expecting you to gain wisdom and not repeat the mistake.  I made plenty of mistakes those first few years and she made sure I learned from them.  My wisdom?  I made sure I didn’t make the same mistake again.

Koon was a big woman or maybe I should say, she had a big presence.  She cast a huge shadow, bigger than life.  To me, she was an Amazon in every way. A deep raspy voice and a hardy laugh she liked to use.  Koon worked hard and she played hard, she expected the same for those who worked under her.  She had an “if it ain’t fun, I ain’t wantin’ to do it” attitude and her attitude translated to all around her.  I tried to adopt her attitude throughout my career, always trying to find fun in what I was doing.

I was young and impressionable trying to soak up as much knowledge and wisdom as I possibly could.  I was a twenty-three or four-year-old child who couldn’t bear the idea of disappointing his parents or Ms. Koon…although I’m sure I did.

The youthful me was “country come to town” when I entered her office for my interview.  It was a casual affair…a sit down on the couch, she in her rocking chair.  A let’s get to know you kind of interview.  I found out we grew up in the same county, she the “huge” metropolis of Lancaster, me in a wide place in the road near a cow patty, eighteen miles north.

I’ve often looked back on that moment.  I’ve often wondered what she saw in an immature hayseed from Indian Land, but she offered me a job teaching Physical Science and coaching and my life’s course had been set.

As the interview ended, I remember she leaned in as if to tell me a secret, instead asking a question, “Do you think you can work for a woman?”  An odd question in today’s era but this was the early Seventies and she was the first female principal in Greenville County.  I wanted the job badly and would have worked for an Orangutan.  No, I never said such and working for a woman was no problem.  Working for Koon was a joy of a lifetime.

If you are successful there are usually one or two people who impact you.  I was lucky…I had many impactful role models just at Mauldin, many who never realized their effect on my life.  Many who are now gone but not forgotten.

I was fortunate, I got to tell Marilyn how much she meant to me a year or so ago.  One person I didn’t get to tell was Jay Lunceford who passed too quickly to tell.  I find it particularly ironic to have learned of Marilyn’s passing on the anniversary of Jay’s.

Saddening but then the memories come flooding in.  I’m not sure how we survived to have memories.  God takes care of the young and stupid.  Oh, the stories I could tell but won’t…some of the people involved are still alive.

Koon will be missed but she’ll never really die either.  I have too much love.  Too many people owe her much…much love.  Too many people have the warm glow you associate with the warm morning sun and with Koon.

I have hopes she and Jay have met up somewhere in the cosmos, telling tales, laughing with each other, reminding us of what it was to be a Mauldin Maverick back in the day. “Do you remember when….”  You bet I do.

Koon, I’ll miss you, but I’ll still be laughing with you, telling tales of those days…the good old days.

***

Clarification:  Jay Lunceford was the head football coach and athletic director at Mauldin High School…and the father figure to Marilyn’s mother figure.  He too had a significant impact on my life.  Unfortunately, he passed way too soon in the late Seventies due to a brain tumor.  I believe he was thirty-two.

Don Miller writes on various subjects and his author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The image is from an old yearbook.  Marilyn Koon Hendrix when she was still Marilyn Koon.  I pray she’s not looking down pointing a finger at me.

A Question of Education

 

I apologize ahead of time.  This may be meandering pig trail, but I feel the need to speak out.  Sorry for the ramble.

My state capital, Columbia, SC, will host a rally for educational reform on May 1st.  A similar rally is being held on the same date in North Carolina and will mirror other rallies that have been held in other states.  I am a retired teacher and feel I should go.  But I can’t.  It is a debate I have had with myself for the past week but I just can’t go.

I’m not the only one debating but at least my debate is with myself.  The Governor has made his feelings known as has the Superintendent of Education.  They are not fans of #ALLOUT…and they will not receive my vote next time around.  Various local superintendents and district spokesmen have made their feelings known and I am not a fan of them either but being retired means I don’t have to work for them or play nice.

What really bothers me is the attitude of everyday South Carolinians.  The rally has been characterized as a “walkout” for better pay by its opponents and maligned by them.  I’ve seen all the arguments.  My favorites are “You knew what you were getting into and if you don’t like it get some other job” and the biggest lie in the world, “You get three months off in the summer and still get paid for it.”

First of all, it’s not a walkout.  You know how South Carolina dislikes anything suggesting a strike.  Teachers are using their personal days or paying for their own subs, and while better pay is an issue, the issues go much deeper than pay…although having to take on a second job to pay for the day you’re taking to go protest is an issue…there I said it.  A protest…but I’ll keep calling it a rally.

The rally is about reducing class sizes, reducing standardized testing and having to teach to the test, not being allowed to teach to anything but standards, not feeling safe or supported in their classrooms, not having the materials to do the job teachers are called to do…not that I really know what that is anymore.  So…keep thinking it is just about pay.

Most importantly, it’s a rally about respect and support, something teachers have lost through no fault of their own.  Something our politicians have given no more than lip service to recently…if ever and which statements like “You knew what you were getting into…” exemplifies.

I am a product of the South Carolina public school system, a product of in-state colleges. I taught in the South Carolina public school systems for forty-five years.  I never considered it a job.  I knew I had been called to teach.

I have been fully retired for four years and it seems a lifetime ago that I last set foot in a classroom.  I saw many changes through the years, a few were good and those that were were fostered by actual educators, even if it was at the request of a politician.

“No Child Left Behind” was not one of the good changes.  The decline in teacher moral escalated with “No Child Left Behind” and the constant testing, teaching to the test, and meeting about the test “ad nauseam.”

Not that “No Child Left Behind” is the only culprit.  South Carolina ranks near the bottom of a bunch of national statistics, education is just one of them.  We rank forty-eighth out of fifty-one in education by pretty much everyone’s ratings.  Fifty states plus the District of Columbia for those who wonder about my own education.

I hang my head wondering how we got that way…oh yeah, we’ve been that way.  I blame it on what I call our “Cotton Mill Mentality” and our Southern desire to maintain a cheap and uneducated workforce.  Too harsh?  Sometimes the truth is just that.

I began attending school in the Fifties, during the hay day of cotton textiles.  Unfortunately, I began teaching as cotton textiles were in decline, finally lost to cheaper foreign labor.

Cotton textiles were a great educational tool for the Carolinas and other Southern states.  Fine people who were not academically inclined could graduate, or not, and still find a position at one of the local cotton mills; make a living, provide for their families and most importantly it seemed, pay taxes.

Unfortunately, those opportunities fled the South and our political leaders were slow to realize that our educational system had to change to meet modern job descriptions.  This was despite warnings issued from educators  I heard as far back as the early Eighties.  I believe we are still paying for that mindset and waiting for cotton textiles to come back.

We have yet to recognize the effect of an educational system hamstrung by backward thinking.   An educational system crippled by politicians and a tax base that refuses to pay for any meaningful change.  A system that is politically driven and slow to involve educators in the process.

An educational system injured by a belief that education is really not important and why do I have to pay when I don’t have a child in school…or why should I worry about what is happening in the I-95 corridor if I live in the upstate.

Recently it seems another fear has emerged from our strongly conservative base, a fear that teachers are teaching liberalism and socialism, turning all our students into little communists.  It seems that to protest or rather rally helps to stoke those fears.

Teachers are asked to do more and more with less and less.  More testing, more planning for testing, more collaboration about testing.  More time pouring over statistics trying to analyze test results you are not allowed to see.

Less time to prepare for the actual class.  Paying for materials out of their own pockets or doing without.  Open disrespect and a lack of support.  This what the rally is about and if it inconveniences someone…well good.

More teachers are leaving the profession and fewer students are picking education as a life’s work.  Why would they?  Fewer teachers mean more students per class which means less time.  If you believe the student per teacher ratio means anything, I’ve got some land I’d like to sell you.

Curriculum requirements have changed but the time to teach all that is needed has decreased.  Fewer resources, less time to do their jobs. Less time for teachers to make a meaningful dent in the problems facing our youth in a modern world…a world they didn’t create but will have to pay for.

Who suffers in all this…besides the teacher?  The one most significant change I suffered as class sizes crept up was a loss of contact with students.  I didn’t get as close to my students because I didn’t have the time to get close to my classes.  I didn’t get to find out what was bothering Bobbi Jo or Tyrek.  I tried, but it just isn’t possible.  Someone slides through the cracks.  That might be the greatest loss of all.

Okay, I guess I have ranted enough.  I pray for positive change.  Our children are our futures…they are our legacies.  They deserve our best efforts and teachers deserve the tools to make those efforts…they deserve the respect.

I should be there, marching, “rallying”, channeling my inner hippie…my inner liberal…my inner communist. LOL.

The picture is from the Post and Courier, Charleston, SC

For further ramblings please follow my author’s page at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

 

Musings of a Retired Teacher

“It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said. “Have you thought of going into teaching?” ― Terry Pratchett, Mort

The quote comes from a fantasy novel written by Terry Pratchett in 1986 and took me on one of those silly pig trails I sometimes travel down.  Twisting and winding through briar patches and blackberry brambles, my trail is strewn with rocks and roots just waiting to trip me or rip me to shreds…just like teaching.

Tomorrow, around the foothills of the Blue Ridge, teachers will report to their schools for their first day with students.  The mushy portion of my brain will fool me into thinking I should be there with them.

I taught full time for forty years.  Almost a half years’ worth of teacher workdays, days that we really got little work done as it related to the students we would meet on our first day.  In-services on dress codes, discipline, bloodborne pathogens, safety issues, textbooks, teacher accountability, etc.  I don’t want to even imagine what was discussed in this year’s in-services.  Protecting your students in an active shooter situation?  No, I don’t wish to imagine.

Forty-first days of school.  Conservatively, some five thousand smiling faces waiting for me to impart knowledge and wisdom in an interesting, engrossing and riveting way…and be a role model, mentor and in many cases a parental figure.  Another three first days as I taught part-time for three years as a long-term sub.  Even though I’m beginning my third year of full retirement it would be ridiculous to believe I wouldn’t think I should be somewhere at eight o’clock or so tomorrow morning.  Agreed?

Teachers, too, will be smiling as they welcome their new students, despite their apprehensions.  If they are not smiling they should probably think about another profession.  I would say apprehension would be normal too.  I remember forty-three sleep disturbed nights the day before my first day with students as both my apprehension and excitement built.

I worry about my teaching friends and peers.  So much written about public education is negative…and unwarranted.  I’m not sure where education is headed, or society.  I just know teachers are called on to be much more than just teachers, confidants, mentors and parental figures in our modern world…and due to teacher accountability, teaching to the standards and testing, less time to be “everything” to those children…especially those who need it the most.  And yet, teachers are maligned in so many ways by people who have no clue or with multiple axes to grind.  I “summon” you to use such sentiments as your “battle standard.”

There is a reason, or are reasons, why we are experiencing teacher shortages and rapid teacher burn out.  When teachers need more planning and collaborative time they seem to be getting less.  With shortages in numbers of teachers, class sizes can only go up, taxing people who are only human even more.

First-year teachers? Oh my god, your student teaching experience has not prepared you for what you are about to face.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and experienced teachers, please offer it.  Hang in there, teachers have had to learn on the job since there was the first teacher.  If you can survive until Christmas, you’ve got it made…tee, he, he.

In my first attempt at writing badly I shared the following quote from Jim Henson of Kermit fame, “[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”  While I admit to not always knowing what I was, since my retirement from teaching I’ve found the quote to be true.  I wish I had realized such my first year and made the quote my mantra.  I challenge you to remember this quote.

Teaching is much more than teaching and I miss it every day…well, I miss the students every day.  Keep yourself grounded in the knowledge that it’s not teaching the three “R’s” or teaching to the test.  It is about teaching kids.  Don’t be afraid to get close to your students even though some won’t let you.  You will all be better because you tried.  Be proud of the path you have chosen.  I am proud of you all.

There is no greater joy than to run into a former student.  They always tell you, you were their favorite…even if you weren’t.

For more of Don Miller’s musings https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

Image from https://www.teepublic.com/t-shirt/2201031-retired-but-forever-a-teacher-at-heart-t-shirt