Posts Tagged ‘Why We Teach’

A former first grade student of 50 years ago, got in touch to thank me for teaching her how to read and for adding literature to her life. I sat stunned thinking, “I taught her to read. Imagine that.”

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Jake from my initial post Why We Teach, was with me for only one school year so I know what he learned from me is that little pebble tossed into the sea. I sent four of my Wordsworth the Poet children’s books to his young children and today, I received through the mail, a hand written card of thanks from each of his four children along with a drawing of Wordsworth. And another card from Jake.  And this wonder of a young man even purchased four copies of Wordsworth to donate to his daughter’s class. It would have been so easy to email me his acknowledgement but to be a good role model of a parent/teacher,  both parents took  time and effort.  And such joy they brought me. Thank you, Jake. You give me faith in our world that is in turmoil right now.

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A former third grader emailed me recently to thank me for our year together. He also quoted a line I had written in one of his journal entry: You are a fantastic human being.

He sent a copy of one of  his journal entries and my response to him. He is a dentist today, has a beautiful family,  and joy and freedom emanates from each of their faces. He reads his journal even today.

The first is a page written by third grader Jake followed by my response:

Jake’s entry:


This morning  cried in the bathroom and bedroom because

I had a dream that my dad lived with me. When I got up, I

realized he really didn’t live with me so I started to cry. And also

when I see a child playing with their dad, it makes me sad. I just don’t feel

happy inside. I wish my dad lived with me. Because if he did that would really

really make me feel very very happy inside. Don’t you think so?

I think so I really do. And when we talk on the phone we talk about all the

problems and it makes my dad and me feel like we’re very close together

talking.  I really love my dad.


My response to Jake:


I felt very sad reading this. If I had a magic wand, I would use it to make your

dreams come true. But things are not always perfect in our lives. Can you be

happy and satisfied in knowing that even if you and your dad are apart, you both

love each other?

 I can understand how painful it is to see other children with their dads. Think of your

telephone calls at these times. Jake, I’m glad you’re brave enough to write these

things in your journal. You are a fantastic human being.

                 Miss K

 I asked Jake, “What did I do to get such trust from you?”

I also said his ability to be able to express himself to me with such honesty and openness, allowed me to respond without inane clichés.  And courageous and wise Jake rose above his painful  childhood and is raising his family with such love and commitment. His professional practice also includes those in need.

Throughout my teaching career, from grades K- adult, we always began the day with our journals. Before the end of each day, they found my responses, sometimes written in poetic form. After morning recess, they went straight to their journals to read my responses. Some would give me a knowing nod or smile.  It was here that we built our one-to-one relationship. It was here that I got to know each student as an individual. It was here that I checked if anything I “taught” was being understood and used in its most natural form. It was here I reinforced what I taught with my  “Oh, oh, he must have left all his periods at home today.” Or “ Hey, he brought all his punctuation marks with him today. Genius at work. ”  It was here that each knew he or she was my favorite.

There are two relationships in the classroom: a group and an individual. How joyless for both teacher and students to spend all those months in school with a group relationship where one’s personhood is lost in the group.

So yes, it was here that we wrote poems to each other, shared jokes and funny stories and spilled ourselves out in grief and sadness. It was here where each was heard and listened to. It was here I got to know all their individual traits so I could nurture and expand on them.

Thank you, Jake, for reminding us why and how we teach. You are still that fantastic person.





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