November 29 06

i remember it so clearly. in my elementary school, there were two first grade teachers. there was Mrs. Gorman. she was exactly what any child could wish for in a teacher. she was young, pretty, warm, loving. and then there was Mrs. Leib. she was exactly what any child wouldn’t want in a teacher. she was old. and she looked an awful lot like a turtle (in more of a Franklin kind of way than a Meredith Grey kind of way. and for the record…that genius comparison did NOT come from me. it came from the ever so lovely Beck over at Frog and Toad are Friends. love her!). She wasn’t warm. or kind. or friendly. she gave a ton of homework. (and i remember very well – she allowed a boy in my class to have an accident in the classroom because he dared to need to use the bathroom at an inopportune time.)

i’ll give you one guess as to which teacher i had in first grade. i’ve told you all many a time – - – i’m VERY unlucky (although i did win three things in the  [insert company name here] Silent Auction….but really, can you call it winning when you have to pay for the items??? what do you really win? oooh…you win the right to pay for this item! tempting, isn’t it? so tempting that i did it thrice.)

I spent the year in envy of my friends next door. while they were singing and dancing and doing arts and crafts, we were WORKING. and working hard.

When i first took a look at Ms. Paterson (Emily’s JK teacher), i didn’t exactly know what to make of her. She was socially a little awkward, didn’t talk much. She seemed much more the hands-off type than the lovey-dovey type. She was big on routines. on homework. on all kinds of work.

It turns out that Ms. Paterson was the best thing that ever happened to my Emily. She thrived in Ms. Paterson’s class. She needed that teacher who told it like it was, instead of sugar-coating it. She taught Emily to read. and write. and use her mind creatively. She taught her how to infer from the stories she was hearing. she taught Emily how to keep a journal. She taught her to follow routines and to follow instructions. she taught her to learn to hold it in and wait for the right time to go to the bathroom.

She is one FANTASTIC teacher. BUT (and this is a big but. bwah), i’m sure that there are many children who fare better with a different type of teacher. because Emily is just like me, Ms. Paterson was a godsend.

I’m thrilled to pieces that Emily has her again this year for SK and that Joshie has her as well. I wish all kids could benefit from a Ms. Paterson.

and now that i think about it…i did. Mrs. Leib was my Ms. Paterson. and now, more than 20 years later, i can finally appreciate that i had the better teacher all along.

did you vote yet today?

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  1. I had a couple teachers like the ones you describe above early on, and I too feel like they were the best thing for me. But like a lot of subjects, it really is all relative.

    Some students will respond to structure and rules with orderly behaviour and excellent work. For some, the more friendly, hands-on approach will yield better results.

    Another slant on this subject would be the process versus product question. Disregarding the teacher’s demeanour, do they focus on the end result of the efforts (the product – does the work look neat, are the answers right) or are they more fixated on the method used (the process – did the student follow a reasonable approach, did they do it in a timely fashion). Sometimes a teacher who is perceived as a “hard ass” is really a process-oriented educator, and ultimately those are the kind that help their students succeed (at least in my opinion) because to borrow the old adage, if you give someone a fish they eat today; if you teach someone to fish they eat for life.


    Comment by Jeff on November 29, 2006
  2. Wow, you remember your 2nd grade teacher? I don’t even remember who I had in college. Sad huh?!


    Comment by Waya on November 29, 2006
  3. I remember my 1st grade teacher…I did better with the lovey dovey types…(I am a little of both in the classroom) My 1st grade teacher was a bitch. I puked on her shoes. I loved it. She deserved it. I told her I was sick. She didn’t believe me.


    Comment by Janet a.k.a Wonder Mom on November 29, 2006
  4. When my oldest started JK I was TERRIFIED because her teacher was this stern, cold woman. She was going to make my baby MISERABLE, I just knew it.
    She loved her. Her teacher was fantastic – structured with the little ones, but also endlessly creative and fun. No, she wasn’t huggy – but the kids felt LOVED. She had her for SK, too – two very happy years. And guess who The Boy has this year! She’s retiring this spring, and I’m feeling pretty sad that she can’t teach all three – but still. I should probably write her a letter and let her know all this, eh?


    Comment by Beck on November 29, 2006
  5. I voted. :)

    I’m glad Emily and Joshie have a teacher like that. The teachers I remember from my youth were mostly the pretty, nice ones. Or, the one who used to always eat green apples and cappuccino yogurt….The bitchie ones were really bitchie. I wouldn’t want the monkey to have them. I don’t think I ever had a Ms. Paterson….


    Comment by haley-o on November 29, 2006
  6. I, too had a very warm teacher in Grade One. I remember her fondly, Mrs. Miller was her name. As a teacher (Kindergarten), I can truly appreciate this post. My theory is that there are good teacher/student matches and there are “not so good” teacher/student combos. Unfortunately, in JK, there isn’t much you can do about it, BUT, after that, many schools work together in teams to make sure that classes are made for the following year with good teacher/student and student/student matches. Hopefully your children will experience that! In my school, one hot afternoon in June, we sat together in the Library as Primary Division (including Spec. Ed. teachers, librarians, admin etc.) and child by child placed them into a class. It is quite a lengthy and specific process that usually results in a wonderful outcome–classrooms that work out really well for the following year. I am not one to label, but in this case, it helps. EAch child’s name is placed on a yellow sticky note. In each corner of the sticky, you are to put some info about the child (e.g. boy/girl, high/med/low academically, behaviour concern or not, quiet vs not so quiet. This helps keep an appropriate balance in each class. At the end, you can look over the whole class and a get a good idea of the type of group it will be. This also allows good teacher/student matches.


    Comment by Amanda on November 29, 2006
  7. Grey does look like a turtle
    that has been driving me nuts for months.

    Can’t kids go to the washroom when they need to? One more thing to worry about


    Comment by lisa b on November 29, 2006
  8. Thanks for sharing. I keep hoping that every teacher that Michael has will be a good one. Wish me luck…


    Comment by Stacie on November 29, 2006
  9. yes, yes I did


    Comment by Sparky on November 30, 2006
  10. Ephedra sil….

    Ephedra sil….

    Trackback by Ephedra sil. on September 22, 2007

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