Teachers Are Special People
Do you remember some very special teachers in your life? Do you remember what were some of the qualities and characteristics that made some teachers special? What were some qualities and characteristics that caused us to not cherish some of our experiences with some teachers as much as others? Are teachers made? Are teachers created? Are teachers created equally? Are teachers trained? Are teachers sent? Are teachers divine and unique?
- My First Teacher from Above
- My First Teacher on Earth
- Now- you were the starting teacher!
- You Branded Me for Life- In A Good Way
- You Were Different and Beyond the Imagination
- My First Male Teacher!
- A Teacher of Etiquette and Design
- An Expressionless, But Loving Teacher
- You Showed That You Cared!
- You Portrayed A You Can Make It Attitude
- A Teaching Principal
- You Taught Us Discipline in A Tough Way!
- You Showed Us the Importance of Ladylike Qualities
- What Did I Take From Each of My Teachers?
- You Imitate, Copy, Pretend and Imagine!
My First Teacher from Above
We were just young, very young children when we were taught that our first teacher was God. The reason He was our first teacher is because had it not been for him we wouldn't be in this world today.
When you hear this at such a young age, you no doubt believe it. So if He was going to be our first teacher we had to start studying. So I can still remember how it seemed like we all started reading at a young age. Our first read book was the bible. For it was told to us that if we could read out of the bible. we would become very special readers.
My First Teacher on Earth
Then before we ever learned anything about going to school, it was obvious that our parents were our first teachers. After all, when a baby is born it is the family's responsibility to take care of the child, teach the child and raise that child to the best of their ability. This meant that there were some things that every child should know. So people begin by helping the family to think of critical things to teach. "What is your name?" "How old are you?" "Do you want to eat?" "Are you wet?" "Do you need to use the bathroom?
Then it goes on to helping to teach the child about love, family love, sharing, cleaning up, putting away, taking turns and on to colors, shapes, etc.
Now- you were the starting teacher!
Wow, my first grade teacher seem to like being a teacher. But I'm not sure how much warmth she showed us young students. We were in her classroom to learn, and there was no tolerance for foolishness. I can remember whenever she stepped out of the classroom she found the need to select class monitors. Really class monitors were squealers, sometimes liars, and some times retaliators. I never did understand why she would give another first grader such power to use against us classmates. One time I remember a classmate telling the teacher that I was talking when she left out of the room. I was not and did not want to challenge the student in the presence of the teacher. As a matter of fact I really could not understand why this was necessary. But then I thought if it is ever my turn to be the monitor, I am going to tell on him for sure. But when it was my turn I told the truth- I couldn't do it any other way.
You Branded Me for Life- In A Good Way
There was a teacher who was more than special to me in so many ways. Some teachers have an array of love about them that transcends across cultures, economic backgrounds, social characteristics and ethnic differences. This teacher possessed some qualities that very few teachers had back then and still today just a few. She had a helping attitude that allowed us to excel, but not be limited or hindered. She had a smooth way of pushing us to perform to our maximum potential.
Here is what made this teacher extra special to me. She always received gifts from people because of her special characteristics of love and kindness. One day she came in the classroom with a bag of bows and ribbons that she had saved from some gifts and presents. She said, "Gloria I would like you to have these. Would you like to have them?
I was so surprised, yet more than happy to receive them. I felt more than special in so many ways.
So when I opened up the bag, I saw a bright red one. It still had some of the sticky stuff on the back of it. I took it and stuck it on the top of my hair. All of the girls and boys started saying, "ooooh that is so beautiful, pretty and special." I thanked my teacher publicly and that was the beginning of her bringing these surprise boys as often as she received them. I kept finding different ways to wear them in my hair everyday.
This was the beginning of a trend and hairstyle that followed me still today. Everyday as an adult, I still put special decorations in my hair. I love to wear bright, beautiful colors and decorate my hair differently each time. A special thanks to my third grade teacher for branding me in a great way for a lifetime.
You Were Different and Beyond the Imagination
Now there was one teacher that I don't know if I can find the proper words to help you know and understand her. As we approached the fifth grade, we really were not prepared for how to accept nor understand her. Impersonal, interesting and uncaring would not really be fair words. First of all she wore colored gloves most of the day- We didn't understand why other than was it a fad or style? She had on extra make-up on her face with a beautiful wig that covered the sides closest to her scalp. She looked and walked like a doll. She was very small in the waist and had a shape like a model. She learned our names quickly so that she could assign us tasks. She appeared to be a health freak. Our lessons were integrated for the various subject areas with health and especially our bodies.
For science we learned how to make shoe polish out of white chalk. Then she would have each of us to polish our shoes, mostly white tennis shoes. They looked cleaner than ever.
Hold on, because it doesn't get any better. So after a few first days of recess, she started saying, "I smell BO odor. Well we didn't know what she was talking about- then she made it a little clearer and said, "I smell bad body odor." So she had each one of us stand in a line and come up to her individually and let her smell under both of our arms. So she didn't say who it was so, she had soap, water and a towel for each of us to wash under our arms and then she made deodorant available. She would call these our health lessons.
Well the last thing I would mention is that it probably was illegal back then but we students didn't know any better. We had underwear check day. This was to see if everyone had on clean underwear. She would take the boys to the boys restroom and then she would have each of the girls just quickly hold up whatever they had on. She said this teaches you all to always wear clean underwear because we will have these checks throughout the year. This teacher, we found out way later in the school year had been in a very serious auto accident. She had to have plastic surgery on her face( the excessive make-up), on her hands (the colored gloves) and some other parts of her body (girded down). Without being a psychologist, I was old enough to figure out that this accident had really affected her as our teacher and if we could cope long enough we would soon be out of her class. These behaviors and actions went on all year-long.
My First Male Teacher!
Sixth grade was a very unique year anyhow. We walked into the classroom and to our amazement we had a brand new teacher, a man teacher. Now I for one was not sure how we would accept this change. Then I stopped and said well he's no different from the female teachers- let's give him a chance. He was such a loving and kind man who had a special heart for the young men in the class treating us females with dignity and respect. One day one of the male students hit one of our female classmates across the chest with his fist. Wow, the teacher obviously became very disturbed. He began by talking to all of us. He asked the young man to never ever hit a young lady- first of all. Then he emphasized not hitting her in the chest. Then with tears rolling down his cheeks he said to the young man, my wife is at home now suffering with breast cancer, and I pray everyday that no one would hit her in the breast. No one in our class ever did that again.
A Teacher of Etiquette and Design
My seventh grade teacher was a woman of eloquence. She was so beautiful, beautiful hazel color eyes, blondish colored hair, worn with exuberance and honor. She was very friendly, bubbly and seemed happy to have us in her classroom. She had one of my older siblings in her class in prior years. Okay this teacher was the "poet, speech and readings" queen. We had to memorize certain poems like, "If I Could Keep My Head when all about me is losing theirs..." or "Myself." All of the poems we had to memorize had so much meaning. Years down the road we never forgot them- they stayed with us all of our lives. This lady was an eloquent star who realized that words were powerful and the would help us years down the road.
An Expressionless, But Loving Teacher
Needless to say there was one of my teachers who seemed as though he really didn't belong in the field of teaching. You know how they say some people do not belong in some places. Well this man was nice as ever. He had the patience of Job, but was just ineffective. He could answer any question we asked him about math- but he did not seem to have the skills to impart the knowledge we needed. He never raised his voice, never seemed impatient with us and was a fair grader. But for those students who felt like they thrived better when the teacher seemed to be more motivated and had a little more energy than our teacher.
Some students need the teacher to initiate discussions, instead the students found themselves initiating the class discussions, questions, etc. His expressionless facial features and seemingly unmotivated outer appearance still gave us hope. Deep down inside our souls, we knew he liked us and cared about us learning. So we ended the school year by telling him, "Thank you for a great year."
You Showed That You Cared!
Based on all of the previous teachers before now, these were some of the world's top teachers, We were really blessed to have ten as our teachers. There were some children who were not as privileged as we were. Most of our teachers lived near our homes and so we often saw them in our communities. They liked us and showed interest and concern when were outside of school. I can still remember how excited I was when one of the teachers bought me a pair of red gloves. Of course, how did she know that I had dreamed so many nights for a pair of red socks or a pair of gloves? Was this one of those ever so awesome dreams? Yes, they were some awesome teachers who showed that they truly cared for us. They never called us slow, poor nor lazy. Instead they told us to always do the best in everything that we could and we would go a long way in life. So true!
You Portrayed A You Can Make It Attitude
There were some of our teachers who were considered to be "high powered" when it came to their recognition in the churches, neighborhoods and communities. They were known throughout and highly respected. With their respect, and love by those in the communities, we students learned early that we had to earn their respect. Once you earned the respect of one of these high powered teachers, many doors would come open for you. They knew a lot of people who were also in powerful positions. They were very positive minded people who always encouraged us and told us that we could make it. We never heard our teachers say negative things to us. Only one time I heard a guidance counselor who told me that I would not be able to attend a historically black college because it was for elite and rich people. Well she was right our family certainly did not have money and so we would not have been considered to be elite nor rich.
So while her comments stung deep down in my heart- what she said was true- except God had an exception plan for me. The money didn't matter for me, instead my brain and learning were what really mattered to the people in the Admissions Office who accepted me as a new university student enrollee. Keep that you can make it attitude and watch doors come open- that's what we learned. I have practiced that motto throughout life!
A Teaching Principal
By the way, I once heard that in order to become a good administrator, it is always wise to first become a good teacher. Our principal was a wonderful man. He was nice, kind, concerned and eager to talk with us about life. One of the ways that perhaps he thought that he could impart knowledge to us was by sharing his life story. I am not sure about other students, but I got my best teaching from the stories told by my teachers and the elders in our communities. Mr. Stanyard found himself going back in time to share with us about life growing up for him as a little boy. While we had all of these wonderful teachers, we also led a very sheltered life at school. Between our home and school life, we were shielded for most of the time from the ugliness of the head of racism. I think some of the stronger teachers saw no real value in exposing us to so many of the racist practices in or hometown. It was a long time before I really understood why mama and Aunt Zelma and all of them would tell us to make sure that we did not go across he river or the railroad track. Whichever one served as the racial divider or the segregation yardstick was how we wanted to be measured. So our principal taught us just like our teachers.
You Taught Us Discipline in A Tough Way!
There were teachers who made us stay in from recess or after school to make sure we completed our work. I remember I was playing on the girl's basketball team. Thought I was doing well in my class work. My grades dropped a little because we would get home late from basketball practice and when we had out of town games, it was quite late at night for two young teenagers to walk home alone.
So when I got home after week three, I was told that I would have to give up the basketball team, bring my grades up and get involved with something else less time-consuming. Oh well, I sat on the bench most of the time any how- so I guess it didn't bother me too much. But I did get caught up on my grades, wasn't as tired and had less stress about being able to perform and improve my "game" rather than my grades. It was important for me to keep my grades up, after all I wanted to go to college.
So while it was tough love, it paid off in the end, and it was one of those situations when an adult's wisdom was helpful, even if it felt painful to all of us at the time. Oh well, we were taught to "get over things and move on." That is so true because it doesn't help to cry over "spilt milk."
You Showed Us the Importance of Ladylike Qualities
Now this one went a little beyond the expectations for being a lady. My "adopted" mother had bought me some beautiful , new school outfits in the middle of the school year. I was so excited that I would be dressed up going to school. Well one of the outfits was a red and gold one piece culotte. They were just coming out. A culotte is like a skirt pant, except it was shorter and came down to the knees. Well, I proudly wore this outfit to school and had on a red shirt under it, red socks and red tennis shoes. I made it through my first period class. But by the time it was second period, one of the female teachers stopped me in the hallway and said that I would have to go home and take that outfit off because when I go up stairs if boys wanted to they could look up the stairs and see under my clothes. I was devastated and shocked. This meant that they would have had to intentionally stand on the steps in the hallway, plan to look upward to see if they could see under my culotte outfit. I was quite disturbed because I thought the issue should have been their making sure that boys weren't intentionally standing around trying to see under girls' clothing. I had to call Vertelle to come get me from school to go home and change. She was furious that they were sending me home to change this outfit- so she told them all about how she had bought this outfit for me with her own money and how nice I looked in the outfit. Sadly, I never got to wear that outfit back to school.
So today, I am amazed at some of the clothing that young people are allowed to wear to school. Then some school districts have the ordacity to say that under the First Amendments, students have the freedom to do certain things. Then there are the school districts that decided one of the easiest ways of dealing with this issue is to require all of the students to wear uniforms. Of course there is some very interesting research out there that would support or not support uniforms as a means of solving the dress-attire issues that the educational system is faced with today.
What Did I Take From Each of My Teachers?
I feel so blessed because there was some things that I took from each of my teachers. When I was a little girl around five years old, I realized that I wanted to be a teacher. Each year as I got older there were so many opportunities for me to practice in my neighborhood. It was just like all of the younger children were attracted to me. So somehow they would find their way to our door steps. For hours at a time we would sit outside on the steps and that was our schoolhouse. I would "pretend" to be the teacher and they all would be my students. Then we would sing as many songs as we could think of. Then we started adding different materials to each of our teaching sessions. We learned how to take sticks, small branches and turn them into musical sticks. We made our own jump ropes out of the cord/rope from the ice cubes that so many families purchased back then to put in the iceboxes (not refrigerators). These ropes were strong and were used to handle and carry the ice cubes. We also used that same rope to make dolls. We made dolls out of bottles, plastic containers and boxes. We could unloose the rope and make it into "hair" for us to comb on the newly created dolls.
The truth of the matter is that we were so creative back then. We couldn't afford to buy toys but maybe during Christmas time. So we children used our imaginations and created our own toys a lot! So what did I learn from all of these great teachers?
You Imitate, Copy, Pretend and Imagine!
In my my early grades during the elementary school years, my most important skill that I learned from my teachers is imitation. If I could ever tell teachers how important being a good role model for young children is- I would write a book. The young child spends a lot of time imitating the teacher. What the teacher is doing becomes a critical part of the young child's leaning. The learning really occurs when the child can recall what the teacher taught them during the day.
The next skill that I learned from my teachers is the idea of copying them. Today it is mostly referenced as "shadowing." This is when the student spends a significant amount of time learning about and doing whatever they see the individual doing.
So if you can't be the real teacher, just "pretend." So many people spend extensive amounts of time pretending to be someone else. Adults as well as children enjoy this experience of being able to "come outside of the box."
Then after learning, practicing and developing all of these skills, never forget to use your imaginations. Imaginations can take us mentally where the body may not go physically. Being able to imagine success, faith, hope, love, peace, understanding, joy and a great future will make you always love and appreciate the people who took the time to help all of us grow and develop!