Part of Slice of Life by Two Writing Teachers March Slice a Day Challenge!
I’m slicing every day this month. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
I’ve been thinking this week about the teachers and classes who have come and gone in our district and wondering where all those memories go. What impact do we have as teachers, as classroom communities? Where do we hold the personal and institutional memory of all of those beautiful times, all of those beautiful teachers we’ve had and worked with?
My first year teaching was in a beautiful old school. I had a group of second graders and the most amazing para.
I remember working in my new-to-me classroom: Room 16 that summer when the principal walked in and asked me if I’d rather have the experienced para, or the new one they needed to hire. It was a hard decision, but she needed a decision right then and there.
“Experienced.” I finally said — and what a miracle to have gotten the opportunity to work with Mrs. Cross that year. She brought so much knowledge, joy and laughter to our days. She taught me, Ms. I-student-taught-in-6th-grade how to teach second graders.
Once, I slapped a template on a piece of tagboard and told the kids to use it to cut out the shape.
“I think what Ms. Thought means is,” she said kindly, “Place the template down, hold it with your hand nice and strong. Then take your pencil hand and with a good 2nd-grade grip, slowly trace the pattern….” Ahhhh. Yes. I learned a lot that year.
Mrs. Cross made corn cob compound words, and set up marble painting stations on special days. There was something called a green pickle party, and her word study station was meticulously organized. At lunch she read aloud to the kids and changed all the names in the book to the names of the kids in our class.
When I proudly made tagboard binoculars for a goal-setting activity, she helped me hang them up in the hall. When the art teacher walked by and asked me why I had a display of bras hanging up, Mrs. Cross snapped a picture and laughed with me, “BRAnoculars!” we howled. We often laughed as a joke or pun sailed over the kids’ heads and straight to each other.
It’s lucky for me because one of the second grade teachers I work with now has Mrs. Cross has her para, and it’s like reconnecting with the magic.
In Room 16, we had a castle made of cardboard boxes, a fairytale ball, and we spent the last month or so of school rehearsing an adaptation of Swimmy by Leo Lionni.
In Room 16 we had a morning letter, and song that went something like this, “Chatty, chatty, chatty, chatty, room 16!”
In Room 16, we had guided reading even though I really didn’t know what I was doing yet. We had math stations, and sometimes we watched Magic School Bus.
In Room 16, we laughed a lot, and I read aloud more than once a day. We had 2 computers, and kids took turns using them for something… Kid Pix maybe?
In Room 16, I sobbed on the last day of school, and hugged each kid goodbye.
I’ll always remember Room 16, even after next year when the building isn’t a school anymore, even if they tear it down.