the other night i went and spent a couple of hours with the widow of the man that had been my tennis coach my last two years in high school. he was the basketball coach, and a math teacher, and knew nothing about tennis, but he went to several camps to learn, and more importantly, he basicly turned over most things to me. it seems this is how i really like things, to be in charge, but not in charge. it gives you the freedom to act, but none of the responsibility. truth be said i am more of a follower than a leader. i know i have leadership skills, i just don’t really like to use them. and in the case of not wanting to be a teacher, it might be because i loved being a student so much. the widow was my first grade teacher, and i realized sitting there that not only did i love her and her class, but there were only two teachers during my whole time in public school that i didn’t care for their classes. i was always the kid that loved the teachers that other kids hated. why? because those teachers were actually doing their job and pushing us, finding extra things to show us and make us do, and they didn’t put up with shit. they wanted an orderly classroom, and most of them got it. funny, with all the talk of add, odd, adhd, etc….how so many accommodations are supposed to now be made for the students, who are now so many of them drugged to ease these problems….shouldn’t it be the opposite? sorry, i do believe the student has a more active role in actually learning. a great teacher makes all the difference, but students can learn what they need to with sub-par teachers, and i didn’t meet too many of them until i got to college.

i’ve all ready said i was in the gifted program in elementary. our junior high (7-9) was a 6 day cycle (PE and some other classes alternated even/odd days) and a 9 period day with a “floating” period. every day this period would float down and replace another class. this was actually amazing as every 10 days a class would not meet or at the end of the cycle the floating period knocked out until the next day when it replaced first period again. consistency with reprieve (not that i saw classes that way)…what a concept. it allowed freshman to take all their core, plus a language if they wanted, and band/chorus both. and extra classes galore. we had to take a period of “exploratory” classes: child care, art classes, cooking, industrial arts.

i took a lot of art classes even though i am not good. painting, clay, 3-d. i took cooking. but my favorite were industrial arts classes. plastics class where we made a ton of stuff (and had to learn the properties of different types of plastics….none of these classes were particularly easy, but they were rewarding…electricity (the final project was a board of 20 electrical connections, some incorrect or broken that we had to fix so the board would light up (i was one of two that got it right on the first try), and small engines. i was the only girl in this class. we partnered up, found unworking lawn mowers (apparently this not too hard, my neighbor had one) and half the period we learned how engines ran and the other half we worked and fixed the lawnmowers until they ran. clarinda eventually did away with this scheduling as they said students had a hard time with the schedule. actually i remember all of us loving it. but i’m sure it was a scheduling nightmare. i imagine that was the real reason it was changed.

high school was modular scheduling. kinda like college. certain classes meant certain days and certain periods were longer. which again was awesome. some classes that really needed continuity (math) met every day (i still don’t understand how block scheduling can be good for math where each concept builds on the last, and the student has no time in between lessons to do the homework and get the concept settled in their mind before the next is introduced), and science labs could meet once a week for 90 minutes and actually have time to “do” the labs. again, you could take up to 8 or 9 classes a semester with this model. band and chorus…no need to make a choice. continue with foreign language. and take lots of classes that are just things you want to take. and college prep (back then there weren’t classes that doubled for college enrollment. i still think this is a stupid process. most of these students don’t have the capacity for full understanding if these classes are taught the way they should be in college, and it is a lot of pressure on both the teachers and students. let students have 1 free attempt at certain college courses they want to try to “test” out of….i personally think that is a better way, otherwise a lot of good college profs end up trying to “catch up” the students in advanced courses because of the skipping of dual enrolled classes their freshman year). for my non-core i took some theatre, art (again not great, but a fantastic teacher who included art history along with the hands on), advanced science, and advanced english.

the two teachers i disliked were the spanish teacher (who hated my dad and treated me as such) and the history teacher (ex-military captain who ran her class as such). history was my only B in high school. i was tired of starting in the same old place (this was american history) and not getting to the good stuff (in my eyes anything past WWI) and just didn’t study the way i needed to. i had this teacher for a current events class and loved it. she was a much different teacher in this class, and i got an A. but the B in her class was definitely my fault. the fact that i didn’t like her personality or the content had nothing to do with her not presenting the content correctly or in a way i could grasp it. so again, when students blame teachers, i doubt that very often is poor teaching really the case why a student doesn’t do well.

college i would find more teachers that i didn’t like, mostly because they didn’t always “teach”…

my favorite class in high school was government. in college “government” class for this instructor became a political science class where he could spew his views–amazingly enough conservative republican for my teacher. ugh.

one of my theory classes was taught by a brilliant, yet often drunk or hung over man. you really had to be attentive to mood.

one psychology class had a woman who thought we were all dense. yet she lectured nothing out of the book (which i love, we can read the friggin’ book) and her tests were NOTHING from lectures or the book….turns out they were the previous teacher’s tests, and once we got copies from the library test vault we all aced them. excellent in class, poor tests.

but most of my college classes and teachers i also loved. which is good as i chose to take some extra and dual enroll for masters classes when i could so i could do mr. mitchell’s final tower choir tour to florida before he retired. i should have been student teaching that semester. but again, this allowed me to take several independent studies in theatre, several extra PE courses, an independent study in diction, and i was two classes (percussion methods and hs instrumental methods) away from dual certification. i had taken secondary instrumental lessons (trombone/french horn), all the other instrumental methods (they were 4 separate courses at that time) and instrumental literature. i knew better than to get the dual certification though. it could make me be forced to teach band.

my main band instrument is trumpet. in 7th grade i was hitting high c and d’s and the high school director would come down and work with me occasionally as he was also trumpet. then i got braces, totally changed my embouchure and after they were off, i never could get my range back. too bad, i honestly think i would have tried to play professionally. again, piano is thought of more of a solo instrument so people push you that direction…trumpet they push you more toward symphonic or jazz work. to be a 2nd or 3rd trumpet in a broadway pit, now that would be nirvana.


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