Monday, March 12, 2012

We all make mistakes

While discussing general "how to live in this world" topics with my kids, I touched on some of my most remembered life lessons.  Not necessarily the biggest, just the ones I remember most.  There are several, and they have helped shape my life.

May 15, 1981, Sacajawea elementary, Mrs. Williams' second grade class.

Ok- wish I could act like I have a photographic, brilliant memory, but actually I only remember the date because it was my birthday.

I remember my 8th birthday was either a Monday or Wednesday, because I distinctly recall it being either Monday marriage day or Wednesday wedding day.  I entered my second grade classroom to pure chaos.  Boys and girls were playing chase all over the room, hoping to catch that special someone for a marriage or wedding.  (You tag them, they have to marry you... if only life was that easy).

Mrs. Williams sat at her desk, silent, with her face propped in both hands.  I know that look now.  I actually knew that look then.  The calm before the storm.  That teacher was about to blow! 

Knowing this, I sidestepped a few potential grooms, and made my way to my desk.

Within minutes, the yelling began.  Boy was she mad.

She lectured and scolded, and then sent four particularly bad offenders outside the classroom to put their heads down.  One was my neighbor Dean.  By the way, totally would have let him catch me on a Monday or Wednesday.  Two others were called... and then me.

It wasn't me!  It was Heather, a first grader in this split class, with the same long honey blonde hair.  I didn't do it!  It was my birthday.

These are all things I should have said, but I didn't.

I spent the morning with my head down, and my mom brought a cake to the classroom in the afternoon.

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this.  Keep reading.

January 2001, Minnehaha elementary, my own first grade class

In January that year, I was very pregnant, teaching first grade at Minnehaha elementary.  One day at lunch, I sat next to a substitute teacher in the staff room.  It was Mrs. Williams.  This next part will show the dedication and love of my second grade teacher.  She turned to me, all grown up and puffed out from third trimester pregnancy, and said, "well, little Sammy Williams."

It was a wonderful lunch, sitting next to my beloved teacher, listening to her happiness that I, too, had gone into the profession.

I told her my second grade birthday story.  She was horrified, and astonished that I remembered it.

I explained to her that it was an important life lesson to me.

What had I learned?

Adults aren't perfect.

When you work with kids, you try to make each feel special and important.  You try to connect with each and every one, as impossible as it may seem.  I learned that day that teachers make mistakes.  Parents make mistakes.

Working with children is a marathon, not a sprint.  She made a mistake and the world didn't end.  She made a mistake, and it was okay.  The first year I taught, I made mistakes.  I also knew that the world wouldn't end, and the students wouldn't hold a grudge, and we'd all be okay.

Only thing better than having someone influence and touch your life is being able to tell them.

It was the best school lunch period ever.

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