Top 10 teacher secrets
By Lisa Smartt
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 8:01 pm
It’s that time of year. Time for my annual tribute to the men and women serving in our schools. Good teachers shape the future of our culture in ways we can’t even fully fathom. But teachers have a few secrets. Secrets which will now be revealed.
Top 10 teacher secrets:
No. 10. The locked desk drawer is full of chocolate bars.
No. 9. Teachers plan to supplement their retirement by selling the coffee mugs they get for Christmas every year.
No. 8. They don’t eat the apples. They trade apples for chocolate in an underground teacher’s co-op.
No. 7. The teacher’s lounge has a sound-proof screaming closet.
No. 6. When teachers say, “He has intense energy and great potential,” they mean, “I take a lot of Tylenol.”
No. 5. When teachers say, “She has tremendous communicative ability!” they mean, “She won’t stop talking long enough to breathe.”
No. 4. When teachers say, “I want to help him focus his energy more effectively,” they mean, “He must learn to sit still or I will be hospitalized within the week.”
No. 3. When teachers say, “This is an enthusiastic class,” they mean, “I’ve been to the screaming closet in the teacher’s lounge four times this week.”
No. 2. When teachers say, “I will really need parental support this year,” they mean, “Send more chocolate.”
No. 1. When teachers say, “I love these kids,” .. they really do.
I stand in awe of teachers. I always have. This time of year I can still smell paste and Crayola crayons in the air. I remember the chuck wagon sandwiches, the chocolate milk and the crazy social lessons on the playground. But mostly I experience the rich memories of those men and women who influenced my life and convinced me that the world was bigger than just the space we currently occupied.
Coach Garland taught my geography class in high school. He loved maps and culture and convinced me that the whole world was worth exploring. He determined we would learn the location of all the countries in the world if it killed us. We complained a lot. But we owe him our gratitude. He made our world bigger.
Mrs. Scott understood that I would never fully grasp her beloved geometry. She smiled despite my mathematical inadequacies. Mrs. Scott had taught for more than 20 years but never seemed bored with school. It was always fresh. She convinced me that there were people in the world who truly loved math. What a revelation!
Mrs. Hockenberry bought a gerbil for our room and convinced us that school was an exciting place to be. She even loved Erma. I didn’t know anyone else who loved Erma. Erma was dirty and discouraged and tired. Erma looked like a battered middle-aged woman in a fifth-grader’s body. She looked like the weight of the world rested on her fragile shoulders. Looking back, I think it did. Mrs. Hockenberry’s smiles and big hugs gave Erma the one thing she needed most ... the one thing no one else gave her ... hope.
Every year, teachers and educational assistants step into the world of children and teenagers. What a messy and unpredictable world! Happy children. Sad children. Children who learn easily. Children who have difficulty.
Some people say that Bill Gates is the most powerful man in the world. I disagree. The men and women who choose to love Erma every day ... they are the powerful ones.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 8.5.09