Teachers come in all forms. From the moment we are born, life itself is a teacher, bringing with it all manner of lessons. We are curious creatures, taking in the world with all of our senses. Even when I was little, I loved playing school. Our neighbors, the Novasatkas had a back porch with an awning that would be our ‘classroom.’ Guess who always played teacher? Interestingly, I had not pursued education as a degree nor a mainstream classroom as my workplace. Wonder why?
My favorite teacher of all time, was Richard Serfling. He and Christie Richards co-led our combined 4th, 5th and 6th grade experimental class in our suburban South Jersey town of Willingboro. What I loved most about him was his encouragement of out of the box thinking. He seemed to understand the various learning styles of each student. Some absorbed information best by listening, some by reading, some by writing and others were hands on-learners. I think I had a bit of each that carry through to this day. We incorporated music, creative writing, outdoor observation; on warm days, we would do our work in the courtyard right outside the classroom. Friday afternoons two of our classmates would bring in guitars and we would have a hootenanny; singing hippie-esque songs such as Where Have All The Flowers Gone? , Blowin’ in the Wind and This Land is Your Land.
He respected questioning of standard ways of thinking. I asked a lot of questions(:
I credit him in part with my decision to become a journalist, since he enticed me to keep writing. There are some teachers who have a way about them that challenge learning norms, stretching beyond expectations. He did that.
I have many teachers who do work in the classroom and I honor the dedication they have for their students and guiding them to be expansive thinkers. Lest you think it is an 8 hour a day job with summers off, I’m here to tell you that most teachers I know, get to work by 7 and sometime don’t leave until 5 or later. They pay out of their own pockets for classroom décor and sometimes spend summers teaching school or taking continuing ed classes. They also come in before the school year starts to get their classrooms ready for the year. Then there are parent- teacher conferences and meetings with parents and tutoring of students in need of extra help and sponsoring after school clubs and activities.
Hard to imagine that there are people who think teachers are overpaid. Is there anything much more important that the education of children? I bless those who find this as their calling and am grateful to know that what I learned in Mr. Serflng’s classroom will serve me and the next seven generations.
http://youtu.be/vwsKWiXlA78 Teacher Appreciation Song by Brian Asselin
Photo credit: United Federation of Teachers