Speaking from experience | Mark’s Remarks


In this day and age, teachers aren’t as respected as they once were. They used to be mysterious, highly revered people long ago.

I can remember thinking my teacher lived at school, and it was a momentous occasion to see a teacher out in the community.

My friend’s mother was also a teacher, and we once engaged in a secret phone call. It went something like this:

Friend: I have to whisper because she will hear me.

Me: Who?

Friend: Mrs. Smith (names have been changed to protect the innocent)

Me: Where are you?

Friend: At my house.  She is sitting in my living room. She’s visiting my mom.

Me: Why are you worried about her hearing you?

Friend:  Because I wanted to tell you that it’s true.  

Me: What’s true?

Friend: Mrs. Smith smokes cigarettes.

Finding out our teachers were real people could be scandalous at times.  You can bet the gossip spread around the playground like wildfire the next day.    

Mrs. Smith was the Marlboro woman.

When I was a new teacher, we had a get-together at an uptown restaurant and there were drinks and food all around. I was sitting at a table on which sat several beer bottles and pitchers of beer.

One of my students was also the child of a fellow teacher, and said child came into the restaurant to give her mother something.

I was terribly worried.  You see, I had been teaching DARE education for about a week, and here was my student seeing me sitting in the middle of iniquity.

I know enough now to tell you I have a pretty good handle on how kids operate. I can, at times, tell you how kids will respond.  My 30 years of experience enables me to be proactive.  

At times, I can avoid classroom traffic jams, uproars and the like because I know how groups of kiddos will respond.

So, looking back, I’m sure Mrs. Smith knew she was smoking a cigarette in front of a student and saw nothing wrong with it. Furthermore, she knew kids would talk about it the next day at school.  

I doubt she gave a hoot.

My student, who I thought would think I had downed a dozen beers, probably didn’t even notice, especially since her parents had a drink now and then.

But it is sometimes interesting to see how a kid responds. It’s fun to watch the wheels turn in their heads. I’ve done it for so long, my students think I’m a mind reader on a daily basis.  

There are also times I feel I need to educate adults on how kids tick. I assume adults know better, and that’s not fair to adults.  A person who works with children all the time is going to know things that many adults don’t.

When my little daughter ran for Little Miss Monroe County Fair a few years ago, it was a grand experience for her. She loved it.  She is the type of kid who likes dressing up and performing. 

We thought she should have won, of course. But we weren’t sore losers. We all left smiling and happy for the experience.

During the pageant, the contestants were asked questions in order to get them talking a bit for the judges.

Several of the questions sounded like this: “What does (insert noun) mean to you?”

They were asked about all kinds of things.

I remember one little girl being asked this question: “What does snow mean to you?” 

Little kids are pretty literal and this little one thought the person was asking her to define the word “snow.” Most kids would. Puzzled, the poor kid decided to just use the word in a sentence.  

I thought, at the time, that the judges could get more out of the little girls if they gave them scenarios instead. It would have probably been better to say “Tell about a time you had fun in the snow.” There you go.  You’d get more out of the contestant and you’d also probably be entertained a bit.

Back then, I was going to make the suggestion. But, I thought the pageant coordinators would think I was a bossy, know-it-all parent whose daughter didn’t win. I should stop and say here that I think those folks work very hard and the pageant is always fun stuff. No critique here.

I’m wondering how many things might be changed if folks would consult experienced teachers?  I’ve been consulting them for years, and now that I am one, I can tell you my wealth of knowledge came from other people.  

I know several older, retired teachers who could for sure run this country.

Or at least the education department.

Wouldn’t that be fun to witness? 

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