I’m linking up with some teacher-bloggers who are also writing a letter to a teacher. You can see their links below.
Teachers play such an important role in not only a child’s life but also an adult’s life.
Think about a teacher that has impacted you when you were a child and how they changed your life.
Do you work with someone who has changed you as a teacher or as a mother/father?
Is there a teacher in your child’s life that has been pivotal in your child’s development?
For me, I will never forget my 5th grade teacher, Mr. Rouland.
You see I was a very shy child, I never talked much, was always scared of adults, and generally lacked confidence and initiative. Many times I felt very invisible and that things were too hard. I grew up in a home where one parent.. let’s just say, didn’t know how to be a parent. I was very scared of men and unsure what to say, in case I were to upset them. Mr. Rouland changed that for me and I have never forgotten him to this day. Mr. Rouland is still at the same school I went to 28 years ago! In fact, he is the principal. I would love to see him again one day to tell him in person, what he means to me.
I remember our classroom from all those years ago. We were on the second floor, and our big windows overlooked the playground and the huge bridge into our school.
I remember the way that you conveyed to us daily, that you loved the space and the children who occupied it. You were always so happy and enthusiastic, a trait that told me I was safe. In the previous years leading up to 5th grade, I was timid and withdrawn and never felt like I was part of something bigger, acknowledged, or really helped when I needed it. Everything changed when I got to your class.
You actually took notice of me and saw that I wanted to be part of the class but didn’t know how to. You acknowledged me and smiled, listened, asked questions and generally made me feel excited to be in the classroom. You saw when I was struggling and knew I wouldn’t ask for help, because I didn’t know how to. You helped me when I was too scared to ask for assistance. You made me feel important.
As I slowly accepted you, being the not so scary male figure, I began to open up and talk more. I remember I was more willing to engage with other older males in my life and it was because I was learning that not everyone was mean, angry and scary. I was even acknowledging the change in myself and wondering why, I never talked more in the past.
I remember the day you decided to make a cubby (fort) over the book corner area using old blankets. I wasn’t much of a reader at the time because I lacked so much confidence, but when I saw that cubby house, I knew I just had to get in there! I found that I loved books and would always try to get in there, just to be reading! I had always been an avid cubby house builder at home. My mum let us use old blankets and sheets in the yard and my best friend, Alison and I would build and play in them for hours, creating our own little world. You made the classroom homey and safe and I was able to access learning on so many levels because of that. This would influence my philosophy as a teacher in the years to come.
The big turning point for me was the day we had an art project. I knew I enjoyed art, as most kids do, but again, I lacked confidence. I recall we had to draw something, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I drew it inside a bottle. I remember, really thinking about how I was going to draw it in a different way. Then when I took the picture to you at your desk, and the look on your face (I have tears) was so proud, so happy, and so excited to see the drawing that I had created, I melted. I was so happy, that you liked it and that you stopped to actually smile, talk to me about it and acknowledge a glimmer of talent. I felt important and so very happy. I knew I would pursue more arty things because of that experience, and I did. Right there in that moment, was why I decided to become a teacher. In hindsight, it was probably because of all the things you did.
I decided to become a teacher because I knew I could help. I knew that acknowledging children for who they are, and really seeing them, giving time to them and seeing them smile was how I could help them be their best selves. This was to become my teaching pedagogy. Never would I ignore a child, instead I aim to build them up. I know how important to is to their spirit to acknowledge children in the moment. Sometimes you are all they have or need.
Thank you Mr. Rouland for shaping me into the teacher I am. I will never, ever forget you.