Thursday, June 4, 2009

Three, Four, Shut the Door (Part 1)

It's a common literary device to take characters from their normal, comfortable surroundings and place them in a new, unfamiliar place. There, they have new perspectives, new insights and sometimes epiphanies that change their outlooks on life. That's what happened in third grade. Our small school needed an addition, so they while they built on to the school, they put our second/third grade class in a church basement about five blocks from the school.

We had our desks and a portable chalkboard, so the school atmosphere was there to a certain extent, but we also had large kitchen, a tiny little bathroom and a giant yard around the church to explore. Best of all, we had Mrs. Shockley.

Mrs. Shockley looked like just another one of our seemingly ancient teachers, but we soon found out she was different. She was excited and enthusiastic about having school in the church basement so we were too. I realize now if she would have been sour and bitter about the inconveniences involved, we would have felt it too, but instead she set the tone for the year and we felt like explorers, adventurers, instead of just the extra kids.

She knew how to have fun and she made the most of our unconventional location. We got to decorate our "classroom" with our artwork, taping our pictures to the heating ducts that ran over our heads. For Thanksgiving she recruited some moms to help and we used that big kitchen to prepare a turkey dinner, and then decorated and set one long table where we sat, dressed up, half Native Americans, half Pilgrims, to eat our feast.

For Easter she had an accomplice hide giant baskets of goodies all around the yard of the church while we were in class. She then released us for recess and told us to have a good time. I still remember finding my basket in the window ledge of the church.

I remember that year very fondly. It was fun being at the church and Mrs. Shockley managed to make even the daily walks up to the main building for lunch exciting by having us hold hands and weave up and down the street like a giant snake. Even in the the bitter cold of winter, we looked forward to those walks.

Here's to teachers like Mrs. Shockley. I learned so much that year in that tiny, damp church basement. The lesson I carry with me in my own teaching is that I set the tone in the classroom. My attitude is the one that matters and my students will pick it up and emulate it, whatever it is.

Mrs. Shockley had fun teaching us and we had fun being her students. Does it get any better than that?

1 comment:

Suse said...

no -- it doesn't get any better than that!