Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Teacher's Life

I have the privilege of going to work at something I enjoy, most mornings. I teach fourth grade children. What a hoot!

Part of the joy of teaching, for a ham like this ol' boy, is having an appreciative audience 180 days a year. I love to tell stories, read aloud, guide tours, sing, clown around, and generally show out.

Here are a few of my show-out moments of the school year:

I lead the students in singing our special birthday song to students during lunch. It is the simple chorus of the song "Cut The Cake".
It makes me think of the good old days
Happy birthday to you
You sure grew out of your baby ways
Happy birthday to you
It's your (7th 23rd, 92nd) birthday
we wish you many more
Health and wealth and friends by the score
Cut the cake and let's eat some more
Happy birthday to you
I learned it from Ed Kilbourne. It has also been recorded by John McCutcheon. It was written by Tina Lisa Jones. Often our entire class will march solemnly into a neighboring classroom room to sing the song for the teacher. I introduce it with a flourish commemorating the anniversary in the most flowery style i can muster.

We also sing songs for the Water Cycle, the Cummutative Properties of Addition and Multiplication, and Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, among others.

I often speak in dialect and pretend to be the explorer we are studying in Social Studies or a mad scientist investigating the topic at hand in our science class.

The school calls on me often to tell stories at special events. Afterwards I am happy but drenched in sweat and worn to a frazzle.

My afterschool duties include calling students to their parents' cars via walkie talkie. I am incapable of performing that task in a businesslike voice. Instead I have to entertain. "Julie Grobesmidt, your Mama thinks you're number one!" "Henry Pomegranite, your chariot awaits at number 2!" etc. I'm sure the rest of the staff would like to stuff a sock in my mouth.

There are several books that I read aloud to my kids every year.

First is The Lion's Paw by Robb White, my favorite children's book. One of my favorite moments of the school year is reading the climactic scene of that book. You could hear a pin drop as the kids hang on every word. Then during the resolution, when a character reaches down to pick up a Lion's Paw seashell off the littered floor of the sloop's cabin, I bend and pretend to pick up the shell I've hidden in my hand, and relish the "Wow!s" and "Ooh!s" and the "Is it real, Mr. Shaw?s"

No Christmas season would be complete without reading Barbara Robinson's beautiful little book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

When the wild-haired foxhound Bristle Face (by Zachary Ball) gets tangled in the widow's bloomers hanging from the clothesline, the kids roar with laughter. When the panther springs our hearts turn over. And when we face the dog's death, teacher and students fight lumps in our throats.

What is your favorite memory of school?
What is your favorite children's book?

I have previously touched on some of my school memories:

Alien Invasion

Cousins, Rice, Sea Legs, and Multiplication

Aslan Is Dead!

Pottermania & Children's Books

Spare the Rod, Icabod!

My more serious cohort, Mike Bock has written:

The Education Of John Adams

Schools That Would Make Stalin Happy

School of the Future

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