Without them, none of us would know how to read. Or write. Or do math.
They play a phenomenally important role in our society. Today, I dedicate my InspyRomance blog post to those treasured people who dedicate their lives to this noble profession.
I am the daughter of a teacher. My mom taught kindergarten for seventeen years, and then, as we like to say, she “graduated” to first grade, which she taught for another seventeen years. I always felt like she was somewhat of a celebrity in our community. Imagine thirty-four years of teaching approximately twenty-five students each year, along with their fifty parents. That’s a lot of people who know your name! We’d be walking through the mall and I’d hear, “Mrs. Parlette!” My mom would turn, with a huge smile on her face, and she would greet that student or parent by name. Her memory never faltered. It didn’t matter whether she taught that student this year, last year, or fifteen years ago, she always placed a name with a now more grown up face. It was amazing.
I once asked her, “How do you recognize kids who are now in their teens, although you taught them when they were five or six years old?” She thought for a moment and said serenely, “Their eyes. Their eyes never change.”
I’d like to share this amazing picture from the local newspaper, circa the late 1960s. That’s my mom, Mrs. Parlette with her stylish beehive hairdo, working her magic with a lucky student.
She retired after 34 years of teaching, but only because she got the kind of incentive offer you can’t refuse! She still loved teaching. She never lost the energy or the patience needed to be one of the very best.
My own boys had a great crop of teachers in their educational career. When my younger son went to grade school, he had a teacher named Mrs. Smiley and another named Mrs. Laffey. What a wonderful welcome to young kids who are nervous about school … you couldn’t have come up with better names!
Teaching in the pandemic environement …
Teaching in the COVID pandemic has required our teachers to stretch their boundaries and be challenged in ways they never dreamed of before. Who could ever imagine when our schools closed down last March that they would still be partially (and in some areas fully) closed thirteen months later? And yet, the learning must continue, despite the schools being closed. And the lion’s share of the pressure for making that happen is on the teachers.
I have a friend, Ms. Lake, who teaches third grade and has been teaching remotely for over a year. My brain can’t even imagine how she’s doing that. How do 8-year-old kids have enough discipline to sit alone in a bedroom and concentrate on an online lesson? And how do teachers control the classroom from distractions when “the classroom” is actually in 25 different places?
Sure, she gets frustrated. She wishes things were different. But students are her first priority, just like they always have been. As an example, for April Fool’s Day, look what she did — instead of her students tuning into their online learning and seeing their beloved teacher on the screen … they instead found a substitute teacher named Mr. Lirpa. Eventually they figured out that Mr. “Lirpa” was “April” spelled backwards and it was actually their beloved Ms. Lake in an elaborate disguise!
I interviewed my friend Ms. Lake about her year of remote teaching and here’s something she shared with me:
“The most memorable part of remote teaching is the awe I experience every day at the resiliency of my third graders. I try to mimic in-person learning as much as I can, because it what they know, and what they will return to (hopefully) next year. We do break-out rooms a lot because I want my students to have the chance to work in student-led small groups. I act as facilitator going from one breakout room to the next just to check on each group’s progress and to be available if they need me. One day, I popped into a group that consisted of 4 students working on a fractions assignment. One of the students was apparently having trouble understanding, and another student had shared his screen and created a Google Slide with pictures and a diagram. I listened to him explain it, and at the end of his explanation, he said, “Do you understand it now?” I didn’t say a word. I quietly left the group and had a “gulp” moment.”
Ms. Lake kept a journal of funny comments from her students in this unusual time in education history. Here are a few of my favorites:
Me (to a student who wasn’t paying attention): “Amy, are you with me?”
Amy: “The two brain cells I have left are trying to operate.”
Me (teasing them): “We have so much to do today and it’s half-day Wednesday. I think I’m going to keep you on all day.”
Adrian: “Do you have the authority to do that?”
Talking to a friend before school started, not realizing that I can hear her, a student says: “I have toothpaste in my hair from earlier this morning. It’s so gross. This is my life.”
My dog Jackson was barking at a squirrel and the kids could hear him. One of them said, “I think Jackson forgot to mute his mic!”
It’s no wonder that the inspirational romance genre is filled with wonderful stories that feature teachers as lead characters. And so, in celebration of our amazing teachers who are hanging in there through the pandemic, the changes in teaching and still educating our children every day through all the challenges … here is …
InspyRomance Reading List … featuring teachers!
Roadtrip to Redemption, by Laurie Larsen. Teacher Leslie Malone faces a lonely summer when her husband leaves her after a twenty year marriage. She hits the road, traveling wherever God leads her. Little does she know it turns out to be the very best summer of all!
Downtown Billionaire, by Hannah Jo Abbott. A brand-new billionaire trying to give back. An outspoken teacher who won’t back down.
Summer to Remember, by Tara Grace Ericson. As a middle-school teacher, Mark Dawson tries to teach students it’s okay to embrace your quirks; a lesson he also finds himself reiterating to the cute new baker in town. When he is accused of the unthinkable and his career and community threaten to crumble; the shame is too much to share.
Operation Back-to-School, by Elizabeth Maddrey. A single mom, her daughter’s teacher, and a chance to find love the second time around.
This Wandering Heart, by Janine Rosche. No one in the quaint town of West Yellowstone, Montana knows that unassuming geography teacher Keira Knudsen moonlights as sensational travel blogger Kat Wanderfull. No one, that is, except for her first love, Robbie Matthews, who has just discovered the woman he is falling for online is the same one that broke his heart five years ago.
Memories of Mist, by Valerie Comer. A conflict-avoiding teacher. A take-no-prisoners PTA mom. All that pulls them together is the gardening class he’s reluctantly teaching.
Smile for Me, by Jan Thompson. She is laid-back. He is uptight. Never the twain shall…kiss?
Discussion questions: do you have a favorite teacher from your own schooldays? Why did you love this teacher? Do you have any fun anecdotes to share about your own or your children’s schooling? What’s your favorite book that features a teacher? What can we all do to celebrate our teachers as this school year winds to a close?