My Third Grade Teacher Wants to Know….

After I graduated college with my degree in Zoology, I got a job at my local elementary school as the Kindergarten Aide.  I loved this job (it led me to apply to graduate schools for education) and I loved being back in the familiar space.  I remember my former third grade teacher cornering me in the hallway one day and asking me what I most remembered of third grade.  I quickly flashed back to images of her beehive hairdo, her red polka-dot slip and of her killing wasps with chalkboard spray but decided to not share those memories.  Instead I shared the memory of the felt board lesson she did with us when Hurricane Gloria was on its way and the big lesson in plagiarism she taught me after I copied the encyclopedia for my bear report.  This answer was not adequate for her and she kept probing….”Don’t you remember anything else? Any of the content we studied??”  At this point I wanted to tell her that I remembered the fact that she tried to demote me from the super-high level class to the a plain high level homogeneous class next door but refrained. Instead I told her I remembered parts of the unit on the solar system.  She left the conversation feeling very deflated and I felt terrible.Most of our memories are related to our emotional experiences and as I took my own trip down memory lane through my years in the public schools (I will share in a future post), my most vivid memories do not necessarily center around what happened in the classroom.  They center instead upon those moments of great emotion….joy, embarrassment, sadness, anger, guilt, fear etc.  This is not to say that I don’t remember content that was covered or that I didn’t learn anything in my years of public schools, I learned A LOT (both good and bad).

Admittedly though, it was in graduate school and beyond where my best learning took place.  This was when I was at a stage in my life when I could focus more on my education and less on what was going on in the classroom around me.  It was a time where I was responsible for and in charge of my own learning and it was in grad school where I discovered the ways in which I best learn information…..I wish I had learned this much earlier.


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One response to “My Third Grade Teacher Wants to Know….

  1. Mimi

    Agreed. Most of my schooling memories are the ones that revolved around emotional moments. Learning is highly personal and it gets depersonalized in school. That’s why we don’t really remember much. If passion wasn’t connected to the learning experience, we don’t remember. We just get through it for the report or test to survive…. then we discard it unless something emotional highlighted the event in our memory. Unfortunately, most of those emtional moments are connected to negative events. I find it particularly interesting that your third grade teacher asked about remembering content. Telling indeed! Why would she even begin to think any content you learned in the third grade would be memorable for a lifetime? Give me a break! You went on to how many more years of educational content?!?! When will teachers get that it is not the content that matters. PROCESS… process…. process…. puts ANY content the learner wants at their disposal. Did any memorabel EVENTS take place in that clas… such as a play or a community service project that all pitched in on?The question teachers should ask is how their students feel when they are in the classroom… accepted, safe, acknowledged, respected, happy, excited…. or embarassed, small, frightened, insignificant, miserable, angry.. J… how did you feel in her class… do you remember that? BTW… if you get a chance… please ask her what she remembers that she learned from you in that third grade class.There’s a lesson to be learned from every child that a teacher encounters. Same goes for a mother… Oh the lessons our children teach us!!! and we think we are their teachers! Yipes…. you’ve unleashed a lot of old stuff in me girl!!!!

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