Friday, May 25, 2007

My Favorite Teacher

by G.Parker

This time of year makes me think back to when I was in school, anticipating the glorious time of summer vacation. I teach in an elementary school, but I'm not coming back next year, so this is kind of a bittersweet farewell thought. I look at these kids and I wonder where they are going to be in 10 years. What are they going to be doing?

I was reading someone's thoughts on how they used to skip classes in high school, and it made me think about my high school years. I was an average student. I didn't get in trouble, I didn't outshine anyone else--I was just there. So in some ways that's good, but in other ways, it's bad. (that's for another blog though.)

My favorite teacher was my creative writing teacher (big surprise, right?) I don't remember his name -- I don't even remember what he looked like. But I remember that he encouraged us to write. Simply to just put our thoughts down on paper. We got to count anything for the word count--word count was our grade. Sometimes he would give us a sentence and we had to write a paragraph continuing that thought, but usually, it was just our own imagination being put on paper.

This was the time period where I started doing most of my writing. I wrote two or three stories--nothing that anyone will EVER read fortunately--and he read almost all of them. He never said anything like "This is trash - this isn't worth my time - where did you get that dumb idea," etc. He was the best first critic anyone could have. I still have some of my papers from his class, simply because they were something someone had thought had worth.

When I moved to Utah , and suddenly had a younger sister (my prayers had been answered!) she used to motivate me by encouraging me to write smaller. I don't remember why, looking back on it, but I do remember her challenging me to see how small I could get the writing. I looked at getting a thousand words on a lined piece of paper as a personal challenge. It didn't seem to really matter what I was writing, only that I filled the paper. Her reward? A large chewy Sweet Tart. Yum! Now, I would insist on something chocolate... and I still have some of those pages--it's wild to think I could get it that small!

Now that I'm all grown up (when did that happen?) and I use a computer instead of paper, I can't use that kind of challenge. Not only would I not be able to SEE it (honey, where are my reading glasses?) but no one else would either. Funny how my challenge is still word count, but it's more than that. It's the whole picture. It's the bigger picture, actually--I want to see something published.

So, while I don't worry about the size of the print, or how pretty it looks, I'm still worried about what someone thinks of it. I'm fortunate that my hubby likes my writing, though he isn't as laid back as my writing teacher was - he'll tell me if he thinks something needs work. And it usually does.


C. L. Beck said...

Thank goodness for those rare teachers that make us feel we can accomplish anything, and that we have talent. You were lucky to have one when you were in high school.

Good job on this blog.

Karlene said...

I had a teacher like that. He was coordinator of one of those programs they put you in as a last ditch effort to reform you before they expel you.

We had to keep a journal and write in it every day. No way was I going to write my true thoughts or emotions. So I started a story, which turned into my first novella. Every week he would write encouraging positive comments in the margins. He was the one that made me feel like I really could be a published author some day.