SOS: A Little Help Please

  In the 3rd grade, i had a teacher who must have been in her first year.
  i will call her "Mrs. Mack."
  She was charming. 
As far as i could tell, we all adored her.  i did, anyway  Remember that, as you continue reading about

Her Imperfect Year with Our Class

  Teachers should never engage in running feuds with a student, particularly when that student is a child rather than a perhaps a college kid.  And ideally a teacher should not raise feelings of hatred in parents.

Note to Parent

  Actually all i know about her run-in with my mom was from my mom's side, and my mom reported things hotly.
  Mrs. Mack could see me, sitting quietly in the back, coughing constantly and stuffing used tissues in my desk, at the rate of a full-size box a week.  This went on most of the school year.
  It is easy to imagine a teacher writing what seemed, to her, a delicate note home about a kid in need of medical attention for an endless cold.
  What i'm sure my mom had not previously told her is that i had been diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, and was receiving shots from my doctor every month.  No doubt the treatment, and possibly even diagnosis, would be different today, but that was the best that could be done at the time.
  And on receiving the note, whatever it actually said, my mom went ballistic.  Mrs. Mack was, to her, a horrible person from then on.

The Ain't Battle

How It Began

  One of my classmates had a habit of using the word, "ain't."
  There are all sorts of reasons why this is not a great idea, but i can understand that it would have been an ingrained habit and difficult to break.
  Mrs. Mack chose to believe that "Dan" was defying her by continuing to use the word.  She insisted that "ain't is not a word.  It isn't in the dictionary.  Look it up!"
  She had him do this in front of us all -- and there it was.
  There for all to see, "ain't" was in the dictionary.
  True, it was labeled "slang," and otherwise noted as substandard (click here for a short, informative article on "ain't"), but catching the teacher in a lie tickled us all. 


  This was early in the year.
  As Dan continued to use the word - and if he hadn't been defying her before, he sure  seemed to be afterward - Mrs. Mack stepped up her digs at him.  Not once could Dan say "ain't" without being chided for it.
  On the last day of school, she brought sandwich boards, regular poster board signs for him to wear hanging from his shoulders.
  One side said, "I Like the Word Ain't."  The other said, "Ain't Baby."
  Dan was to wear these signs and walk the halls of the school.
  Dan walked right out the door.
  Our whole class, and Mrs. Mack, watched in fascinated horror as Dan walked through the playground and over to the unfenced railroad yard.
  This is my last memory of 3rd grade.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  In the depth of winter, Mrs. Mack decided to do a read-aloud.
  In second grade, another teacher had had us do book reports, which were allowed to include partial read-alouds, but never had teachers themselves done read-alouds for us.
  Mrs. Mack chose Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, by Ian Fleming.
  i was enthralled.  i was sitting on the edge of my seat in the back of the room.
  She read two times, then stopped.
  A couple of weeks later, i asked timidly when she was going to read again.
  She casually said, "Oh, I'm not going to.  Nobody was paying any attention."
  NOBODY?  Then, that means that i'm. . . .

The Point

Conversation with a Librarian:  i remembered this today because

 i needed to ask our reference librarian for Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer.  Last spring i volunteered to be one of the moderators for a new Westside special needs bookclub sponsored by Village of Merici.  The book club is finally ready to go, and i need to prepare to do whatever a moderator will be doing.
  Anyway, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was on the next shelf, and i felt it necessary to tell the librarian about the read-aloud experience.

  She asked me if i promptly went to check it out.

  Actually, no.  Maybe if i'd perceived it to be about the Potts family, i would have, but i perceived it to be about a car.
  And yes, i should have checked it out & read it right then.  Misunderstandings, ya know?  i did finally read MyGuy's copy to Boom when Boom was in about 3rd grade.  i loved it then as much or more than in 3rd grade.  i hope someone, maybe Boom? - makes a movie that closely follows the book someday.  The MGM one is good, but so different as to be a very different story  (when you click the link, be sure to scroll down - below all the lovely car shots is an indepth discussion of the differences).

The librarian said she's always telling teachers

that they need to read aloud to their kids.  Adults keep telling her how they remember teachers reading to them, they remember that particular book.  It doesn't always LOOK like they're paying attention.  Max, and many on and off the spectrum, pay attention better when they don't look like they're paying attention.


Mrs. Mack, A Diamond in the Rough?

  Well, now that i've told you three ways in which Mrs. Mack was a Bad Teacher, though charismatic, here's why i hope she managed to somehow stay in the classroom.
  What do you think are the chances of a third grade teacher keeping her students riveted to a story of her prom date?
  Mrs. Mack did.
  Okay, the story involved a hoop skirt, which is full of humorous possibilities on its own, but still. . . 
  That tells me this was a woman who belonged in front of kids.  She needed more training.  (Actually, my mom could've used some help too.  i learned from a lot of her interactions:  Tell the teacher BEFORE it becomes a problem!)
  Not getting it right first time out should not mean being barred forever from the place you may have been born to be.

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