My seventh grade Science teacher, Mrs. Caldwell, told us the very first day of junior high that she had a “teacher’s pet.” For those of you who live in a box, a “teacher’s pet” simply is the teacher’s favorite student. Or so I thought. Crazy Ethel Caldwell then proceeded to show us a picture of Ponty, her pomeranian pooch. His mug was in an 8×10 frame. He actually looked like he was posing for a school photo. His head was slightly tilted, doggy smile on his face. I burst out laughing.
Which was not the reaction she was wanting. I honestly had never seen a picture of a dog. …In a frame…. on a teacher’s desk. This was in the 1960′s before Olan Mills Studio welcomed animals into the picture…literally.
Mrs. Caldwell ignored the rude hyena laugh coming from the skinny girl in the back and continued on.
“Class, people say that teacher’s are not supposed to be have a teacher’s pet. But, I do……Meet Ponty.”
She smiled like a new parent. I looked at my bff Ramaine, who was sitting beside me, and I did the crazy pantomime with the index finger at the temple. Mrs. Caldwell was a loon.
Oh, I was so good with first impressions. She told us how Ponty was her teacher’s pet about once a month, like we had never heard it before. She also gave us a quote every single freaking day. The same quote every day.
“Today…..(pause)….is the first day…….(pause pause)….of the rest of your life.” And then she would smile a wise smile, and nod her head. Yeah, she was a loon. One time, she let a bat loose in the classroom. She called it Dorp, because her friend Dorothy had the bat in her house, and called Pete to come get it. Hence, the amalgamated “Dorp.” I remember this 35+ years after the fact, only because we heard the Dorp story at least once a week. She also told us that her friend, astronaut John Glenn, was coming to a picnic we were going to have but never had. I was pissed because she said we were going to have hot dogs and learn about space. She was also a bit mean at times and smacked our hands if we didn’t “smell” something in a beaker the right way. Apparently, while holding a beaker of flaming battery acid, one must take the other hand and brush if over the beaker to oneself. That way, the odor doesn’t go right up your nose, but swirls around and then goes up into your brain. This isn’t meant to be disrespectful in any way, but we had three students in my class die of brain tumors later in life. What if we were snorting some really bad stuff? I mean, you just never know.
But back to Mrs. Caldwell. I was thinking about her today while I was writing lesson plans for this next week while my class was at Phys Ed. I teach fourth grade and teach English, Math, Spelling, Language Arts, Reading, Social Studies, Science, Handwriting, and Writing. We teachers do it all. And I have come to the realization that…..I hate teaching Science.
Are teachers allowed to hate something they have to teach? Is that bad of me to mention this? Does this make me a terrible teacher?
Oh, hell no. It just makes me honest and that is such a fine quality for a person to possess, right?
I have to teach motion, velocity, and simple machines this month.
I would rather teach about electricity and put my finger in a light socket.
Who should I blame for my attitude? I sort of liked it when I was in fourth grade. I grew an awesome plant out of a sweet potato. I made a terrarium and had a salamander that lived in it. I even tried to make my very own ant farm, which didn’t please my mom when the ants made an escape in my bedroom. But, when it comes time to teach motion, gravity, boiling points, light bulb stuff, batteries, and the water cycle, well, I just suck.
The kids don’t know this, because I’m a professional, dammit. But, I change things around to amuse myself. It’s either that or jump out of the window while demonstrating velocity. So, I bring in matchbox cars and we have races. We make magnet cars and push them at each other to see if they will repel or attract. The pile-ups are awesome. I get a volunteer to spin around on his “axis” while making a revolution around another kid. I get off topic and talk about aliens. I get off topic and talk about Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. I get off topic and talk about the time a spider monkey climbed on my bff Ramaine’s head. Important stuff they should know.
I don’t know. Maybe they are learning something in Science. They seem to get excited when I tell them to open their Science books. But, that might just mean that they are excited that I’m done with nouns, verbs, and adjectives for the day. I do love teaching English. I love haiku poetry, and creative writing, and grammar in general. I also love teaching Social Studies. It’s my favorite subject to teach. I get a little too enthusiastic teaching about the Revolutionary War. But, science, blah.
As I finish my lesson plans, I think that tomorrow we will work a little on mixtures. You know, like how oil floats on top of water. That kind of stuff. Or maybe I will bring in different liquids and teach them how to make a Bloody Mary or a martini. We can learn about ecosytems and make some swamp water or jungle juice. That sounds like a plan.
And then I can sit back and quietly make a toast to Mrs. Caldwell.
“Here’s to you, Mrs. Caldwell…….Tomorrow begins today, you old loon, you.”