TELLING A STORY - in the words of Barry Lopez in "Crow and Weasel"
The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to
give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.
That is why we put these stories in each other's memory. This is how people care for themselves.
Dear Teachers of Grade 6 through the teenage years.
Do you have a story to tell about you as a teacher "being there" for some student(s) in a very significant
way? I have been a teacher for over forty years. I have a great love for the profession as well as an
admiration for those who live this vocation. As we know, it is much more than a full time job. It is a way of
life that demands time, energy and often, sacrifice. However, the rewards in human development are great.
It is my intention to collect short teacher stories(100-250 words) which give witness to your priceless
presence in students' lives. The motivation that keeps a good teacher in the profession is the difference you
can make in the lives of young people. It is a tough, grinding, daily chore, punctuated by many "aha's", and
revelations, always new, always surprising, often endearing.
I invite you to share a story or two. One about a teacher who made a difference in your life at a specific
moment; one about your crucial presence in a student's life. In the 100-250 words, please feel free to add
your own reflections about the experiences.
For a side bar, please answer the following questions in a phrase or two. 1) What is one personal quality that
has been essential to you in your success as a teacher? (i.e. enthusiasm, patience, humor, sensitivity,
discipline, organized person). 2)What is one thing you gained personally in your life from being in this
vocation? (I.e.:an insight, self revelation., staying young, always hope-filled, friends of all ages, the challenge
to keep on learning, daily laughter, etc.)
I would like to devote one page for each teacher story. My aim is to collect all these stories into a bedside
book which will remind you daily that you are in the greatest, most important profession in the world. Your
stories will be read, edited and returned to you for approval before printing. Identities will be protected by
using pseudonyms. Teachers will be identified only as " a teacher of quality - Enthusiasm!)
I have several titles in mind right now, but to initiate this project I am calling it "THE TEACHER IS KEY!" I
know that your time is very short - a writing assignment is all you need right now in the midst of your busy
schedule. If you would like to just write a draft and allow me to polish it - that would be great! I need your
stories, however they come. I hope you view this endeavour as something as important as I do. I am
including a few examples -.
If you have any ideas or refinements about this idea - I'd appreciate your input.
As I receive the stories I will look for themes. Also, stories will be arranged according to the months of the
school year. So, if you think your story fits into a particular month, please specify. As the process refines
itself, I will ask you to sign a release form, allowing me to include your story in my little book. Related to
anyone who is a teacher, I remain, Anne Mulvaney
Sample stories for Anne's book.
The story of Tom (not his real name)
Once , when I first started teaching a Grade 6 class in a middle class neighborhood., the principal
approached me to say that I would be getting a very unusual student - a street kid from the Carribean. He
was 3 years older than the others but very small. He had only been in school for 5 months in his whole life.
His story was the most tragic I had every heard. He had suffered major injuries to his body in a car accident
Before he arrived I talked to the other thirty one children, one of whom was so deaf I had to wear a special
microphone all the time, (another first). . I informed the students that things might be a little different this
year, and that the best thing we could do would be to make this a class effort. Tom's behaviour and lack of
work habits might be a big obstacle so we would just have to make allowances for him. Well, it was
definitely the most unusual teaching/learning experience that we all had. Tom could not sit down for more
than five minutes. His method of taking care of himself was to sharpen his pencil. Our supply of pencils had
to be replaced once a month. He looked over everyone's work and no one made a fuss!! He was a street
child with a great memory. He learned fast and he remembered. well. He really wanted to succeed. He
actually passed in enough work to be allowed to go to grade 7. It was his chance to make a go of life. But,
he came from the street and he was a double-jointed, quick as lightning fighter. The bullies in the yard soon
learned to leave him alone. He was charismatic. With a Robert Service poem "Comfort", he won a school
speaking contest. The students who are now adults still talk about what a fantastic year that was, each one
still in awe of this unique young man, and having contributed to the welfare of our special person. Whatever
happened to him, we don't know.
Having replaced a teacher who died and teaching a Grade 10 French class for a month into the semester, I
dared to invite a provincial inspector in(the school was being evaluated), to listen to duets of conversations
centered around the theme of discotheque. Well, these students had found it difficult to accept strict little me
after the experience of a young basketball coach teacher and they chose this day to retaliate. Two students
chose to go to the discotheque, be bored, and retire to the young man's hotel room. Their subsequent
conversation caused me total embarrassment. I didn't know whether to stop them or pray that they would
soon be done Fellow students could hardly control their glee. I sneaked a peak at the inspector. She
seemed completely oblivious to what was said. She could not understand French! The enthusiasm she
witnessed granted us an A+.
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