You might be shocked to know that I was not always a good student. I know, I know, all teachers were great students, right? Not so much with me. Don’t worry–I got it together by the time I got to high school, but those first years were a bit iffy.
I know this because my mom saved everything I ever touched as a child. Every report card, assignment sent home, newspaper clipping, and runner-up award are neatly organized in yellow file folders, which she recently decided that, at 33 years old, I am responsible enough take possession of, and isn’t that lucky for y’all?
Today I had to put in behavior comment codes for the progress reports — a Middle School Thing that I never knew about when I taught high school. It reminded me of the days when I got the “bad” comment codes.
SO, to honor that, we’re taking a little trip down Bad School-Memory Lane today.
This is my pre-kindergarten screening. You had to pass it to be enrolled in kindergarten, and I distinctly remember that one of the things I had to do was walk on a balance beam. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know if they still do this, but the 80’s were strange, man.
This was also the first clue that I needed glasses. Plus, they noted my “great verbal skills.” As a teacher, this is what I say to the parents of those kids who just never shut up. “He’s really great at participating in class!” = “OMG I think your son may possibly consume a candy bar and a Red Bull on the daily!” Yep, I was that kid.
My kindergarten report card shows that, even though I could barely see, I still managed to show competency in many areas. Math has never been my strength, but at least I was confident? And I still mess up left and right most of the time. No one showed me that trick where your left hand makes an ‘L’ until middle school. Come on, people!
The thing I remember most about kindergarten was the Letter People. They were puppets who had something to do with the letters of the alphabet, and for our first big “homework” assignment, I was supposed to bring in something that started with the letter “n”. I decided to bring “nothing” because that started with N, but when I presented this to the class, the teacher said I was lying and had forgotten. My parents were called and I probably cried and I still hate the letter N.
In second grade, I really took a downward spiral. My handwriting was sloppy (still is), and apparently I had “organization problems” and managed to lose an entire reading textbook. I’m sure my parents were thrilled. Ironically, I grew up to be a super organized, anal retentive perfectionist. I blame it on the second grade.
As a teacher, few things make me more frustrated than the slow-moving kids. The ones who think of “a thousand other things to do” before getting out their bell ringer notebooks. My pencil must need re-sharpening. Wait! I need to turn off my phone. Perhaps I will look for that other paper from three weeks ago and then ask the teacher a question? Oh, I need a drink of water too! OMG getoutyourfreakingnotebookandstartwritingNOW!
And to think, I was totally that kid. Cringe.
My last real “problem” in school happened in fifth grade. It was the only time I ever got a C in school. Reading and language arts were my favorite classes, and I read constantly. I love love loved to read, so this was probably quite a shock to my parents.
My teacher assigned us the book Adam of the Road. I read a few pages, flipped through the rest, and decided it was boring. At home, when I encountered a book I didn’t like, I just picked another one. So I walked right up to his desk, and I told him that I had decided not to read it because it was boring.
He and I fought that battle for weeks, and my parents had to come in for a conference. No amount of yelling or begging worked. I put my ten-year-old foot down. I never did read Adam of the Road, and I took the C.
After that year, I guess I figured out how to play the school game and fell in line. My grades got better, and by high school I had all A’s just about every semester.
But it’s kind of fun to look back and imagine the nightmares I caused my teachers and parents at the beginning of it all.
PPS: If you are not stopping over from my guest post, then check out Venus Trapped in Mars today to read about the best college football traditions!