In high school I was extremely quiet, as my peers would remember. Going to an all-women's college brought me out of my shell. By the time I began teaching high school in 1988, I had decided that no one would run over me. I commanded authority from day one, no matter how big the students were. I really have few specific memories from that time at Ruffin High, but I remember many of the students. This week I was reminiscing on Facebook, and the dialogue I had with one of them is below.
I find it amusing she said I was "mean as a whip." Many would call it that; I was strict. I don't actually think she meant "mean." She did follow it up with saying I "sincerely took an interest" in them. I have no recollection of having given her a bear when she was in the hospital. I do remember before the students came my first year, I was making my classroom library of paperback books I had bought at the Ladson Flea Market for .25 each. I made library check out cards for the back of each one. I expected my students to read and read the classics. I recall another teacher coming in my room and asking, "Why are you doing that? They won't read." I was undeterred. We may have struggled, but we made it through Great Expectations, Romeo and Juliet, and MacBeth, "A Doll's House," and "Death of a Salesman," among so many other classics. I was naive perhaps. I didn't know what a Title One school was. I simply expected them to do, so we wrote research papers. I may or may not have violated copyright laws with vocabulary pages from a book *my* English teacher had used with my class. But, by darn, my students were going to learn the same words I did.
Then, I lose it when I hear, again on FB, from one of these "boys" who said he owes his vast vocabulary to me. I lose it when one of my stars revealed he had no indoor plumbing until middle school and that I didn't have to know back then because it might have colored my view of him.
These are the sweetest memories.