My letter today is inspired by Pinky.
I know that you will have teachers you struggle with…we won’t mention names (actually Isabel is excluded because she has loved all her teachers up to this point). But yes, there are those teachers that have been hired by the school district and you will wonder why they became qualified to teach you skills in life. You will wonder just what happened to the system when the substitute in front of you tells you about his hired psychic that predicted eating cow meat would make your teeth fall out. You will have those teachers with inflated ego’s, and others who will collide with your thinking on how you interpret life, write stories and express thought. Oh, and then you may have a teacher who is beyond all others…. beyond all other experts, all powerful and all knowing in her subject….You may innocently sign up for the class, needing a credit, hoping for fun, and all of sudden before you will be “THE TEACHER of all TEACHERS.” For me her name was Pinky, and she taught a college PE class…. called “LIFEGUARD TRAINING.”
In college, I signed up for this class because I needed it for my summer lifeguarding job. It would fulfill a college PE credit. The first day of class this 5’2”, petite, 70 year old woman stood up in front of us to let us know the “what for”. She was our professor, our teacher, our mentor and now our master. At first, I was a bit surprised by her funny demeanor and I thought she was a cute character. But then, she had us dress down to get into the swimming pool and words cannot describe what I saw. After getting my swimsuit on, I headed to the pool and there she was. She was dressed in a pink checkered swimming suit with a skirt, a swim cap with flowers, and goggles….But what got me, and alarmed my class, was the Madonna cones in her chest. I am not making this up. I was in shock and awe. There she stood with all authority, and pointy things in her chest. When she got into the water, the cones in her chest acted like flotation devices and honestly, I had never seen such a site. This was my teacher.
Needless to say Pinky was a difficult teacher. She used public humiliation as a teaching tool, yelled and lectured endlessly at students and pretty much treated our class like 1st graders sending students to the corner and all. She gave us more assignments then all my classes put together and graded all our papers like we were in an English class (although she was not an expert in this area).
I am not going to lie….I hated the class, I complained to the Dean of Students four times, and then one day, the Dean looked at me and said, “I know, your right, hang in there.” I did make it….barely.
I did learn something in her class. I learned how to handle a difficult personality. I learned patience. I learned that you have to stand up for yourself and I learned about power and respect.
So girls, when trouble comes and teachers are difficult, just imagine….Pinky in her swimsuit and know that I truly understand and will do all I can to coach you through the tough times.
My girls would love stories about your craziest teacher and how you handled it! Please share.
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Mom, you were there for me! We had some good laughs after I shed some good tears.
Pinky brings back one of those frustrating (but funny) college experiences you never forget. Even though she drove you crazy, your stories gave the rest of us a good laugh.
Great story Gail. Thanks for sharing.
And then, Patricia, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get the vision of bouncing, pink, Madonna cones out of my head…thank you very much!
My favorite story (well, not my favorite, but the one that had a lasting affect on me) about the teacher I didn’t get a long with… well, first I have to admit that I went to an all girls school. And it was a Catholic school. AND this teacher was a NUN! (Well, not a nun, because that would mean that she was cloistered and therefore not participating in the “outside” world.) Question she put to the class: “What does this poem mean to you?” I was rather shy in high school, but I put myself out there, raised my hand and told her. I don’t remember what the poem was, who wrote it, or what my response was. I do remember her comment to me was, “No, that is not right.” Totally shut me up in her class. I went to the vice-principal, told her my problem, I would like to be removed from her class. Vice-principal’s response was that the school year was almost over and I should just “stick it out.” Well, that I did. I no longer offered any input in her class, went to class with a book to read, and when the final came along, I put my name on it and handed it in. I got a C in the class.
What did I learn from this teacher? It didn’t show itself for a long time after, but when I became a teacher, I knew how important it is not to shut a student down with an absolute “no” but to help the student come around to the right answer. I learned that maybe, when the quietest student in the class finally wants to contribute, it may take everything she has on the inside to raise her hand with a response. I learned that when you say, “No” to a “what do YOU think” question, you are not only saying no to the answer, but “no” to every ounce of self-confidence it took to build up the courage to raise that person’s hand.
Yes, I should have responded in a different way. My response was very immature. It did take a while for my “lesson” to come to fruition, but I pray that I never treat a student in that manner.
May not be very inspirational, but it is the story I’ll never forget about high school.