I was recently chatting with a friend from childhood. We have not seen each other in decades and, in fact, we have spent most of our adult lives in different parts of the world. To be honest, I had even forgotten that we went to the same school because we were not the same age and did not socialize there. We met in a totally different context – the swimming pool! (i.e., we both swam on the same competitive swim team for several years). Still, it was a fascinating discussion because so much of what we talked about related to our experience in the same school.
When I chat with anyone from that time, they are usually surprised by the details I can recall – every teacher’s name, what they taught, where their classroom was, and what kind of extracurricular activity they led. It’s locked in my brain and it takes no effort to recollect the details. Good and bad, happy and sad, my school experiences are always there just below the surface ready to be shared and reflected upon. I wonder if it is the same with most people?
Maybe it’s because I have spent my life and career in schools. I think that is part of it. School as a living organism is “in my DNA” you might say. I am probably not unique when it comes to teachers and memories of school. I mean people chose to teach for a reason and some of those reasons must overlap. Teachers like to work with people and relate to others, and they realize that they have a huge privilege in being able to serve children – or at least they should!
I passed a herd of primary children in the hallway this week. They all chirruped “hi” to me as they filed past. One child looked up and said, “Hey, I like your tie, Mr. Anderson!”. I replied thank you and then a classmate piped up, “What do you mean? He wears that every day!”
It made me laugh out loud because I have about 80 ties and I had not worn this particular one in a few months.
Our kids! They are not always real detail people, are they? They can sometimes recall or relate “details” with passion and they are not always bothered by “the facts” (…I suspect child number two might have been trying to say that Mr. A wears a tie every day).
It was so great for our teachers to be able to chat with you last week during our parent-teacher meetings. Our opportunity to discuss the progress and plans for students is always a welcome task and helps to keep us all on the same page.
Sometimes that “page” will not be one that has been “bookmarked” by our sons or daughters. When we open the book to that page, they may even try to create a diversion by pleading their case – especially if, as partners, we are trying to motivate or inspire them along the path to “a particular paragraph”.
It helps to remember that where quick-thinking kids are involved (….“Yikes! Both my parents and teacher are on to me!”), we promise not to believe 100% of what they say happens at home, if you do us the same favour in return!
As a former self-interested elementary student myself, I remember the temptation to run fast and loose with the details at times when the hounds of accountability got nipping at my heels.
But some of my best memories of school involve the teachers who – for my own good – didn’t turn a blind eye and kept me accountable.
If I am being honest, those are the ones I still remember best!
Ric Anderson, Head of School