Do you remember report day?
I have not had one in years, so imagine my excitement at the end of last year, when I received my final report for first year. The NERVES!
Feeling like a kiddo back at school reminded me of my years at Brighton Beach Senior Primary School, diminutive, pig-tailed Jodi van Wyk bounced up to the door of grade 4CR and met the kindest woman: she wore a blue sundress with purple flowers and taught us how to say her surname name using a rhyme from Winnie the Pooh. She held my hand when I refused to let go of the wall during swimming…even when I cried hysterically because it was my first time in a pool that large.
She also was the first teacher to give me detention. This, after she moved me around the classroom repeatedly, and I kept making friends and talking to them (oh, eight-year-old Jodi was the dream). She even moved my desk flush against hers…but I spoke her ears off. By the time I left her class, she called me “Miss Jodi Chatterbox” – I still have a note she wrote me with that name, on.
Every teacher I had after her berated me for talking too much. Nearly all of my reports say, “Jodi is a lovely child, but she talks too much”. I’ve been out of school for 15 years and I still flinch when people tell me I talk too much. When they do, I remember the teacher who found ways to let me prattle without driving her insane, like encouraging me to sign up for the speech and drama festival, annual productions, and choir. How she worked with me during break-time for my debut performance of ‘Aunt Ella Rumpling’ for the school’s active arts evening.
Imagine my childlike delight when I met her in December, after realising she lives here. My pigtails are gone and I’m a bit taller, but she had not changed a smidgen. “Miss Chatterbox,” she laughed. “Still talking!” Yes, I’m still talking. What she does not know is that she was one of few who never stomped on my talkativeness, never told me I was ‘too much’ but who showed me that there were ways to use my voice positively. That, every time I speak in public, I remember how she stood at the back of the classroom teaching me to speak louder, slower and with expression.
As the school year eases in, I hope this story resonates with you. If you’re a teacher, never underestimate the impact you might have on a littlie. If you’re a littlie reading this, I hope you meet a teacher who changes the way you think about a quirk others might find “too much”.
Claire (she gave me permission to call her that) was, and always will be, that teacher for me.
Have a wonderful year!