Can’t Stop the Teacher

Can’t stop the teacher seemed like the logical title for this little blurb. Or maybe can’t stop the parent. But the more I think about it, maybe it’s just plain old common sense. You can’t stop common sense.

It’s always been hard for me, as a teacher, to act like I’m off duty. Just as I’m sure it’s hard for off-duty police officers to ignore potential problems and citizens on the fringe of breaking the law, it’s difficult for me to let teachable moments pass by or, as it sometimes seem, to not redirect or reprimand children who need it, whether they are in my charge or not.

Today I was out walking with my dog, along the river path and back through my neighborhood. I came upon a home with a fenced yard, where three children were playing–a preschooler and two older girls around the ages of five and seven. My first thought was how nice it was that the kids were playing outside. But as I got closer, I heard the boy crying and saw that he was running away from the girls. It was a small yard and he couldn’t get very far from them. Both girls were carrying sticks and, as I walked by, I thought I saw the oldest girl throw her stick at the boy’s head. I wasn’t sure.

But then she bent over and picked up a larger stick. It looked like a piece of firewood. And as I watched, she hurled it at the boy’s head, from a distance of about ten feet. Luckily, he ducked and screamed and ran away.

“Hey!” I yelled. All three of them stopped, the girl’s mouth drooping open. Who could be yelling at her? Who was even watching her?

“You stop throwing sticks at him,” I said in my loud, firm teacher voice. “It’s dangerous and it’s mean.”

The girl said nothing, did nothing, just continued gaping at me.

I don’t know if it’s appropriate to reprimand other people’s children, especially when the kids are in their own yard. But I can’t help myself. A young child was getting tormented and no one was around. Where was the parent, the babysitter, whomever should have done this instead of me?

You can’t just turn kids loose and expect all to go well. Someone needs to be there, to parent, to teach. It’s a matter of common sense, isn’t it?

The episode reminded me of when my kids were toddlers and we went to the park and how my inner teacher/inner parent/inner common sense was impossible to control. I can’t tell you how many children, in addition to my own, I taught to not throw sand at others, to not push the younger, slower kids down the slide just to speed things along, to not walk in front of the swings. It seems I was always the teacher on recess duty, the playground police woman, the woman who wouldn’t just sit on the bench and read a book like many of the other moms seemed to be doing.


There have been times over the years when I’ve told myself to turn it off, ignore it, just walk on by. But when I did, when I did just walk on by because it was, theoretically, none of my concern, not my responsibility, not my business, I always felt bad afterward. I knew I had missed a teachable moment, even if the only lesson was that hey, people are watching you and you can’t do whatever you feel like doing. You need to be thinking and acting morally and appropriately.

So what’s your opinion? Should I just mind my own business (try to, anyway)? Do you ever get involved in situations like these? How do you feel afterward?


Let’s see beginning through your lens! (Weekly Photo Challenge)

As a kindergarten teacher for more than a decade, I got to see many students’ early attempts at writing. The way five- and six-year-olds use sound-letter correspondence, express their ideas and knowledge, and write with no concern of being judged was always inspiring.

I hope you enjoy these writing samples, which show how empowering literacy is and the beginning of the understanding of this: What I think, I can say; what I say, I can write; what I write can be read by others.








Backseat Teacher

Backseat DriverIf a backseat driver is a vehicle passenger in the back seat who is not controlling the vehicle and seems to be uncomfortable with the skills of the driver and/or wants to tutor the driver while the driver is at the wheel (definition courtesy of Wikipedia), then…

…a backseat teacher is a classroom teacher who has taken a backseat and who is currently not controlling the learning of the students and seems to be uncomfortable with the skills of the teacher who is in charge of the class and/or wants to tutor that teacher while the teacher is at the front of the class (definition courtesy of moi).

It would seem that that’s how the analogy would go.


Back to School from a Teacher’s Point of View

It’s Back-to-School time. I know, not because of the date on the calendar; I can just sense it. First, I’m starting to feel a bit worthless, feeling like I’m not contributing to society as I should be. I miss my work, my purpose, my colleagues, the kids. And, my body is sufficiently confused about whether it’s nap time or night-time. It’s no wonder. Summertime means goofy sleep patterns—staying up writing until 12:15, then waking suddenly at 3:10 a.m. (Is the nap over?), playing racquetball at 5:00 a.m., and then returning home to sleep some more. Yes, it’s time to get back to a regular schedule.

There are two unique things about teaching that I wish applied to all employed people. And, no, I’m not going to say June and July. More