School Memories Linky!

I'm linking up with another Jennifer from Simply K to share school memories today!

 I was painfully shy as a child. In fact, for the first five years of my life I thought my name was "Myanna" because that's how my mother would refer to me: "That's my Anna hiding behind the chair." or "My Anna is over in the corner." etc. Anna is my middle name by the way. My Dutch mother named me Jennifer Anna not realizing that people would shorten Jennifer to Jen or Jenny. Once she realized it she insisted I be called by my middle name since you can't really shorten Anna or you get a different name completely (Dutch logic!).

I absolutely hated my name growing up - I always thought if I had a "cooler" name than Anna I would be more outgoing/popular etc. I started going by Jennifer in college, but it never really stuck because my family still called me Anna. When I met my husband he told me that Anna did not suit me (smart man!) and he has steadfastly introduced me as "Jenn" to everyone for the past 13 years even though my family continues to call me Anna lol!

By the way, my mom had also inexplicably given me the same uneven bowl cut as my brother.  I also didn't smile much because of my teeth. I had fallen and jammed my front teeth back up into my gums (running in patent leather shoes is not a good idea!) and when they eventually came back down they were  crooked. Here's a picture, detailing the horror of late 70's fashion lol:

Anyways, that was me,  painfully shy and name confused. When I entered kindergarten on my first day of school, I desperately wanted to please.

Except that we had desks.

That were all lined up in rows.

You know, those rows that never stay straight and the desks that are forever scootching so that they aren't perfectly aligned any more?

Well I wrapped my little fingers along the edge of the desk and tried to scootch it back into place. At the same time, the child next to me scooted their desk and my fingers got pinched between the two desks - hard! And I cried out - loudly - and got yelled at by my teacher.

I was absolutely mortified and tried to explain but she cut me off and scolded me for raising my voice in class. There was never a reason to be so loud! I was so miserable after that, I didn't think I would ever recover, I just sat in my chair with my fingers throbbing and tried not to cry. I don't remember anything else specifically from that year but I do remember always feeling embarrassed and anxious- as if that first day set the tone for the whole year.

In first grade, my clearest memory is of being in a small reading group. I think we were some type of birds - I have a vague memory of not being one of the "cool birds" and realizing I was not in the smart group. I was supposed to be reading silently, and the teacher was working with a different group. But I had to go to the bathroom, bad! I held it as long as I could and then raised my hand to ask permission to go to the bathroom. I got scolded for interrupting small group time. I held it another few minutes and then got out of my chair and approached the teacher to ask again. She got really upset this time and sent me to the hallway for time out.

I sat in the hallway and realized that I couldn't hold it any more. So I snuck my hand back in the door and grabbed the hallway stick and scooted to the bathroom. I had barely gotten in the stall when another child from class came barreling in the restroom, yelling that the teacher had said I better get back to class right now. Well I was torn between using the toilet first or going back to class and I ended up having an accident right there in the stall. I was so humiliated. I had to tell the other girl that I wet myself, she went and told the teacher and I got sent to the office to sit and wait for my grandmother to bring me some clean clothes. When my grandmother got there I got a big scolding from her too!

So there you have it. The first two years of grade school, remembered because of embarrassment. I think those two incidents really defined me as a teacher - I never ever want to humiliate or embarrass a child the way I was!

One of the first things I do at the beginning of the year is go over bathroom procedure. The bathroom is actually part of the scavenger hunt at the Meet the Teacher night before school! I want to make sure everyone knows where it is :)

In my class, students only have to ask to use the bathroom if we're at carpet doing a whole group lesson. If they're at their seats working independently, they just go whenever they need to without asking. If we're at carpet they raise a hand with "w" (three fingers) for washroom, or do the sign language sign for "r r" which stands for restroom. These silent hand signals let me just nod to the child without interrupting the flow of the lesson.

Oh, and I only have tables in my room - no scootching desks for me!

Now go head over and link up - tell me how your school memories impact you as a teacher!

9 Rustle Up A Response!:

Pam Schmidt said... Reply to comment

Firstly, I must tell you that based on your photo/age, I believe we are about the same age. So I believe many teachers were of the same style & approach. Your story of K & 1st really tugged at my heart. Even if it was the first day of school, a teacher has a sense of who are the shy students. I think a that yelling at a child, particularly on the first day, is unreasonably harsh. I'm a k teacher who is a bit more "old school". When my K students cry excessively or unreasonably, I tend to tell them gently that they need to try & stop. Yet if they cry within reason, I pat them, try to console, and let it run it's course.
My primary teachers were old school, like I said. They were loving, & orderly. I loved them, even thought they weren't extremely huggy & gushy. I think I tend to be the same kind of teacher. And I am viewed as a bit old school among my peers. The only way I am different than my primary teachers is in the way I like to be silly with my students. That gives all of us the break we need from the demands of academics.

Corinna said... Reply to comment

We did both have a rough start:{ I think this little linky has turned into therapy for us, lol! It's good to know that we will work hard to build a safe and caring classroom for our kids, that they will have fond memories of.

Surfin' Through Second

Tricia said... Reply to comment

I love your post. You sparked a lot of memories that I had forgotten a long time ago. I hated school k-2. I remember sitting on my dad's lap crying because reading was so hard for me. I had teachers who terrified me. I had a teacher who insisted on calling children by their legal names, no nicknames. I hated being called Patricia. I was young (August birthday) and shy. I had a lisp. I went to title one for reading. By third grade we moved and I got a teacher that changed everything. She was a first year teacher,so kind and enthusiastic. She is the reason I became a teacher. One teacher can change a child's life.

My mom is Dutch also. I was in high school before I knew you didn't pronounce toilet with a short o sound. There were a ton of words I thought were English until I would use them in front of friends only to learn they were Dutch words.

My folks struggled with finding names that were pretty in both English and Dutch. When I named my youngest son (now 19) Alexander. All of our friends and family in Holland thought I named him after the crown prince.

Thank you for your awesome post,

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

Oh I love you!! And I know you are so open a loving to your students as well.
I too let kids "GO" when ever they need.
I was kicked out of class in first grade for whistling.. yep the Andy Griffin Show theme song. AND I was so proud of myself for figuring out HOW to whistle. So I sat for a VERY long time.. outside the door of the class- perfecting my tune!!
And.. I was never one of the blue birds.. or the red birds... come to think of it was I in the ANGRY BIRDS group? ha ha ha ha

Owl Things First said... Reply to comment

I love this Linky. I'm going to have to link up...My name is Jennifer! K-12 were kind of tough for me. I try to make school a better experience for my firsties than I had.

Owl Things First

Kelly said... Reply to comment

It's hard to imagine some of the things that were allowed to happen in school. that was a time when a teacher was respected as the authority and I guess parents didn't question that authority. I had a teacher that did some rather crazy things and I have often thought she would have had a lawsuit slapped on her if she were teaching today.

I'm glad you overcame your trauma to become the teacher you are today. :)

Kelly @ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

School Sparks Renee said... Reply to comment

Thanks for sharing your memories. I was a quiet and shy kid too, but was fortunate to have a loving K and 1st grade teacher. It makes all the difference in the world!

Cindy Foreman said... Reply to comment

Oh my goodness what a rough start!! I barely remember K or 1st but I had a doozy of a teacher in 2nd grade. First off she insisted that my name could not be Cindy, and that my name MUST be Cynthia and for 2 weeks she insisted I write Cynthia on my papers, my name is NOT Cynthia (my mom and dad were big on not naming us one thing so we could be called another - my legal name is Cindy and my sister is Kathy - both Katherine) and as a 2nd grader I had no idea how to spell it so I got into trouble for that. It literally took my mom coming to the school and telling the teacher that my legal name was in fact Cindy. Then a little later in the year we were learning about families and I said that I had 2 nephews who were 4 and 2 years old and that I was going to have another niece or nephew very soon (which I DID because my sister is 14 years older than me and I had been an aunt since I was 4 years old) and my teacher proceeded to basally call me a liar and tell me that I did NOT have 2 nephews, that they had to be my cousins. The next day my very pregnant sister brought my 2 nephews to the school to pick me up and I still remember her saying to my teacher "Hello, I'm Cindy's sister Kathy, not Katherine by the way, and these are her two NEPHEWS, it is very nice to meet you!" I don't think that teacher ever corrected me on personal issues again LOL Oh and I also remember being in some bird reading group! I didn't realize there was a difference, I do know that I was pretty high, they wanted my mom to let me skip 2nd grade and go straight to 3rd grade - she wouldn't let me.

Jill said... Reply to comment

I went to private kindergarten, so there is not much to tell. I'll tell you one incident that really shaped me as a teacher. When I was in fourth grade my teacher on the first day of school, had us switch the desks around. I noticed that I was sitting on the front row with the kids in my reading group. There were five of us. Behind us was the second reading group and so on. Well I was in the successful or in those days top reading group. Then the average group was behind us and way in the back (yes, the back can you believe it) were the kids who needed the most help. It stayed that way all year, I have always wondered what those poor little guys in the back felt like, because when you go to school with the same kids year after year everyone is aware who needs help. I never sit my students in groups like that and I keep my groups very fluid so that, things are always changing for everyone. Children are the reason we teach, they should be given all the love and respect we can give them.


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