Lessons from My Elementary School TeachersMost of my grade school years happened in the late 1960s/early 1970s, so some of the things that happened would not happen today. Regardless of any political incorrectness, certain lessons still rise to the top of my memories. Where I grew up, elementary school was Kindergarten to Sixth Grade. For these teachers, I appreciate their time, efforts, and desire to teach.

Here are the seven lessons from my seven elementary school teachers:

  1. Have fun. Kindergarten begins the learning process. Mrs. Kurle balanced the half day with art, naps, play, and interaction. She was the kindest, most welcoming person possible. The early years of school always seem to be more fun than others and, maybe, it is because we lose sight of the need to have fun. Laughing, playing, and creating are all fun activities, and we need to always do these things to have balance in our lives. It also ignites the ongoing imagination of possibilities, something which is always needed in our lives as we grow older.
  2. Sit still and listen. From my first grade teacher, Mrs. Bieber, I learned that sometimes you just need to sit down and listen. Running around all the time doesn’t always get you where you need to go. Sitting still and listening carefully sometimes will aid your learning. If not, as one of my classmates learned, jump ropes can be used to tie you in your chair!
  3. Show pride. In the second grade, every morning, Mrs. Heckenliable played the piano while the whole class sang America, The Beautiful. Growing up on the plains, the song had an even more expansive meaning. One of the principles it really delivered is the importance of being proud of certain things and recognizing what it means. In this context, it was being proud of where we lived, both in the rural areas as well as in our country. Having pride is important so that we always try to do our best. However, we should never confuse being proud with being boastful.
  4. Understand story. After recess in the third grade, Mrs. Schmierer read to us several chapters from a book. I know this may have you chuckling, but the books I remember her reading where from The Little House on the Prairie. Many years later, I still remember these times, and it really pointed out the importance of unfolding chapters in a life story. Nothing in real life can really happen in the two-hour timespan of a movie, but chapters of a wholesome, fulfilled life happen over a period of time. I am not sure how many books we covered during the year; it doesn’t really matter now. Living your life as a story is a good lesson to keep in mind, ensuring the characters in yours and the activities you pursue make for worthy plots and a solid, meaningful ending.
  5. Inspire learning. I remember covering a lot of material in the fourth grade. Mrs. Schock kept us busy. It wasn’t a painful busy; it was an eagerness to learn. We became aggressive sponges, soaking in as much as we could. The credit goes to Mrs. Schock as her teaching style inspired us to want to learn. Teachers do make a difference, and those that inspire us to learn more are the one we need to exemplify in whatever we are involved in as adults. No matter what organization we are in, learning needs to be encouraged and inspired; it is the only way we continue to advance.
  6. Know history. Fifth grade seemed to be filled with more history than the other grades so far. Mrs. Erbe began our process of learning, understanding, and embracing history. The past delivers insights and appreciation for what happened before us. History is not just events, but people playing important roles and making decisions which impact lives sometimes for decades to come. We need to learn from history and not just memorization of facts. History is much more if we take the time to absorb and learn.
  7. Understand consequences. The sixth grade seemed to be a transition place. In our school, this was the last step before middle school and the next building over where all the older kids were. We started to push the boundaries, some more than others. In Mr. Heddick’s class, we had a Valentine’s Day party, and one of my classmates decided in would be a good idea to bring in a little of “grandma’s recipe” to add some punch to the punch. I remember walking by the closets in the classroom wondering why a group was gathered around with their cups. During the many lectures that were to come, we all discovered what consequences meant. We all have an impact in this life, and our actions have consequences – positive and negative. Our goal is to have the score lopsided to many more positive consequences at the end of our life story.

StudentsFirst is promoting Thank Your Teacher. This is wise thing to do. In a way, this post is more than what I learned from my elementary teachers; it is my gratefulness for the foundation they gave me in my early years. Thank you to all of my elementary school teachers!

What lessons did you learn from your elementary teachers? Who were your favorites and why?