Teachers are like blacksmiths. We all start out as metal gears, all similar, but if observed more precisely, we are all slightly different. Some of these gears spin too fast, too slow, some are too big some are too small, some don’t even have teeth yet, and some don’t fit in anywhere. It is up to our teachers to find the problems and strengths, fix them, and find a place for them.
Mrs. Cull was my literacy teacher during the seventh and eighth grades at North Lake School. Mrs. Cull was a good blacksmith. She knew when to be hard on us (but not too hard), as if filing down the teeth of a gear without breaking it.
She didn’t just throw us in a machine in which kids went in and adults came out (we have high school for that), but instead, she worked with us one at a time. If there was an issue she would solve it herself, with scrutinizing precision. Such as the time I couldn’t decide on a choice book, she went through all the books in her personal library to help me find one. It was her mission to make sure that we turned out as proper young students, ready for high school.
We exercised our reading skills in ways that we decided wether it was through, fiction, nonfiction, novels, or graphic novels. As long as we made progress, she let us go at our own pace. She was best at remaining flexible, while still making sure we were doing our part.
Giving us useful knowledge, yet making sure we still had time for exercises, like riddles and puzzles, she kept us engaged. She also let us collaborate with one another to increase our thought process, letting iron sharpen iron.
Occasionally she would let us spin freely and get creative in our projects. We once did biography reports in which we were given extra points for dressing up as the people we were reporting. Another time when reporting independant books she let us choose a creative project to accompany the report, such as dioramas or oral presentations.
She trained us to be reliable, but forgave us if we failed to keep up. When we leave grade school we are but these metal discs that just want to spin freely like tops on a table. We fail to realize that their is a great system that requires us all to put our energy to use. Mrs. Cull and the other middle school teachers help us to realize this great system, develop the skills to spin on, find our place, and be ready to fit in.