The Write Stuff

January 3 – Have been going through some notes as I sit at the computer this afternoon, trying to figure out how I should put them into a blog. I wish I could be like other folks who can sit down for a few minutes at a time and write just a short paragraph or two preparing for the final blog. Then they can leave the computer and work on other things until the notes are taken care of, and they’re ready to add another item. That’s hard for me to do. Guess I have always been one who likes to finish up any kind of project before going off onto something new and different.

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[ 1940’s era typewriter ]

As I think back on those days, I’m reminded that all of our writing was done with pen and paper, or typing on an ancient typewriter. Who in the world ever heard of a computer or would have even had access to one if there were any at the college? Seventy years I was in the middle of my college years, and while today’s students have access to all sorts of help from various inventions unheard of way back then, we didn’t, and it took much longer for us to find the necessary material for our assignments.

How well I remember the old days when we, as kids or young folks, were assigned a term paper or just a few pages to write. The teachers or professors ALWAYS gave us the deadline when the writing must be done if we didn’t want our grade lowered. That idea scared me into getting into the project right off the bat.

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[ Chris’ college yearbook photo ]

As I was working my way through college, I had little spare time unaccounted for, and just had to hurry off to the library when I could to study and plan for the required assignment. I thought it was very strange when I was planning for the paper that I saw very few of the other students doing any planning for theirs. I thought that maybe they worked while I was doing my job as a monitor or working on papers in the English department. Here and there, as the days went by, I was able to get my thoughts and ideas and notes together, maybe by the end of the second week, if not the first.

What a great feeling I had when I could say I was ready to turn in the assignment. Now and again when there were but two or three days before the teacher would collect the finished product, one or two or more of the students came to me asking if I could help them. Well, no, I really couldn’t because I didn’t know enough about their subject. Maybe I would make a quick trip to the library with them and try to get them into encyclopedias or magazines or short books dealing with their chosen subject. As the turn-in day was just a day ahead, those poor students stayed up all night working on their papers. Good thing they could just turn in their assignment, rather than try to tell about what they had found. They probably would have fallen asleep before they finished!

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[ High school yearbook staff ]

I know that it was good for me to get assignments in on time or even before, as when I worked on the staff of the high school year book, called the Academe, (named for our school, Academy High), as well as the Minuteman, the college year book (named in honor of the Minutemen who fought to be free of British rule in the Revolutionary War). I was able to use my habit of scheduling and working ahead to get the writing in on time.

Later after I began teaching Grades 5-8, I was glad that I had learned to use my time wisely back in college. Not many teachers in that situation today of having four grades. One grade is enough, but when they have to plan for two or even more, it’s a bit difficult to make sure that the various subjects are taken care of and that the students are learning.

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[ Chris and students meeting the mayor ]

I remember the day when the grandfather of one of the kids came to school to pay an unexpected visit  – an all-day visit! As I think back, I don’t remember that he even moved from his chair until it was time for him to return home.

He waited until all of the students had left the room, then turned to me and said, “I have some questions I want to ask. First, how in the world did you know just what you had to teach them since they were working in different books? Then sometimes when they were working on their own, a number of them would come to you and ask for help. Maybe it was math, or history or whatever, but you always knew how to help them find the answer on their own, with guidance from you where needed?” He just shook his head and said, “I just can’t figure out how you are able to do that!”

Know what? Teachers don’t receive near enough thanks for what they do. Once, when I asked a parent if she were pleased with the progress made by one of her children, she answered, “Well, that’s your job and that’s what you get paid for!” I will always remember and be grateful for those kind words from that grandpa who came to visit. – CHRIS

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