Wednesday, December 5, 2012

This I Believe

I was planning for an observation in my classroom today. And so naturally, looking through things, I got sidetracked. Story of my life. Anyway, as I rummaged around, I found this little ditty. Well, it's not actually a ditty. Not even about Jack and Diane.

It is an example paper I wrote, a narrative to use as an example for my students. As I reread it, I realized...I need to post this. It's a great little insight to who I am, my experiences as a kid, and what I firmly believe. If you have not yet visited the This I Believe website, shame on you. Go. Read. Be inspired. Write your own.

Here is my This I Believe Paper.

Turning on the Light

I was an awkward twelve year old. I had dark brown unruly hair, thick glasses, and was a bit on the pudgy side. All this and a pair of braces too. With head gear no less. I was a normal tween with hopes and dreams. For example, would Javier ever notice me? Will I get to go a concert with my friends? Is my friend mad at me? I also had one nagging question always in the back of my mind. Will people like me? This is the question that haunted me and governed over everything I did in middle school.  

You see, one thing I understand about all people, is that whether or not they will admit it, it is a universal truth that all humans want to be loved and accepted and to know that they are normal. Everything that we do is to help us gain acceptance. Whether we want to become a famous novelist, or a doctor, or a musician or a cosmetologist; we all want to be liked and appreciated. 

I remember what it was like to walk the halls of middle school. I always was wondering who was saying what about me, if the laughing I heard was at my expense, or if I was going to be teased. I wasn’t pretty or good at sports, or a top student. I was ordinary. Nothing special. Except in Mr. Akamine’s class. 

Mr. Akamine taught choir. I was an alto. I hated it. I wanted to be a soprano because they always got the melody of the song. The alto always sounded boring. It reminded me of a whale’s bellow. Sometimes, Mr. Akamine had this habit of calling on random people to come up to the front and sing on the microphone. I remember trembling at the thought of going up there. 

And then one day it happened. He called on me. I couldn’t refuse. There I stood, feeling naked and embarrassed, ready to be laughed at. Another joke people could make fun of.

I took a deep breath and began singing the lyrics to Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong, his favorite. I sat there singing for what seemed to be ages. When I finished, I remember it being so quiet. Mr. Akamine looked at me and smiled. “You have a beautiful voice, Carey.” 

I beamed. I was so happy. I looked out at my fellow classmates, and they were so quiet. They began clapping. My face flushed. When I got to my seat, people by me patted me on the back and said things like “good job“, and “way to go“. 

From that point on I became a regular in front of the class. Perhaps that is why I like performing in front of people. That applause was so uplifting. From that day on, I felt like there was one thing I could do…sing. Now, I may not be any Lady Gaga or Taylor Swift, and I did not go on to star in the high school musical or have solos in the concerts, but the one thing Mr. Akamine gave me was a belief in myself. That I was worthwhile. I had talent and most important, he liked my singing, which to my middle school mind meant he liked me. I also got acceptance from my peers. At least for a little while.

I believe a good teacher can do that. A good teacher can give strength to those that need it. A good teacher can see the light in every one of their students and try, and sometimes succeed, to let that light shine. A good teacher gets branded in the hearts and minds of those they teach. I can’t recall the teachers who made me miss my bus after school. Or the ones that gave me detention or Saturday school. I have no recollection of my kindergarten teacher or my fifth grade teacher. The ones that are engrained in my mind, Mr. Akamine, Mr. Sisman, Mr. McCormick, are the ones who saw me not as a student, but as someone who offered something special to the world. These are the ones that shaped me. 

I believe that every encounter with every individual leaves marks on our soul, and they help us, for better or for worse, become who we are today. I believe each person carries the echoes of all the people that have entered and left their lives. Which is why, at the end of the day, I want all my students to understand that I see the special in them. I see their gifts. And after all…I like each and every one of them.
So...what do YOU believe? Write it.

1 comment:

  1. Sad that I can only remember two teachers. One lifted me, the other sent me crashing. Mrs. Hunter is truly the one that set me on the path to writing. Mrs. Piggee (I am NOT making it up) was a choir teacher who told me I wasted my time, my voice too husky, and I looked stupid on stage. I've never volunteered to be in front of others since.

    Others have a huge impact on us, especially when young. Sure, I can make a fool of myself in public without a care. Ask me to speak in front of others? I need an adult diaper, a squeegee for the sweat and an interpreter for the stammering.

    Yet I know I can write, the stories in my head have merit in some way.


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