Before I left home, I visited my old elementary school. I was driving by, running errands, and I thought I should see the place. Besides in dreams and memories, I hadn’t been there in over 10 years. I thought, as I’m about to start teaching in an elementary school, I should refresh my memory of my old place.
It’s summer, so I didn’t expect – nor want – anyone to be there. I just wanted to walk around the place. The woman at the front door graciously let me explore the place without any supervision (IDK why, but I thought they’d be super strict and I’d have to be watched as I walked around).
I noticed the door was open across from my old 4th grade classroom and suspected there was a teacher’s meeting going on. When I walked by, I saw the distinct frizzy hair that was my 4th grade teacher’s hair. I thought about going in, but they were clearly having a planning meeting and I didn’t want to interrupt. I decided I would walk around the school and if they were still there when I finished, I’d say hi.
Funniest moment from 5th grade: We had to debate the question who discovered America. The groups were: 1) Native Americans; 2) Zheng He; 3) Leif Eriksson, 4) Christopher Columbus. OBVIOUSLY the Native Americans discovered America. However, I was randomly assigned to the Christopher Columbus camp. So I had to argue against what I truly believed. I decided to pursue the line of reasoning that the term “discover” could be defined several ways, and when we think about how it was only after Christopher Columbus discovered America that it began to develop (LOL what a racist little 5th grader was I? The First People’s had massive innovations that allowed them to cultivate and flourish on the North and Southern American continents), Christopher Columbus was the discoverer of America. At that young age, I could have gone down the path of becoming sleezy defense attorney.
Things got pretty heated (I’m not sure why) and I said to a kid that was pissing me off: “Well you’re a wussy!” I meant to say “wussy” but I accidentally said “pussy.” Mind you, I didn’t know what the word meant at that time, but I recognized that it was not something you were “allowed” to say out loud. AWKWARD. I had to stay after class was dismissed for recess and I was like: “Teacher, I’m so sorry, I meant to say wussy!” And she was like: “It’s alright, but you really shouldn’t call anyone that anyway.” OOF. TOUGH TIMES.
Fifth grade was also great because we went to the Science Lab to learn science. I remember when we first used the microscopes and I was FASCINATED. The teacher told us we could bring in whatever we wanted to look at under the microscope so I brought in bloody band-aids. What the hell? 5th grade Erisa, that’s not how microscopes work. I thought I’d see my red blood cells. When I didn’t, I didn’t despair. Maybe that inspired me to want to keep doing science so eventually I would see my RBCs. (Note: I still have not seen my red blood cells.)
These photos were taken outside the new 1st grade classrooms. I think they’re awesome. Schools need more of this. Screw math, screw readings (just kidding, how would the kids know what these posters say if they can’t read?), it’s all about training kids to have the right attitudes about themselves and their environment. But would a 1st grader understand these posters? Or be able to look at them? They’re pretty high off the ground and judging by the height of the drinking fountains, these kids are pretty short.
I had rounded the school and noticed the 4th grade classroom was still open. So, as I promised myself, I walked up to it and knocked on the door.
Very quickly, my old teacher remembered me – not my name, but remembered me as a student. I really didn’t think she’d remember me, but she mentioned that was her first year teaching at Avoca, so I supposed that makes it somewhat easier to remember being the first. We chatted and laughed for a few minutes. I asked them what they were up to and they said they were planning the year. I told them how 4th grade math was really challenging, how I couldn’t do multiplication, and they assured me that was normal. They asked me what I was up to and I said I was going to teach elementary school science in Taiwan. They wished me luck. And Mrs. Kiedaisch, who was Ms. Radke when I had her as a teacher, said she remembered me being a very good student. It was nice of her to say that, because obviously, she didn’t need to say that at all. It was nice.
It’s strange, when I look back on 4th grade, which I actually do quite often, I remember three things: 1) 9/11, 2) multiplication, 3) Thinking I was a nerd in a bad way. I forget why, but I think there were times during school when we were allowed to share cool things. I had just watched the movie Evolution with David Duchovny and an important element (no pun intended) of that story was the fact that if arsenic (As) is poisonous to carbon-based life forms (which, is that even true for all carbon-based life forms? I bet there are some that can deal with arsenic), then selenium (Se) would be poisonous to nitrogen-based life forms, which is what the aliens invading either were: nitrogen-based. So I shared this with my classmates because I thought it was super cool, and I remember Ms. Radke being like, “okay?…” I don’t know if this actually happened, or it was just in my head and propogated through the years. I don’t really care these days if I’m perceived as kind of weird for being nerdy, but as a child, conforming to society is important. So… long story short, hearing Mrs. Kiedaisch say I was bright was like patting little Erisa on the head saying: “you’re alright.”