December 20, 2017
Maybe I Missed My Calling
Hopefully you noticed a different look to the blog...black letters on a white background. I have been told by my graphics-trained wife that this combination is easier to read than the way things looked before. Also, the font size is bigger, again an adjustment for our aging eyes.
Please let me know what you think with a comment after this post. It is easy to put it back or make other modifications. After all, you are the ultimate boss!
Now, on to the post for today
Not too long ago was my last lesson. Twenty one youngsters, all in a 5th grade classroom were mostly quiet and as attentive as an 11 year old can be after lunch period. Name tags were on each desk.
After a deep breath I began what I hoped would be a meaningful, even enjoyable 40 minutes for "my" kids. Modifying some of the teaching materials to better connect with their lives and experiences, I led them through some key words and concepts. We consulted a large map and learned how much of the food and many of the products we consume and buy come from countries all around the world. Special cards were handed out to teach another lesson about the global economy. All too quickly, my time was up and I had to say goodbye.
As I was packing up to leave, the classroom teacher stopped me while all the kids looked on expectantly. She handed me a framed picture of the class that each child had signed to thank me for our time together. A round of applause and shouts of "Thank you, Mr Lowry" followed me out the door.
It was moments like these that made the planning and time worth it.
For the last year I have volunteered with the Junior Achievement program at a nearby elementary school. Last spring I taught a 4th grade class, this fall I have just wrapped up the lessons with 5th graders. I have enjoyed the experience enough to sign up for next year.
At first, walking into a classroom of 21 or 22 kids is intimidating. After all, I am old enough to be their grandfather. I don't want to bore them. I have to be careful to use examples they can relate to without trying too hard. I have a specific lesson plan to complete in 40 minutes each week. I must find a balance between maintaining control and making each child feel comfortable in my presence.
And, I enjoyed it tremendously. There was a flutter of nerves as I drove to the school each week, hoping I was prepared and the kids would be attentive. But, once I started everything seemed to just flow. Rarely consulting the teaching book, I became wrapped up in the presentation. I could quickly judge if the material was sparking any interest or it would be best to skip to the next section.
My mom was a teacher, full time, part time, and as a classroom volunteer, for 40 years. My uncle and grandfather were library system directors and university provosts, so I guess I have it in my genes. For the last twenty years of my working life I was a management consultant, which, come to think of it, is a type of teacher.
Playing records on the radio was fun. It was the perfect life for a young man in the late 60's and early 70's and a nice boost to the ego to be a local celebrity. I don't regret my career choice at all.
But, I guess it is natural to wonder what life would have been if I had followed a different path, maybe into education or teaching. After leaving the classroom now I feel a natural affinity for that setting and the ability to be a positive influence on the young lives sitting at all those desks.
Retirement gives me the opportunity to have a taste of a life that might have been.