As a second grader at Glennon Heights Elementary School in Lakewood, Colorado I encountered a most frightening reality: my own academic limitations. And then I was set free by an even greater reality.
Mrs. (or was it Miss?) Pearson was a lovely teacher. Young and pretty and not cranky. This made her the antithesis of my first grade teacher who memory holds as Mrs. Windbag even though I know that’s not her name and I would have NEVER called her that to her face or even to someone else behind her back. But to myself inside my head — that was a different realm. But…I digress.
I remember the feeling of panic more than the details. On Monday I was assigned far more worksheets than I could possibly complete and this petrified me. I could not make progress on any of them when I knew I could not complete all of them.
I apparently took this fear home, though I don’t remember doing so. My mom was pretty good at reading me and asking the right questions. Before too long she and I were sitting in the classroom with the teacher to straighten things out.
I did not have the kind of parents who assumed the teacher was a lunatic, so we were not there to straighten her out.
Upon hearing what it was that kept me from being able to sleep at night or work in class, this uncranky teacher asked me a simple question: “Could you do one worksheet per day?”
“Yes,” I replied with confidence. I knew I could do more than one.
“Could you do two per day?”
Still confident, “Yes.”
“What about three?”
“Maybe. Some days. It depends on the worksheet.”
She smiled and then asked me to do some simple math. If I did two worksheets per day for the five days in the week, how many would I get done in that week?
“Ah, and how many worksheets are in your packet for the week?”
I didn’t know. I only saw the huge stack and froze. We pulled out my folder and I counted. Ten.
I only had to do two per day. If I did three on a day or two, I might have some free time on the fifth day to enjoy one of the learning centers or do some art.
From that afternoon on, I knew I was going to love second grade. And my uncranky teacher.