| 1043 words

There's something you think about a lot as a kid, and then slowly, over time, not at all. Something that consumes the majority of your waking hours as well as the majority of your conscious thoughts. An incredibly massive part of your life that one point means literally everything, but eventually fades into the abyss of memory.

In case you hadn't guessed, I'm talking about school.

There are a lot of significant parts that you might remember about school. There's all of your friends of course, some of the best ones who might know you since you were in the third grade and had braces bigger than your mouth. There's the buildings themselves. Strange, liminal spaces that define what the world can be. The classroom, playground, and cafeteria make up the entire universe for a great many children, at least until they're old enough to ask for more. Strange, unique spaces like my school libraries or its endless hallways are still burned into my memory.

The thing I really want to talk about, though, is the teachers. Teachers can make or break a schooling experience, and in my opinion they are one of the most unforgettable parts of the educational journey. I count myself very lucky to have, for the most part, always had really good ones. I think a lot of credit for how I've learned to be disciplined and conscientious goes to them.

I remember even the earliest ones. Not so far back as preschool or kindergarten, but I can picture my grade 1 classroom as well as where I sat in relation to my friends. Even though the details are vague, I get the impression that a lot of my elementary school teachers liked me. I responded well to attention and praise, and even though I might have been rebellious at times I always appreciated it when they praised me and tried very hard to be liked.

I remember how all of the children in that school loved the janitor, and children do. I remember frequenting the library, and to this day I can tell you exactly how it was organized; at least until I forgot to return a book and then avoided it for the rest of that year. I remember the hill in the schoolyard, and how we all rolled a huge snowball down it every winter. I remember exchanging my email address with my second grade teacher and feeling extremely grown up. We kept a terrarium and made tons of hand on crafty projects in grade 4, which was so so fun. My fourth grade teacher used to read aloud to us, and I think that experience might cemented my love of reading from a young age. I couldn't bear to leave her books unfinished at the end of the year, and they became my first reading obsessions.

I moved schools alot, but I don't really remember it being a particularly painful experience. Again, I owe a lot of gratitude to, I suppose, the Canadian public school system. I was never really bullied and I suppose the teachers must have done a good job at making me integrated. I was a new kid in 5th grade, and it was that grade where I discovered a brand new shiny library and discovered an oodle of new reading obsessions. I still remember some of the classroom books that she had, and how my teacher admonished me for constantly reading under my desk.

Then, we get to sixth grade. My teacher here was by far the best teacher I've ever had. He was such a fun personality and a free spirit, in a way this influences me to this day still. He had us sit on exercise balls in class since it was better for health. He had us ask for deposit slips at banks so he could run a classroom economy, complete with classroom jobs and prizes so we'd learn how to use money. In the winter we all brought in candles, which he melted down to make new ones. At the end of the year, he took his whole class on a 3 day bike camping trip! How he was allowed to do that, I have no idea, but it's so incredibly cool that he did. He really shared his lust for life with us, while also being surprisingly educational.

Around this time I moved again and we started having different teachers for different subjects. I remember the geography/math teacher I had in eigth grade, another towering figure in my memory. He showed us tons of documentaries, about climate change and factory farming. I mean, who shows a class of 12 year olds The Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore! I loved it though, and couldn't stop thinking about them for years. In a real sense, those are what first radicalized me. He also gave brutal math quizzes and rewarded us with candy if we were correct, and while I wasn't usually the best I had a friend who'd always give me the candy he won.

In high school I did quite well, entirely thanks to the foundation I got from these earlier years. I figured out the trick which was that if your teachers liked you, you could get away with so much more. Yes, I might have been a bit of a teacher's pet but in my defense it's an easy role to fall into after moving so much and who doesn't want to be liked. My 10th grade math teacher trusted I was good at math so much that he once gave an entire assessment 100% after seeing the first page. I also remember how my ninth grade English teacher had such a passion for Shakespeare, and I still know the lines she had us memorize at the end of the year.

There's so much more I remember, and so many more stories I could tell. Maybe I should, before the memories fade away. Being a teacher is such an incredibly important and influential job, for any child. I've always toyed with the idea of being a teacher - I wonder how they would remember me.