Linda, Mother, Retired Teacher, MN
Linda was a beloved teacher for over 30 years – in WI and MN - and recently retired. She is the mother of two grown daughters and an aspiring grandmother :) She was interviewed by her daughter, Erin.
What do you want for Lindsay and me for our lives?
I want you to be happy. To me, happiness is family, and friends, and doing something that’s meaningful in your life. I'd like you to have a family of your own someday because since you were little girls that seems like what you wanted. I want you to have a career that you know is important and you know you are making a positive contribution to the world. I want you to be happy. It's also important to be able to make enough money so you don't have to worry about your next meal or how you'll pay for your kid's college. You can afford the necessary things and some fun things as well.
What do you see as the role of school in us getting there?
I wanted you to be confident, to be curious, and have the skills to choose what you wanted to do afterwards – to have choices.
I felt you had a really good public school education. I thought you had good teachers and a good, challenging curriculum. You had teachers who were very passionate about teaching. One thing that bothered me was bullying, and I know it’s hard for schools to get control of that because kids can be very sneaky about it. I think our schools are doing a better job at discouraging bullying now, by teaching kids to empathize with others. The emphasis should be more on working together and teaching children it’s not okay to bully– we have to care for one another.
Do you think people agree with you?
I think most people agree with me that what makes a good life is family, friends, and meaningful work.
I’m not sure everyone agrees with me about what schools should do. I think what we miss sometimes now are the extras. Schools are so set on teaching reading and math that they’re taking out some of the fun activities that children remember later. Doing more plays and creative projects that let students use reading and math is important. I think it makes students more well-rounded and demonstrates how they can use the skills they are learning. We also have to remember that children learn through play and children have to have fun in school. And, we need things for all kids to be successful at – so they feel confident about their future and that they can do it.
What was one of your most powerful learning experiences?
One of my best learning experiences was with Reading Recovery. I did a number of courses in literacy and about reading when working toward my Master’s degree – and yet I didn’t really know how to teach reading until Reading Recovery. It was so useful and just made so much sense finally.
It was all year long – all career long really – with continuing education every year. We had to actually work with a student while we were taking the course. We taught behind glass and teachers watched you and gave you explicit feedback and strategies. We had a three-hour class every Monday. We learned all about different components of reading and how kids learn to read. You tested your child at the beginning and found out what they knew and what they didn’t know. You started with what they knew and you built on it, trying to target their zone of proximal development.
Part of what made it powerful is that I was able to do it and be successful – and you could tell when you were successful because kids would start reading. It made me feel so good when kids learned to read! That was the best. I felt very lucky to be a part of it.