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Linda Miller: Reflections of a retired teacher

Having just retired from teaching, I have a plethora of wonderful stories from school.

When I started teaching, I was 44 years old and had been preparing for this career for many years. I had a collection of young adult novels and ring binders filled with informative “maps” about athletes, animals, and geography.

In fact, when I was sick one day, one of my students stole one of my ring binders. I was glad he wanted it! The school’s resource manager picked it up, however.

I had tons of supplies, a good education, and had experience – having raised “bad” boys. I was full to bursting with myself and thought I was ready.

When I sat in the choir loft at church, I could make my boys behave with a stern expression and an almost imperceptible nod.

They knew. Unbeknownst to me, my students were unfamiliar with this method of police behavior.

At the time, we were not offered workshops and mentors, training and orientation. We were thrown into a classroom with 25-30 students and a set of textbooks just before the door was closed. However, I thought I was completely prepared, remember? I was already an adult.

As any teacher knows, all the students do pretty well the first week. And I could tell that these kids wanted me to succeed. They reminded me, a little late, to go to lunch. (They were very tactful about this because they didn’t want to insult me ​​and question my leadership skills.)

They reminded me that my room keys were in my hand when I panicked and couldn’t find them. Again, with great tact.

McComb Schools usually start the year on weekends. For example, school starts on a Thursday this year. It gives us a chance to orient everyone, hand out manuals, familiarize students with procedures, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera (in the words of Yul Brynner of “The King and I”).

Having already failed on lunch/recreation times and finding my keys, I became suspicious. So when a student asked me if I was going to deliver textbooks in exchange for his cards, I tried not to look like a deer caught in the headlights.

I chose a child whose name I remembered and sent him to Mrs. Mary Allred to ask if I was really going to do it. And, if so, what was I going to do with the card-books?

University didn’t prepare me for book cards, role taking, sending office absence reports, grading papers, getting 25-30 people to the bathroom in a timely manner , the herding of students to and from the cafeteria and/or an activity without a line that extended like a westbound wagon train, handing out homework, behavior reports, and a myriad of other things that are crucial to the class control.

I thought I could give them a stern look, shake my head slightly, and they would understand. They needed a lot more direction than that.

Nor did college prepare me for the attachment I would have to my students, how much I would come to love each one of them, how much I wanted them to learn, explore and become educated and productive citizens of the world.

I already thought being a parent was the best and most important job in the world. Teaching comes right after.

Linda Miller of McComb recently retired as a teacher at Higgins Middle School.