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Laurie Niles

A Little Fairy Dust

March 14, 2006 at 7:52 AM

My five-year-old son, Brian, just informed me that a group of leprauchans apparently invaded his classroom during the night, overturning tables and chairs and leaving only their small green footprints and a trail of green glitter. They had to clean up after the little pixies and write them a note.

This confirmed something I've been suspecting all year long: Brian has one of the world's best kindergarten teachers: Mrs. Bacher.

Mrs. Bacher's classroom sits literally in the shadow of the school's best-known and most-requested kindergarten teacher, Mrs. O. Mrs. O has been teaching kindergarten for about 20 years and is known far and wide for her experience and competence. The school office is overwhelmed every year with more requests than they can honor, that children be placed in Mrs. O's room. In fact, we made that request ourselves!

On the other hand, Mrs. Bacher has been teaching for only four years. She speaks openly of the lessons she learned during her first year of teaching, which was also the first year of our school's existence. She is so modest and calm, and she makes it look so easy, that one can forget the challenge in coralling 20 five-year-olds for all-day kindergarten.

The other day I was in the class, helping staple rainbow clouds to hang from the ceiling. The kids were sitting quietly, and she was calling on them to randomly identify numbers on the board. When someone got it right, Mrs. Bacher said, “Silent applause..” and the kids waved their little hands in the air, in support of each small colleague.

The room can be full of noise and six different activities, but when she dings a bell, they all stop what they are doing, put their hands on their heads and stand in silence. She then instructs them in a whisper.

One day a new boy who spoke no English could not stop crying. While managing the rest of her class, she did her best to calm him down. She wrote his name on the board, said it, pointed to it and put a star next to it. “See, we are happy with Yeshan!” He still wasn't too sure, so she didn't let go of his hand.

At the end of each day she puts in the same tape of songs, and by now they are so used to them that they sing, in both English and French, as they clean up the classroom and stack the chairs:

“Four hugs a day, that's the minimum, four hugs a day, not the maximum...”

Teaching is such an art. And it takes a while for a new teacher to receive recognition for a job well-done.

From Karin Lin
Posted on March 14, 2006 at 6:35 PM
Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story, Laurie. With all the depressing things we hear about the state of education, particularly in California, it's wonderful to be reminded about the jewels. :)
From Donna Clegg
Posted on March 14, 2006 at 8:04 PM
Ditto to the education remarks. I wonder if those were the same leprechauns that invaded the kindergarten classes at our elementary school! It was always fun to watch the student's reations to the chaos created by those little green guys.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on March 15, 2006 at 3:02 AM
Laurie, I taught and substituted at a couple of public schools. I totally understand how difficult teaching in the public school is, and I really admire a good teacher when I meet one. I can also tell you how much of a treat it is to have a good student in your class.
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on March 15, 2006 at 7:04 AM
She does sound like a very good teacher. I especially like her holding the hand of the scared child in addition to giving him verbal reassurance. I'm very glad that you gave her the praise she deserves.

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