Towards the end of the day, we would all go back to homeroom, about 15 minutes before the buses were called. We knew very well that the “other” fifth grade, Mrs. Carr’s class, would be playing board games, chatting, laughing. The boys would be on the floor playing with their Hot Wheels, or wrestling each other.
But for those of us in Mrs. Whitlock’s class, we had to pull out our Reading Books, and spend the 15 minutes reading. Mrs. Whitlock would have a different child read each paragraph. She would look ahead and see what was going on in the paragraph, and ask a question. Whoever knew the answer would then read the paragraph.
For example, if we were reading a story about a boy going to the store, she would ask, “How did Henry get to the store?” We would look ahead, and someone would (raise their hand of course, and wait to be called on), and reply, “Henry rode his bike to the store.” Then that person would read the entire paragraph.
I was absolved of this reading most of the time; I’ll get to that in a minute.
At the time, all I could think was, why can’t we play like the other kids? Why are we in jail? Of course now, 40 something years later, I realize that she was teaching us to read ahead, think for ourselves, and glean meaning from what was written. Fifteen minutes a day, time 200 days, and that is substantial training for reading contracts.
I was “Tom Sawyer’d” into cleaning the blackboards most days. Mrs. Whitlock would remind every one, “SueAnn is the top reader in the school, and so she will clean the blackboards.” I was a little proud of this accomplishment, but it made the cool kids hate me. Looking back on it, it wasn’t such a grand prize. I was breathing in chalk dust, and then on Fridays I would have to use the damp cloth and wipe the blackboards down. That was kinda gross too. I just felt happy that I was actually good at something.
[These days, I'm good at dressing layers, so as to be ready for Hot Flashes.]
- Poems and Sayings of my 5th grade teacher (theyearwithmrswhitlock.wordpress.com)