Did you have a favorite teacher? Miss Mills, my fourth-grade teacher, was mine. It was her first-year teaching, and she had plenty of challenges with our class (though probably not that much different from other first-year teachers). Of course, the fact that she was young, attractive, and athletic didn't hurt her chances of success (at least with me). We quickly learned that she was also a strict disciplinarian, but that didn’t keep her from being my favorite.
One beautiful spring afternoon, we came in from recess and I was sitting in the front row close to the storage closet where Miss Mills kept the equipment. As usual she went straight to the closet to put everything away. While she was in there. I had one of my infamous impulsive thoughts and quickly calculated the distance from my desk to the closet and the time it would take me to run, slam the door on Miss Mills, and get back to my seat.
Before I had even finished thinking it through, I jumped out of my seat, ran to the closet, slammed the door shut, and slipped back to my seat. Sure enough, my calculations were correct, and I sat in my chair, smugly convinced that I had gotten away with the dastardly deed. The next few moments silently ticked away, the suspense growing, waiting for Miss Mills to emerge. I was confident and certain of my cleverness, so you can imagine my shock when she stepped out of the closet and promptly kicked me out of class! I spent the rest of the afternoon leaning against the wall in the hallway.
I didn't think anything more about this experience until I was playing outside in my neighborhood a few days later and saw Miss Mills walking towards my house. Being a quick thinker, I figured out that she wanted to talk with my mom, and I knew what she wanted to talk about. Now I have always been known for my bravery and when I saw her, I did the brave thing and ran.
Sure enough, she knocked on our door and went inside, where I knew she would visit with my mother. Sometime later I felt brave enough to go home to face the consequences. To my everlasting gratitude, I learned that Miss Mills suggested to Mom that she might want to go light on the punishment because she had already dispensed it. She also confessed that she had to remain in the closet a few extra minutes to get control of her laughter.
Together, Miss Mills and my mom disciplined me in the very best sense of the word. They did not simply punish me but taught me and helped me gain greater self-control. I came away feeling loved and cared about and wanting to do better and be worthy of their trust. I’m grateful to this day that they helped me to become more mature and to fine tune my sense of humor so I can have fun with others without crossing the line or causing any hurt or harm.
Here’s to failing forward,
Calvert and Anne
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