Each week, I go to different grade level math meetings as part of my job as a resource teacher. At the beginning of each meeting, we start with “Celebrations”. Yesterday, on one team, the celebration was to reflect on who your most influential teacher was. I loved listening to others share who the teacher was, what grade and for better or worse how they were influenced by this individual.
I had no idea how many of our teachers were children of teachers. Several people said that they called their mom after a challenging day or when they wanted to reflect on how a lesson or interaction went. That sounding board, for me, was always Dave. I would come home and unload whatever was on my mind. And he would listen and generally offer me a solution or advice which I may or may not have followed. Over time, he realized that his best response was just to be happy or indignant or frustrated with me. That was really what I was looking for. Yesterday was kind of a frustrating day. I would have loved to have talked to him about it. I miss that time.
For the record, my most influential teacher was Mr. Masatani (not sure how to spell it). He was my fifth grade teacher. He was kind of gruff and once accused me of using my brother’s project from the year before (as if!). He had a connection with the LA Dodgers and awarded prizes like jerseys and baseballs for achievements. I remember when your cursive handwriting met his high standard you were allowed to write in pen and he rewarded you with a special pen eraser. The thing that I most remember about him though was that he was probably the first Japanese person that I had a lot of contact with. It was the first time in my life that someone (at least to my face) recognized me as being asian and exposed me to what that meant. It was the first time that I learned about the Japanese internment camps in WWII. (For those of you who don’t know me, I was born in France. My biological mom was Japanese and my biological father was Czech. I was adopted when I was 2 1/2 in Germany by a caucasian US Army officer and his caucasian wife – also known as Mom and Dad!) 5th grade was the first time that I considered what it meant to be Japanese.
In college, I tutored a Japanese woman in English. She teased me for my pitiful lack of knowledge historically and culturally and invited me over for meals so that I might learn more!