blast from the past

One of the highlights of my day has been an ongoing Facebook chat with some special folks I met back in 1998 when they were 11 and 12, and I was their newbie 22-year-old teacher.

Ours was a self-contained 5th/6th grade Gifted/Talented classroom with just 12 students. 4 girls, 8 boys.


But don’t worry. They gave me a run for their money. They were gifted all right. Creative and brilliant and funny and a complete handful. It was all I could do to stay ahead of their inquisitive, ever-churning minds.

Late Monday night I was working on my new unschooling e-book (I am so in love with it, friends. I wish it was done already!), and I got to thinking about teachers that teach outside the box and let their students be creative and then I remembered: I USED TO BE ONE OF THOSE TEACHERS. How cool is that??

(But it’s a heck of a lot easier to be that kind of teacher when you’re given just 12 students and they’re all brilliant–or have been told that anyway–and you’re also pretty much given freedom to do whatever you want with the curriculum, which is exactly what I did.)

If I remember correctly, we covered all the regular school bases like math and language arts and science, but when it came to our World History books, we RAN WITH IT.

We kind of divided the year into fourths and focused on one place/period of history each quarter. Ancient Egypt. Ancient Greece. Medieval Europe. And Japan.

And the bulk of many of our days were spent doing crazy things like mummifying our stuffed animals (toilet paper, tape, and gold spray paint), turning empty carpet rolls into the Greek Parthenon, decorating the entire classroom like a medieval castle (everyone made their own smaller castles too), learning the Greek alphabet, dressing in character and putting on a program for every other class in the school (one at a time) and the kids’ families.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

We also held a funeral for a troll and had bonus buck stores and wrote deep thoughts in journals and started poke wars and made up songs.

My heart has been touched today by the things these kiddos (now in their late 20’s–gasp!) fondly remember about their 5th/6th grade year.

Makes me even more determined to give my kiddos a childhood to remember–one that matters.

Minus the spray-painted kittens and floor-to-ceiling carpet rolls.

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