Friday, September 24, 2010

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing.

(Excellent book, by the way.)

Yesterday, Angela and I took a field trip to Amelia Earhart Elementary. Waaay out in Texas. :] Anywho, she had to teach the third through sixth graders to ballroom dance, and I tagged along.
As we were driving, I was recounting stories of my childhood to her. We passed by pumpkins, while I exclaimed "PUMPKINS!!" and caused her to swerve into oncoming traffic, debated whether or not watching a movie in a corn field would sufficiently scare us, and how south Provo means 'by the rail road tracks'.

And then it hit me.

Mr. Z totally switched schools. He teaches at Amelia Earhart now!

Ask Angie, I was positively giddy!
I practically skipped down the hall searching for the bulletin board I knew would be covered in sign language. I was in luck- I found it without forgetting where I was (An accomplishment, as we all know...) I cannot tell you how excited I was to talk to Z again.

[Me, in 4th grade. Yeah, I know.]
Z was my fourth grade teacher, and honestly the best teacher I've ever had. I can't remember the last time I was actually excited to go to school. I learned SO much in that class, and I'm pretty sure a lot of it was probably things he wasn't intending to teach. Fourth grade was when I fell in love with school. He's a big part of the reason I'm so interested in going into elementary education. I've heard that 4th grade can be your most influential year in school, and what kind of teacher you have can help define your path for later education. Many who have had substandard teachers grow to dislike school and fall behind. It's a great thing, then, that I had a teacher who loved what he did and did it well. Looking back on fourth grade, I can honestly say it could not have been greater.

Five great things about Mr. Z's class:

1. Calvin and Hobbes-
I own every one ever published now, I think. Calvin is such a quick witted, smart mouthed six year old. I would have definitely been slapped if I said half the things he says. And Hobbes is just so fuzzy.

"I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each other's dreams, we can be together all the time.

One of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes quotes.

2. Australia- Now, I can't wait to go to Australia in May. But in fourth grade? Australia was a dreaded destination. Going to Australia meant you had failed epically in life. Whenever you were being obnoxious or misbehaving, Z would tell you to 'Go to Australia'. You'd walk back to a desk by the door with a laminated map of Australia covering the surface. And sit there. And everyone knew you were being punished...

3. Bill Peet/Great Inventions/Unsolved Mysteries Presentations-
Where I learned that Jared made the best Kweek of Kookatumdee and we had mad skills for making bird costumes out of colored paper, the Q-tip was made by a Frenchman and salt clay will NOT dry if you paint over it with flesh colored acrylic paint, and the Nazca lines could be practically anything if you have a convincing enough explanation for the phenomenon.

4. In-Z-News-
Did your fourth grade class have its own newspaper? Did you write your own articles and format them on the computer like a REAL journalist? Did it contain awesomeness such as a joke column, recipies from classmates (or rather, classmates' mothers), spotlights on students and teachers, and other various tidbits of elementary school shenanagins? Did you have your own press badge?! I think not.

However, I did. Ten points for Gryffindor.

5. Foot Hall of Fame-
For my inner book-nerd. Okay, so my book-nerd isn't so inner, it's more blatantly obvious. However. I achieved this status many times, because I was such an awesome kid. Requirements? Measure your foot. However tall it is in inches? That's how many inches of books you need to read. Not books. Inches of books. Who thinks of that? Mr. Z does. And that's why fourth grade rocked. (Note the picture above: I was the FIRST in my class to reach the Foot Hall of Fame. Also, I still have my footprint. No, I'm not lame.)

There are so many more great things about fourth grade: the Survival Manual, Bonus Bucks, Stanley, I can't remember what it was called but we put dimes in it and it gave us tasks in little plastic containers when we were done with our work, the time Z flipped and threw multiplication practice sheets everywhere and left the room, being best friends with Randy, Taylor, Tayt, Shaun and all the other boys in class, hating Anne of Green Gables with the firey passion of a thousand suns, listening to Z read to us with amazing voice, Time for Andrew, Market Day, getting a book on your birthday, learning sign language, Wolffy, tye-dying t-shirts for field trips, singing along to the acoustic stylings of our teacher while he secretly recorded us and burned a CD for us all at the end of the year, Chunk-a-Poo cookies, Star Wars, vocab posters, Expedition Red Rock (and for me, Mountainquest as well), and earning the bragging rights to be able to say: yeah, I'm in Mr. Z's class.

Can you all tell how much I loved fourth grade?
I surely hope so.

All of this combined into one big happy pot of nostalgic soup is what makes me want to teach. I remember waking up excited to go to school every day. I remember wanting to do all my homework and even more, wanting to stay at school and find things to do, wanting to learn. School was the bee's knees, in my opinion. And I want to make that the case for other kids, just like Z did for me.

So thanks, Mr. Z, for being the most interesting, influential, insane, and nearly every other i-adjective I can think of teacher.

P.S. I'm not nearly as technology savvy as he is, but if you'd like to blog stalk him, the URL is I highly recommend you check it out.

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