Thursday, March 13, 2008

Teachers and Students

HA! I woke up in a pink mood today *smile*...a woman reserves the right to change her mind, hair color and blog color at any given moment! I can be fickle like that...I haven't been in a while, but it's coming back. Last night I went to my Pilates class...NEVER,never take a pilates class while recovering from bronchitis, it's all about breathing, abs and glutes. I almost passed out, had a hacking cough attack and got some killer cramps in my abs, which miraculously I have found 28 pounds later...the glutes are another story - but a woman's gotta be soft somewhere lol.

I called my mom this morning and we had a long talk. My mom is an expert on certain things and she offered up some quality advice this you Mom. And so, everyone will suffer in pink.

My all-time favorite teacher was my twelfth grade English teacher Mr.Gray. I have never tried so hard to make a man laugh in my entire life - he was the kind of man who smiled with his eyes, yet hid his smile with his gray mustache. Adorable, especially to a 17 year old girl. He was the first teacher who gave me a "B" in English and I worked my ass off to get that final "A" as my end of the year grade. We remained in contact after high school, every now and then I would return to visit him and share some of the college experience. I remember once he told me that he would have loved to have written a book about how people come in and out of our lives and touch us in ways that we never could have imagined. One brief encounter and our lives are altered in some way.

I remember writing Mr. Gray a letter about a Literature of AIDS course I was taking and telling him about an experience that touched my life tremendously. My professor had given us an assignment to go to Washington D.C. to visit the AIDS Quilt that was spread across the mall...the Quilt was spread across an area comparable to that of 20 football fields, this was in 1994 or 5. Julie and I took the subway to D.C. from College Park, had lunch, went shopping and finally made our way over to the Washington Monument, where we saw and felt raw emotion. When we had arrived the day had been partly sunny, but now the clouds were looming. As we walked around the perimeters of each individual quilt, reading the names, hobbies, passions of those who had been taken by AIDS, a voice over a loudspeaker reading name after name after name of the people represented by those quilts accompanied us. Unless you have lived this experience, you just can't even imagine the sadness.

Julie and I didn't really speak, we would just look at each other every now and then, sometimes eye contact is enough. Then, we felt the first raindrops falling. The voice over the loudspeaker made the following announcement: "WE ARE GOING INTO AN EMERGENCY DOWNPOUR SITUATION, EVERYONE NEEDS TO FOLD A QUILT AND PLACE IT IN THE PLASTIC BAG THAT YOU WILL FIND UNDER THE QUILTS!" There were about five of us standing around one quilt, each of us reacted and we folded "our" quilt together, then we kind of looked at each other with adrenaline racing and an embarrassed smile. I turned my head to see what the others had done, I still get chills thinking about this...The entire AIDS quilt, 20 football fields long, had been placed in bags and all I could see was a bright green lawn dotted with plastic bags. Someone started clapping and everyone joined in under the torrential downpour until we were all clapping, whistling, cheering and soaking wet. Freaking unbelievably emotional moment - the kind of moment that gives you a new perspective on humanity and what we are capable of, not only as individuals, but as individuals working together.

Mr. Gray died of AIDS complications. I was in Italy and missed his funeral.

But, what he taught me about people coming in and out of our lives and the impact they leave is still with me. The impact can be negative, and we learn a lesson from that. Then again, there are those people who touch our lives in such a beautiful way that we are able to learn and grow.

In Aidan's blog, she wrote:
Giving birth to a child does not automatically mean that someone is competent to raise children, and people who have not given birth to children are also qualified to raise and care for children. People who have not given birth to a child can and do contribute a great deal to Deaf children's upbringing. It is not about measuring who is mother enough and who is not mother enough. People who have this kind of attitude who make negative comments are looking for a way to shut up the people who are passionate about children's futures.
I agree with this statement, and as a teacher, I have seen that many parents are not so great at raising their kids or identifying their needs. Each individual child is different and a good mother, like a good teacher, recognizes this fact.

Jean Boutcher's comment really disturbed me and I found the wording highly inflammatory:
This is a good example. The UNthinkable or "not smart" oralists learn to sneer from their audistic masters. The thinkable (intelligent) oralists do not sneer.

The idea of a teacher as an "audistic master" is tormenting for me to comprehend, yet Mishka and others..see Paotie's Blog have experienced this treatment to such a point as to use this term.

The job of a teacher is as delicate and should be as unconditional as that of a mother, any professional who works with children should be conscious of this privileged role.

Some people are born teachers while some people remain students their entire lives. There is a major difference between preaching and teaching. Learning is an ongoing process and true teachers recognize that they will always be students. I have been blessed to have had some exceptional teachers.


Naomi said...

beautiful post Jodi, not the girliest girl, but even I have pink on one of my blogs!

In our karate dojo we have a saying, all students are teachers and all students are teachers. All of us can learn from someone else and equally teach someone else.

Naomi said...

oops messed up the quote note to self, don't comment when tired, got to bed....

it should have been

All students are teachers and all teachers are students!

Anonymous said...

great post as usual!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post!

You're a terrific teacher, Jodi. I appreciate your methodologies as a blogger very much.

You're very open-minded and that's more than I can say for a lot of people - Deaf or not.

*pretends to be David Lee Roth (sans tighties)*

Ow! Got it bad,
Got it bad,
Got it bad,
I'm hot for teacher!
I've got it bad, so bad
I'm hot for teacher!



Unknown said...

Naomi...I saw that PINK on your blog! I love your karate stories and wise words. Blog on, girl! Jodi

Unknown said...

Hmmm. Your comments here are starting to touch careful!
(sans tighties)-rotfl hard.
Ms. Del Dottore *wink*

mishkazena said...

Some teachers are great, others suck.

My fav teacher was a tough elderly nun who wouldn't have taken any nonsense from her students. Many students who weren't serious disliked her and the serious students loved her. Brazen, I took her course Latin IV after finding out Latin III wasn't available. Well, I did well and made myself a lifelong friend.

By the way, I was there at the AIDS Quilt Day when people folded the quilt due to the incoming rain. I never knew about the public announcement. I assumed the folders were the assigned volunteers. Perhaps we have walked by each other that time? :)

That exhibit was awesome and so heart-breaking. My friend asked me to go with him to honor his colleague who passed away due to complications of AIDS

Unknown said...

That is crazy that you were there that same day, beyond...Jodi

Anonymous said...

Lovely! As usual :)

Have got a special soft-spot for all you teachers: my sweet husband is a long-time high school teacher, and I know he's got a very special sensitivity that you just don't see in most people who work in other fields. I know I certainly don't have his zen-like patience!

I don't quite think I can rock the David Lee Roth thing like Paotie though.

Beaux Arts de Boutjean said...


My friend, himself a writer, has read your comment (vid. infra) and would like to know if he could interview you about your teachers who taught you and other students that Deaf people were stupid. He considers your teachers as abusive to you and other students. What is the name of the teachers as well as of the school? John Tracy Clinic? Are you interested in an interview? The interview would in the form of a film.

Mishkazena says at

"Superiority, based on my personal experiences as well as countless other oral deaf people. In the oral deaf settings, we were drilled endlessly how fortunate we were to be able to speak and hear (or lipread), unlike "those people" who use their hands. We were taught to look down on Deaf people as unfortunate and stupid people. Since I was indoctrinated in this audistic environment, I can spot it one mile away". March 11, 2008 6:53 PM

Kim said...

I loved what you wrote here once again. Adults have so much power over kids every day. We're all teachers to a certain extent, which is why I take special care to be as gentle as I can with kids at all times. When children break a rule, it's usually because of misunderstanding.

I used to work with a sixty-five year old woman who would NEVER sing, not even the Happy Birthday song, because her first-grade teacher once made fun of her in front of her entire class. So sad.

Unknown said...

Ha! Did you decide to become pink because of my hot pink shirt? I've had so many teachers who've made impacts on my life. I should blog about that...

Naomi said...

Great idea Rachel! It is interesting reading about how different teachers impact on lives...sounds like more blogging for you!

Lisa C. said...

I didn't have some good teachers when I was in an oral school. My language was taken away till my speech improved that didn't happen till I was ten. I was abused verbally by one of the teachers during the last 2 years of this school. I was glad to be out and into the mainstreamed school and then residental deaf school where I had some wonderful teachers. Some of them were deaf and role models.