There once was a man named Bob. Bob was a great guy. He was a grade-school teacher for a K-8 school that did things differently than most other schools. For one, the school, which had ninety kids across eight grades, acted a lot more like a family than an institution. The school organized yearly musicals that everyone participated in, and went on yearly camping trips, where students gathered at the campfire and told stories and sang songs.
At the beginning of each year, Bob and the other two teachers would gather with the parents and the kids at the park for a picnic. This was a great chance for the kids to run around, together again after a long summer away. The parents barbecued hot dogs and hamburgers, and the kids played on the jungle gym: an excellent way to launch the new school year!
During the year, Bob led his 5th through 8th grade class like on-going collective discussion. Each day the class had a meeting, in which they discussed important matters of the class, such as upcoming holiday parties, the spring musical, and that month’s P.E. game. After the meeting, students would often go up in front of the class and “sell” books they had read: that is, describe the book they had finished, as a way of being acknowledged for reading. Then Bob would write down the name of the book and the number of pages in his student reading log.
The students in Bob’s class felt like they were part of something. Everyone was heard. When it came to class decisions, such as what movie they would watch during that year’s Halloween party, everyone voted. When it came time for Resentments & Appreciations, each student got to say one thing they liked or disliked about what another student did. People didn’t get along all the time, but most of the time, they did.
The sense of collaboration and participation was an ever-present thing in Bob’s class. The kids worked together to put on a play each year. Popular Broadway musicals such as “Oklahoma,” “The King and I,” and “The Wizard of OZ” came to life on the cafeteria stage each year. The students used their imaginations, Bob directed, and much fun was had!
Similarly, the kids loved going on the yearly week-long camp-outs, often to places like Yosemite or Mendocino. During these times, the kids got to bond out in the wild, sometimes going on trust walks at night, or putting on skits for all the families.
It truly was much more than just a class that Bob oversaw. It was a community. For some kids, this was their community.
There once was a man named Bob, and he taught K-8 at my childhood school. Though I left Bob and everyone else behind many years ago, my memories of Bob’s class inspire me with love. I appreciate the intelligence, the creativity, and the joy that Bob brought to all of us.
I shall forever be grateful and appreciative.