I took a few minutes of class time to review the goals of the March Writing Challenge. I wanted to check in with students who have been posting regularly and offer an example to students who were struggling to come up with ideas. I shared that writing can come from many places. In fact, I had started to write about school lunches and ended up writing the following slice:
From 1st grade to 5th grade I went to St. Joseph’s School in the tiny town of Texas, Md. It was a Catholic school. My first grade teacher was a nun by the name of Sr. Boniface. She was as mean as her name makes her sound. She really disliked it when kids chewed on their fingernails. I guess she thought it was unbecoming. Every week she would line us up to inspect our nails. She would actually measure our nails to see how long they were and look for signs that we had been chewing on them. I was never a nail chewer back then, it’s a habit I developed later in life. One day when Sister was inspecting my nails she noted some raggedy edges. She asked me if I had been chewing. I told her I hadn’t- I told her that my mom had trimmed my nails the night before. It was the truth. I’ve always had an issue with lying- it seems like whenever I did tell a lie I always got caught. Now that I’m older I have a huge problem with dishonesty.
Unfortunately, Sister Boniface did not believe what I told her. I knew that arguing would not help. She struck me on the hand with a ruler. I guess that was supposed to remind me the next time I thought about chewing on my nails.
Sister Boniface wasn’t with us the whole year. I think she retired halfway through the year. Another nun took over the class. I don’t remember her name, but I do remember she was one of the nicest nuns I ever had.
By the end of the day I had shared this story five times and came to expect the horrified reactions of my students as they learned that a teacher hit me. All day I’d answered the same question- “Are teachers even allowed to hit kids?”
So, imagine my surprise when I called on Teddy during my last class of the day.
“How do you even remember what happened in first grade!”