Not That Smart

I’ve always been a good student.  I am a solid test taker, being able to eliminate the most unlikely answers on a mulitple choice test, narrowing it down to what must be correct. I can also write a killer essay for essay questions.

Except for the one time that I wet my pants in kindergarten, I did pretty well in school and teachers liked me.

Until Mrs. Markovitz in 6th grade. I spent half the day with her, for science and math, and the other half with Mr. Cunion for English, spelling and social studies.  Up to that point, I’d had five years of straight-A report cards (kindergarten was pass-fail).

I didn’t like Mrs. Markovitz, mostly because she didn’t like me. She was the kind of teacher who barked out directions, and I am more of a visual learner. I needed the page number on the board, not just in my ear. I needed to see the directions, not just hear them.

Mark DePhillips called her Mrs. Markobitch. I didn’t know what that meant, just that it was bad, by the way that he said it.

On conference day, my mom went to talk to my two teachers. She came home and said, “Susie’s teacher, Mrs. Markovitz, says that she’s not that smart, but that she’s an overachiever.”

Mom thought it was a funny thing to keep repeating. To me it wasn’t funny at all. How dare Mrs. Markobitch was thinking of ruining my perfect report cards!

But I get it now. I taught school for ten years, junior high and high school. Some kids needed to hear the directions. Others needed to see them. Others needed to get up and move their bodies in order to learn. Thankfully, Spanish class can involve lots of moving around – role playing, contests on the chalk board, small group conversations.

Once, a girl asked me what page we were supposed to turn to. I had just said it and had also written it on the board. I was exhausted from her daily lack of attention. I turned out to be her Mrs. Markobitch.

“That’s a dumb question,” I said (I am not proud of that).

My thinking was that I had provided her two ways to find the right page, both visually and auditorially, as I had every day, since the first day she came into my class.

Boy, howdy, did the proverbial poop hit the fan! She told her dad. Her dad called the principal. I was called into a meeting with Dad and principal during my planning period.

I never did that again. Ever.  But I was called into other principals’ offices a couple of times more during my ten-year reign as high school teacher.

Once, because a girl told her mom that I was mean to her. When I told her mom all the mean things the girl was saying about me to the other students, her mom was embarrassed, and her daughter was in big doo doo.

Another year I overslept twice in one week. I bought a new alarm clock. Problem solved.

But I digress.

Mrs. Markovitz, I might not have been the smartest kid in your class, but I managed to survive it and move up to 7th grade, where I got back into the swing of getting straight A’s every year, until that danged art class junior year of high school. I only made two things and got my first C.

In art class.

Go figure.

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