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March 1, 1993
Vol. 50
No. 6

Describe Your Favorite Teacher. . .

Ms. Gonzalez isn't back this year. She went to another school to teach for more money. She had to go, my Mom said, because she has a kid in college, and she has to pay. Ms. Gonzalez was my best teacher, my very best teacher.
In the spring she helped us learn about butterflies. We sang songs and talked about social butterflies who care too much about looks. We went on a field trip to see what butterflies need to eat to stay alive and their food chain. We also talked about the geometry of butterfly wings, and we guessed how many butterflies it would take to fill up one whole wall of our classroom. Then we mixed watercolor paints for butterfly wings, starting with just the primary colors: red, yellow, blue.
Next we named all the parts of the butterfly's body—eyes, antennas, and stuff. We made up a haiku about butterflies, and we wrote a biography, pretending we were a butterfly. Then we thought about why we would want to grow up to be a butterfly and if it had disadvantages. It does! We spent a whole month on butterflies, and we did it in the spring because butterflies are a symbol of spring.
After butterflies we learned a whole lot about growing. We learned how numbers grow by adding them up and that they grow very fast with exponents. We learned about constellations and how the universe grows. The United States grew through a Revolution. Our bodies grow when we exercise, and we also grow when we learn.
We learned about growing for a while but not long enough! We got to see how popcorn seeds grow and we popped them and sprinkled on cheddar cheese we grated ourselves.
After butterflies and growing, we spent time on clay and its chemistry. We also spent time on harmony and webs. Ms. Gonzalez even had some earrings from Matamoros, and one was a spider and the other one was a web. In webs we talked about spider environments, webs that people weave (families!), towns, clubs, and webs like gangs. In biology we talked about how spiders make babies. In mathematics we multiplied how many spiders you would have if certain predators died. That's a real problem, you know. The ecology is another kind of web.
We used our clay to make pottery spiders, and we figured out the temperatures in the kiln. Ms. Gonzalez kept my clay spider on her desk because it was heavy and held down her papers when we had the windows open. In the classroom we had a big spider with six legs we sat in for reading. The spider is named Charlotte, of course.
Once I told a lie, and Ms. Gonzalez talked to me about it when it was just me in the room. But when she is proud of us, she tells us in front of the other kids. She blew up at us one day because someone fed popcorn to the parakeets and one died. But she apologized the next day in front of all the kids.
I was supposed to have Ms. Gonzalez for 4th grade, too, because we're in pods here. I'm sad Ms. Gonzalez left because she didn't just talk about one thing and then put it away. It all fit together so you wanted to have Ms. Gonzalez next year and the year after that and the year after that. You wanted to know what I call “professional.” That's it.

Isaac Dill has been a contributor to Educational Leadership.

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