I do this thing when I read. I take a pen, usually a colored one, and draw a loopy circle around a section that I love or that I want to find later. It stands out and it’s easy to find. I do this because of Mrs. Hynd, who taught me in 1981. “Circle all the important ideas with a colored pen so when you open your book you can find them at a glance. It will be very helpful in the future.” She was right.
I have been doing it since her suggestion forty years ago. When I teach the occasional Grade 9 English class, I follow many of her examples. She was my English Language Arts teacher in my middle years and she was INTENSE. I’m not using those capitol letters lightly. She taught me about subjects and predicates, adverbs, adjectives, prefixes, suffixes, punctuations. She explained the differences between there, their, and they’re and it stuck! She passed on a whole list of useful stuff around the English language and writing.
I still have my notebooks from that time. They are officially antiques. Looking through them is like looking at old photos. I get a kick out of my funny and insecure handwriting. Anyway, she told the class “If you ever lose your notebook, you will be copying it out from cover to cover.” I must have taken her threat very seriously since I still have the notebooks. She was a fire cracker and she’d wear these high heels that would clip-clap down the hall, sending anyone who wasn’t in their seat exactly back to where they should be. She expected mastery. We would do and re-do quizzes and assignments until our marks were decent. Our best was the only option.
At some point in our experience of who we were and who we become, we have to thank someone. Maybe a dad who loved fishing and took us on the lake and helped us love nature, or a grandmother who loved to sew or craft, or someone who just made us look at things differently—that piqued our interest in the visual.
As I start the last quint of the school year with an English 9 class I think of her and her vigorous teaching style. I pull out the old note books from her class, and dust them off for these 2021 teens to learn from. I have no idea where Mrs. Hynd is now but I thank her for expecting mastery from this English as a Second Language kid. I’ve learned a lot since then and am still learning but her class was my humble beginning and it was very important.
*Parts originally written June 5th, 2016