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To Teach is to Touch Lives
By Lois Johnson

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? And who shouldn't? This Education World series features essays on teaching by teachers as they answer the question, "If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a teacher?"

I teach first grade in a high-poverty area. The students require a lot of support from both school and home. In an effort to develop support from home, I use parent-volunteers as aides in educating my students.

Before they being to work with the students, the parents are asked to watch the strategies that I use during classroom instruction. One day, a mother was taking note of my strategy for teaching action verbs. On the board, I'd listed a mixture of words that were either action verbs, nouns, or adjectives. After going over the definition of action verbs, I instructed the students to silently read each word I pointed to and then to do whatever the word told them to do.

I began by pointing to a couple of nouns and adjectives. The students tried to hold back their chuckles as I'd say something silly like, "You're not doing anything. I just pointed to a color word and you didn't move." But when I pointed to words like "skip," "hop," "bark," and "laugh," the students went wild with the various movements. Everyone was having a ball.

After we finished that activity, the observing mother told me, "Mrs. Johnson, if my teacher had taught me language the way you teach it, there's no telling where I would be today."

Whew! I get choked up just thinking about that day. With that one mother's statement, I was reminded just how important my job really is.

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