The Loon Whisperer

Loon Whisperer Photo WIR COLUMN-grayby Terry Uhde Otto

Those who can….

I did not choose teaching. Teaching chose me.

I knew that I would be a teacher for the rest of my life the second day I student taught. The teacher who’d been assigned to supervise me was nearing the end of her career. She was tired and crabby and burning out. She spoke harshly to the students and spent a great deal of time griping about them in the teachers’ lounge at lunchtime. I think she was glad I was there because after the first week, I was pretty much left on my own for the nine weeks I was required to complete as a Student Teacher. So I taught. Or at least I tried really hard to. And I swore I’d do it without yelling or crying. By the time I left those weird, wonderful 8th graders, I was hooked. That was in 1983.

Through the years, there have been days I’ve been frustrated, angry, and sick to death of grading comma splices and sentence fragments. Actually, I’ve been a lot of things, but I’ve never been bored. There have been more than a few times in the middle of giving a lecture or talking with a student after class when I’ve thought, “Oh my GOSH! This is so much fun! I can’t believe I get a paycheck to do this!” So, I admit it. I’m a little Dork-y about teaching. I remember the moments of grace and the satisfaction as well as the students I’ve had through the years who’ve touched my heart or challenged me to be better and more compassionate. People like that tend to stay with a person.

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