Human beings spend a great portion of their lives learning. We sit in classrooms, we listen, we observe, and all the while there is always someone there for us, someone to clarify, to teach, and to guide. There is no doubt that teachers are an integral part of a person s life, whether a child or a young adult, teachers are always there. A cornerstone for our self-betterment, teachers have little choice but to have an impact on the person a child becomes, and quite possibly more importantly, the person a child strives to become. The passage by Ernesto Gallarzo is a poignant memoir of a young boy in his first ventures into an American school, and it contains some very important aspects of a teacher-pupil relationship, the impacts the teacher has may have been intensified by the unique needs of the student, but it encompasses the general idea. The poem while again an exceptional scenario, also portrays the deep impact the slightest actions of a teacher can have on a child, who holds them upon a pedestal.
To attend school, is to be in the care of an adult other than your parents or guardians for six to eight hours out of the some 13 hours you are awake. To feel that your safety is entrusted in someone, who may just be a complete stranger, a person who you may not have ever even met before, is an intense experience, and feelings of suspicion, vulnerability and fear surpass all others. In the end however, as if by the casting of a spell, the teacher comes into the possession of the trust, the love and the confidence of the children. In Ernesto s experience, school was an exceptional challenge, he was not only going to school to learn, he was going to school to become an American. He was afraid, and he felt insecure, but after he realized he had no choice but to confide in and trust unconditionally his teacher, Miss Ryan, he idolized her he fell in love with her. Miss Ryan became the foundation of his drive to become an American, the backbone of his longing for shining moments of glory like the day [he] conquered butterfly. In the end, Miss Ryan overcame [his] fears. He received private language lessons, and he bonded with the teacher, they [discovered] together the secrets of the English language and [grieved] together over the tragedies of Bo-Peep, this detail creates a picture of a young teacher sitting quietly with a student reading a book together as if they had known each other for an eternity, a picture of the student becoming so entranced by the contents of a book, that the pride radiates from the teachers face. It also shows that they who were so different in origin became an interdependent, a caring loop that shared knowledge and confidence. In writing this memoir, Ernesto uses a very surreal tone, almost as if he himself cannot imagine what his life would be like if he had never had such a teacher as Miss Ryan, if he had never attended Lincoln. As the base from which Ernesto built the person he was to become, Miss Ryan as a teacher, through her consistency, her no-nonsense character , showed him that to achieve difficult tasks, you have to be loyal, devoted and caring. She touched a small, influential child s heart as a teacher, as a source of knowledge and praise, and he never forgot it, because she was there to give him what he needed to feel that becoming a proud American did not mean feeling ashamed of being a Mexican.
In the poem Tornado Drill, the effect a teacher can have on a student is very evident. Through detailed imagery and a shift in tone, the writer enhances the impression his teacher had on him, as she provided a foundation for his expectations of what his schooling was to be about. The detail in the beginning of the piece is astounding. We have all been in the class with the teacher who just never gives in, the teacher who, on long, hot, oppressive days, expects you to work, study and produce. In this poem the reader can see the rows of sweaty, tired, restless children, hoping and praying that Mrs. Wells would give in and end the misery of [writing] the alphabet neatly, as the chalkboard models showed. The tone so far in the piece is lethargic and almost painful, as every word expresses a deep desire to be elsewhere. The point at which the tornado alarm goes off, the tone switches to that of a child learning a valuable lesson, a grateful tone is hinted, as Mrs. Wells brought order to their world as it seemed to be falling to pieces with just four words. The reader again can hear the teacher, over the alarms and chattering of the children, It s just a drill, and everything makes sense again, order has been restored. This poem shows that the consistency and devotion of a teacher to his or her student has a profound impact on the lives of their children. Mrs. Wells determination to make her students work, even under the most burdensome conditions, taught them that when there is something to be done, when you are striving to achieve something, you should never let anything get in your way not even a tornado, that some things in life require sacrifices and you cannot also whine about them. This consistency, this habit she has developed after years of acting as a cornerstone for the lives of some 30 children a year, proved invaluable at a time of chaos, a time of potential disaster. When Mrs. Wells reminds the children of a familiar routine, the drill, they switch into autopilot, they knew the drill and had practiced it, the whipped into two line [and] survived.
Regardless of the experiences a child has with their teachers throughout their schooling, there are very few who can honestly say that everyone of their teachers didn t teach them something, didn t touch their hearts, their lives in some way. As a foundation, as a constant reminder, teachers shape children into people. It is true that not all children turn out terrific, but that isn t necessarily the objective of a teacher. A teacher helps a child find who they are, and who they want to be, they help them become individuals who will in turn help others, who will learn, listen and trust.