Makes ya wanna think.

Memories of 5th Grade Teaching

Mr. Sharp and class

I just found these pictures of my 5th grade classroom in Prairie View Elementary School, Eden Prairie, MN. In 1978-9 I team taught with Sam Ross in this double classroom.

We built the zebra finch aviary in the top picture and finches raised families in it. We watched the babies learn to fly.

I had a wonderful class of 26 student. One of my students had spina bifida and a great full-time aide so we had 3 adults with 50+ students in our double room.

In the bottom picture is my teaching podium, which I called Mission Control. Sam and I had fun decorating our big room. When we set up the room we found a cache of cheezy seasonal classroom decorations – Pilgrims, Snowmen, Shamrocks – so we stuck them all up. In the lower picture just to my right is an autumnal squirrel partly covered by a Mayflower askew.

Sam was a blast to work with – an experienced teacher full of energy and enthusiasm and great ideas. We became lifelong friends. Teachers bond like troops do in the trenches.

I had a great time and felt like I hit my stride as a teacher in this classroom. So I quit teaching because I couldn’t imagine having a better year. I was making only $10,300 my second year of teaching and knew I wasn’t a lifer. I looked on my 5 years in public schools as my Peace Corps years – good work for low pay.

I’ taught myself programming with Apple II’s I bought home from school on the weekend and left teaching to enter the U of MN Curriculum and Instructional Systems Program. I was planning to make money in educational computing and indeed my first game ChipWits (with Mike Johnston) was a teaching game.

I got a lot out of my years of teaching and I know my students learned a lot and had a great time, too.

2 responses

  1. myrna

    I don’t know what to say. I am touched by your history in a fun way. The classroom is so you. You and Sam had to be quite a team.

    April 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  2. Adam strom

    I was googling Sam Ross and I came across your post! Awesome! Mr Ross was my 5th grade teacher circa 1986. He was great, and the room still had the giant birdcage! Do you know where Sam is these days?

    March 7, 2015 at 7:07 am

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