It’s back-to-school time, and today I have a few first grade memories, around 1970 at Jackson Elementary. My teacher was Miss Wilson. She was a fairly new teacher, and I remember a few years later excitedly clipping out her engagement and wedding photos from the local paper.
I remember liking a boy, Keith, in class. I was a very shy child overall, but apparently I had my moments. I clearly remember whispering to Keith several times (he sat either in front of or behind me), “How about a little kiss?” to which he would scowl and make a fist. Ah, so much for first love.
I also remember our class playing “Seven Up” whenever we had a few free moments. We would all put our heads down, and the teacher would choose seven kids to go hide inside the coat closet (really it was just a recessed part of the wall that had a long vinyl pull-out “door”). After they had hidden, the remaining kids would have to see if we could name all seven kids who had disappeared. If we make a correct guess, I think we got to go to the front and choose someone to disappear for the next round.
We had ability-based reading groups, and as the type-A firstborn that I was, I was in the “Sunflowers” (the best group). In my memory (and in contrast to today), I went to first grade totally unable to read (my mom didn’t want to try teaching me for fear she would do it wrong). I remember asking her, how would the teacher ever have time to teach us to read every word there was? Also, would we ever be asked something really hard, like 100+ 100? I couldn’t comprehend such a vast number. My mom said the teacher would not ask that until she thought I was ready – which was a bit scary, as it connoted that a time would come when I was ready for such a task.
After we had been put into reading groups, I remember our first day with books. We got to learn the words on the first two pages: “Janet” and “Mark!” I was so excited when the next day we learned to read “Janet and Mark.”
Miss Wilson noticed that I always seemed to finish my work pretty quickly. She asked if I would like to help kids in the lowly Blue Violets reading group. Being apprehensive, I said no.
But when I got home, I re-thought this and decided it would be fun. What to do? I had already told her no! My mom suggested I pick a little flower bouquet to bring Miss Wilson the next day, and tell her I did want to help. I did, and I remember enjoying helping those Blue Violets all the rest of the year.
We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it. ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss
What do you remember about first grade? Do you remember the name of your reading group?