Lately I’ve been thinking about my seventh grade history teacher, Mr. Shakman. Mr. Shakman was unlike any teacher I had ever met -- up to that point. First off, he was a “Mister.” All the teachers at my elementary school had been female. Secondly, Mr. Shakman didn’t look like a teacher. He came to school in shorts. He decorated his classroom with posters featuring teddy bears and basketball stars, posters that included some uplifting, encouraging quote. He passed out salt water taffy as treats. He periodically let us watch “The Wonder Years,” and told us that we weren’t just watching TV, we were also getting a history lesson as well. And leading up to a big test, he had this fun game our class played as a review, which ultimately led to the “Super Bowl” between two students. (I’m proud to say I made it to the Super Bowl more than once!)
But that’s not why I’ve been thinking of Mr. Shakman. That’s just some of what I remember about him. I’m thinking of Mr. Shakman because of the basketball excitement that’s been in our house lately. (We were rooting for the Clippers). I remembered a bit of trivia I once overheard Mr. Shakman sharing with another student. He told this student that there were only a few basketball teams with names that didn’t end with an “s.” I remember he cited the Heat and the Jazz. But then I drew a blank and couldn’t remember any other names, so I turned to that omniscient source, Google, for the answer. (By the way, the missing teams are the Magic and the Thunder.)
And then that led me to wonder what my students would remember from me. Perhaps it was a trick I taught my upper-grade class about multiplying nine’s. Or, maybe it’s the term “the Vomit Comet.” (That’s the astronauts’ nickname for the XC-135 they would train in to simulate weightlessness.)
In any event, I send out a virtual “thank you” to Mr. Shakman for the memories!