The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

How Children and I Learned to Learn

on July 22, 2019

Over the past month I’ve had a lot of trouble finding anything about education to write. So I decided to go back to some of my past experiences that I haven’t written about before (I hope). Today I will recall my first teaching job, which looked like becoming a disaster, but turned out to be a success.

In 1952, the year I graduated from college, I took an extra class to become a teacher. My first job was in a third grade class at an elementary school in a small town where most families had low-paying jobs, and their children were often behind in their learning.

When I went to look at my new classroom for the first time I saw that it had bare walls, beat-up desks, and only one set of reading books for the 28 children assigned to learn there. When I spoke to the principal about the scarcity of teaching materials and decent workplaces in my classroom he assured me that everything had worked out fine for the previous teacher and would certainly do the same for me.

Fortunately, another teacher was willing to lend me some books she wasn’t using and materials she didn’t need. But, since I still needed more, I also went to a nearby public library to tell them about my problem, and they agreed to lend me books from time to time. On top of that I created a weekly newspaper that I printed on the chalk board for my students to read. It told of some good things they had done recently or that had happened outside of school. Their job was to read it silently and then discuss it as a group with me.

Near the end of that school year my students and I felt that we had made good progress and wanted to show it off to parents. We decided to produce a play that involved making puppets and clothes for them, then learning how to manipulate those puppets on the stage for the whole school to see. The only thing I didn’t ask the children to do was recite the puppets’ words because it was too much for them to handle all at once. Instead we pre-recorded their voices on tape.

I have long forgotten the details of that play, but below is a newspaper’s photo–unfortunately damaged over time–of my students with their puppets and an explanation of their performance. Although I am still proud of my teaching, I am even prouder of what my students accomplished that year.

4 responses to “How Children and I Learned to Learn

  1. dolphinwrite says:

    Education happens every day. As a teacher, I understand the importance of the basics, which allows for higher levels of learning. Quality lessons, with the teacher instructing are a key, challenging lessons that bring forth what is in each child opens doors. But understanding is what brings forth the connections. As young people realize more what they are looking for is within, that with time, more will be learned, real to them and their futures. With understanding, the learning is intrinsic. Self-discovering leads to more interests, questions lead to answers, and with quality teachers, discussions opens doors that foster talks between peers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frankey Jones says:

    I know those children were so very proud of that show! (Call me. I and several others are trying to reach you.)


    • writerjoney says:

      It’s too late for me to call you now, but I will try tomorrow. Is your number still 404 422 6365? Or you could try to reach me on my cell phone : 503-313- 0304.



  3. dolphinwrite says:

    Posting #s?


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