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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • RUSSELL HIVELY: Toadstools, transparent teaching

  • Did you notice how the rains have given toadstools a chance to explode out of the ground?
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  • Did you notice how the rains have given toadstools a chance to explode out of the ground? The other day as I was on my morning walk along Wildcat Boulevard, I noticed the practice/physical education field just north of the Neosho High School Gymnasium was covered with toadstools.
    Then a couple days later I saw a "fairy ring" or "devil's circle" of toadstools in the yard of a Newtonia resident. We had an enormous pure white toadstool beside our deck in the back yard. At its peak, it was almost the size of a human head. If you looked out the window at night, it certainly resembled a ghost's head sitting on the ground.
    Lately, there has been a great deal of political talk about openness and being transparent. I guess my teaching was quite transparent because with the exception of lunch period I always taught with my door wide open.
    This sometimes allowed an access to visitors like Dr. Roy Shaver who sometimes had writing questions. It allowed anyone who stopped outside the door to listen to what was going on in the room.
    One of the janitors once told me he sometimes stopped and listened to my class. I was complimented by his words.    
    I also found that consistency was a plus, even in the words I used. For example, if a kid came in late he/she was always greeted with "Good afternoon, Miss/Mr/ ____. Glad you could join us."
    If someone knocked on the doorframe, that person was always greeted with "Hark! Who knocks at yonder door?" After a few months, I would sometimes hear one of the kids react with the same words before I had a chance to speak.
    Having the door open, also allowed me to monitor problems in the hall. One of the girls' bathrooms was directly across the hall from my room. If I heard someone crying inside the girls' room, I would ask one of my girl students to check if there was a problem that needed to be resolved.
    If there was a scuffle in the hall, I usually heard it and resolved the problem or sent for someone who could. My favorite fight story was when two young men began a tussle. I broke them up, and they were taken to the principal's office.
    Those days, fighting in school meant an automatic three-day suspension. Both kids were sent home. Soon one was standing on the sidewalk outside my windows waiting for his mom to come get him.
    Then the other kid came driving by, stopped his car, and the fight began a second time. This time I went outside and took one kid, and Dr. Jim Castleberry came out and took the other. I think the boys ended up with an extra week's vacation.
    Page 2 of 2 - Take a walk, look around at the oddities of nature, be open and transparent with everyone, and see what you notice while passing along Wildcat Boulevard.
    Russell Hively writes a weekly column for the Daily News.
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