The Role of a Lifetime

Dear Reader:

I was never happier while teaching than when I was participating in an end-of the year school skit or acting out a story in the classroom…(since I rarely read a story…I told it.) The classroom was my stage and I had a “captive audience.” 🙂

Whether I was a nun, hillbilly, or football player…I loved acting. Educator and famous motivational author, Gail Godwin, must have had teachers like me in mind when she wrote her famous quote….“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation, and three-fourths pure theatre.”

I had lamps throughout my classroom and would put on the historically appropriate music on an old record player or tape player as the background theme…dim all the lamps…and tell the day’s story covering a specific historical event. Many times it was the introduction to the lesson.

I would go into my private zone…and forget there was even a class full of kids in the audience…and the shocker…they listened. Rudyard Kipling was right…“If history were taught in the form of stories…it would never be forgotten.”

And what was so surprising…on the final assessment for whatever historical period we were studying…students might miss some multiple choice, True/False, or fill-in-the blank questions…but given a choice of two out of four stories to summarize of the event…even the  struggling students would write full paragraphs on a story told.. that caught their imagination.

In teaching I knew my role in life… but outside the classroom it got hazier. Later when I worked at the district office in more of an administrative curriculum role with few guidelines…I sometimes felt like I was a ‘fake’ just winging it. I remember my joy when I got up the courage to admit it…during a district leadership workshop lead by some educational motivator.

He had asked for someone to volunteer to share their feelings on the evolving role of leadership in education. I stood up and said I sure didn’t feel like a leader…just one of the many educators trying to provide as much help as possible to as many first-year teachers or new teachers to education as possible.

I then told the work group I felt just like FDR when he told Orson Welles (while fishing at Warms Springs, Georgia in a row boat) “Orson…you and I are the two best actors in America.” I felt like I had been playing a role and that sooner or later people would see me as I really was…a fake.

Thank goodness…my open confession broke the ice…laughter erupted from principals, superintendents, academic coaches, curriculum specialists and teachers alike. I learned that day that I was not alone with these feelings of inadequacy. Cards poured in the following week…all admitting to the same fears.

I will have to say that while getting older certainly has its challenges…particularly physical…it also breaks down life-long, self-imposed barriers of inadequacy or pretense. The person the world sees on a daily basis starts merging with the inner person we know as our true selves.

What a gift God gives us…when we are able to live long enough to recognize, not only who we are, but who God meant us to be.

So until tomorrow…I now see the wisdom behind the cliche…“Fake it ’till you make it”…which suggests that by imitating confidence, competence, and an optimistic mindset, a person can realize those qualities in their real life.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

I decided a couple of weeks ago (the history grandmother) that I should get a photo prop in the form of a play astronaut helmet and take a picture of all the children holding the 50th anniversary Oreo moon cookies package to remind them in future years their age at the time of the 50th anniversary of the first walk on the moon…summer July of 2019.

*I plan to collect the grandchildren’s separate poses (the roles of astronauts) and make a collage from it with their ages beside their photos…from oldest to youngest.

You can see a difference in Eloise’s photo…she got the Oreo package and stuffed the moon Oreo cookie in her mouth…a hands-on-learner!

Chelsey, Mollie’s sister brought her two beautiful daughters to visit and they joined in the fun…bring on those girl astronauts….Madeleine and Margo.

I had dinner with Mollie, Chelsey and the children…Taco Night…a fierce thunderstorm hit while I was there…the children decided to dance in the rain and eat popsicles for dessert…a typical summer late afternoon ritual….

* Harriett…thank you for seeing and reprinting the fifth anniversary of Chapel of Hope Stories on Facebook yesterday….the one I wrote August 7, 2015. (The original date for the start was August 7, 2010…four months after Eva Cate’s arrival.)

I can always remember the age of the blog by the age of my granddaughter. Next year is the BIG ONE! The 10th anniversary of the Chapel of Hope Stories blog post…we must throw a big shingdig!!!!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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2 Responses to The Role of a Lifetime

  1. Harriett Edwards says:

    Thank you for sharing your blog with me each day. Love you!❤️


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