Culture · Education · Poetry

My Most Memorable Teaching Moment

A field of grass

We were studying the stanza from Wordsworth’s poem The Tables Turned which sums up his philosophy. It is so significant a passage that in my opinion every young person should be familiar with it.

One Impulse from a vernal wood
Can Teach you more of man
Of moral evil and of good
Than all the sages can.

However, in the middle of my disquisition, the fire bell rang. We all knew that drill. Students immediately arose from their seats and started leaving the room (“walk, do not run”) to the nearest stairwell, followed by me, the teacher, who shut my door. Upon exiting the stairwell, we proceeded to our predesignated spot in the backyard of the school where we waited for the all-clear bell to ring. 

It was a large school—two buildings—so we had to wait there quite awhile. We returned the same way, and when I, bringing up the rear, arrived, all the students were seated. And on my desk was a collection of twigs, leaves, clumps of grass, weeds—whatever my students could manage to find in the backyard to represent Wordsworth’s vernal wood.  

It nearly brought me to tears because it showed me that first of all they had been listening, maybe even starting to understand, and also that they knew me so well that they realized I would relish the joke. 

Today those seventeen-year-olds are grandparents (don’t ask me how that happened!) and I often wonder if any of them, while walking through the grass, are reminded of that time so long ago when they made their teacher’s day. 

12 thoughts on “My Most Memorable Teaching Moment

  1. What a charming story and one I am sure those same students have passed on to their grandchildren, when they reminisce about their school days and their most beloved teacher.


  2. What a wonderful memory! It’s those times that kept us going for decades. Thanks for sharing that—I could picture it so clearly.


  3. Mary, as always, you find the thoughts to share that make the moment they are read.very special.
    I hope my students remember those moments that shaped their lives as much as they shaped mine.
    Your teaching moments as our docent trainer are still strong in my mind. Thank you.


  4. Dear Mary: It doesn’t surprise me that you had a strong and inspirational influence on your students. In fact, I SAW YOU ON TV July 4th weekend in a documentary made for a program called Blueprint NYC about the Merchants House Museum. As I was watching the show, a charismatic lady appeared on screen named Mary Knapp, who spoke about the Tredwell Family and described the various rooms of the house. You see, Mary? You continue inspiring others to this day! God bless you. Hope you had a Happy 4th of July!
    Sam Ramirez
    NYC 7/5/21

    Liked by 1 person

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