I’ve heard there’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, but as I do change-of-the-year reflections, I’m thankful that I’ve had two careers that know nothing of it. I’ve been pretty amazed as I’ve moved into the writing world in my second look at “what I want to be when I grow up” that I have not found it here. There are so many people writing and such a few openings for publishing that one would think good ideas would be kept close to the vest. Not so. Writers I’ve met from big names to wannabes share ideas and helpful hints on which publisher might be interested in your piece of work. Some are even kind enough to do meticulous editing.
I had come to expect that kind of helpfulness in the teaching world. Teaching kindergarten, second grade, and junior high in Texas, Germany, and Louisiana for close to thirty years, I only came across one teacher who guarded her good ideas. Most teachers knew they could share a new method with a teacher on the hall, and it would return with improvements.
I had one that returned fortuitously from further than down the hall. I had spent considerable time in Germany making a set of timed tests for second grade math facts that included all the addition/subtraction combinations, got progressively harder, and mingled in review combinations. Before the day of doing things on the computer, I had made squares and printed the combinations in my very best second grade script. One of my parent volunteers asked for copies of the tests for her friend who taught in another school north of us.
Wouldn’t you know that the only box the Army movers ever lost for us was on our next move to Louisiana and included my carefully done tests? Not having the time to start over in my new school, I used some generic tests furnished by the school district that were not so carefully thought out.
The next year we got a new teacher on our hall transferring in from Germany. At an early second grade teachers’ meeting, she picked up one of the district tests and said, “I have a better set of timed tests than these if you would like to use them.” She pulled out her folder, and there were my tests – in my handwriting! She had received copies from a chain that began with my parent volunteer’s friend.
The proverb says, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you may find it again.” I would add, “And sometimes it has butter on it.”