Once upon a time, there was a girl named Shiny. She had been spending a very happy and busy time with her family and did not have to think about books or homework and learning all sorts of new things but now it was time for a new school year to start. Shiny was going to be in the Third Grade. Her mother had stopped by the school one day to find out who Shiny's teacher was going to be and to show Shiny where her new classroom was located. Shiny looked forward to seeing all her school friends again, to making some new friends and to meeting her new teacher. According to some of the older children, Mrs Gill was a very kind and patient teacher who was much loved by her students. Shiny was sure she would like being in Mrs. Gill's classroom. She was relieved that she was not assigned to Mrs. Marry's room. Mrs. Marry was known to be very strict and some students thought she was very mean!
On the first day of school, Shiny was excited. Her mother had worked very hard to have everything ready - she had some really nice new school clothes to wear and a brand new schoolbag in which to carry her pencils, crayons and notebooks. As she headed down the hallway towards her new classroom, she did feel a little bit nervous. She spotted the doorway to her new classroom and read the sign posted on the wall:
“WELCOME TO THE THIRD GRADE FROM MRS GILL“
Several other students were already there seated at their desks when Shiny walked into the room. She walked up and down each row until she found a desk with her name on it. Her place was in the front row. Right after she put her book bag on the shelf under her chair, Mrs. Gill walked into the classroom.
Shiny sat quietly and looked at her new teacher. Mrs. Gill looked quite young and a little bit fat. Her skin was brown and she had short black hair. She looked quite tall as she stood at the front of the class and smiled at all the students looking her over very carefully. Shiny liked the way her new teacher looked and she especially liked that she was wearing a big warm smile.
Mrs. Gill walked from desk to desk and greeted each student with welcoming remarks. Shiny was very happy that her new teacher looked friendly - just as her friends had described. While the teacher stood chatting with a student in the second row, Shiny started talking to the student sitting next to her. Mrs. Gill turned around when she heard Shiny's voice and said: “ Shiny, I do not allow any talking in my class unless I ask you a question. That behavior is not acceptable in my classroom.“
Shiny was sad that she had broken the class rules on her very first day and she made up her mind that she would never again chat with anyone else when she was supposed to be listening. She also remembered that last year, when she was still a Second Grader, her teacher had given her time-out for talking too much. She was glad that today Mrs Gill was simply giving her a warning.
Later on that day, the students had an art lesson and were given their very first homework assignment. They each had to draw a picture of themselves and Mrs. Gill said: “Remember to always put your name on your work before you hand it in. I need to know whose work I am looking at so I can decide what marks to give you for your efforts.“
Shiny really enjoyed doing artwork so, as soon as she got home from school, she sat down at the kitchen table with her paper and her crayons and started to work on her drawing right away. She felt very happy! The first day with her new classmates and her new teacher had gone well. She was going to like being in the Third Grade.
Next morning Shiny was awake quite early. Her mother did not even have to shake her bed to wake her up. She had plenty of time to get washed and dressed, to enjoy her breakfast, put all her school supplies back in her schoolbag, and did not have to hurry out the door to get to school on time. But there was something she forgot to do - she left her homework on the kitchen table and forgot to put it in her bag.
Mrs. Gill had a black basket on the corner of her desk and, after each student got settled at their place, they walked up to the front of the classroom and put their homework in the basket. That was when Shiny realized she had left her work at home! Mrs. Gill looked through all the homework papers. Some of them made her smile and others made her shake her head. Then she got a puzzled look on her face and said: “Shiny, where is your homework?“ Shiny shook her head and stood up: “I am sorry, Mrs. Gill, I left it at home because I forgot to put it in my schoolbag“, she said quietly.
Mrs. Gill looked at Shiny with a very serious face. She was not smiling when she said: “Shiny, you must try to be more responsible. It is not good to be so careless when you have homework to turn in. I expect you to remember this and to do much better in the future“. Shiny sat down in her chair. She was embarrassed because all the other students were looking at her but she felt very relieved that she had not been given a time-out.
In spite of trying hard to remember all the new Third Grade rules about classroom behavior and what she had to do to make good marks in Mrs. Gill's room, Shiny got two or three warnings during the next few days. She noticed that several other students got warnings also for things they had failed to do properly or directions they failed to follow. Shiny was glad that her teacher was kind and patient and did not seem to mind having to give several warnings to some of her students.
As the next few weeks passed, Shiny became less worried about making mistakes or forgetting to do things she was asked. These warnings were just words and, as long as there were no other punishments or restrictions, she was quite content. As a matter of fact, she started taking Mrs. Gill for granted - but things were about to change!
One day the class studied all about “families“- what being a “family“ meant, what different types of “families“ there could be, and the activities that each student's family group enjoyed doing together. When the discussions were all over, each student wrote a story about their own family. Mrs. Gill gathered all the stories, punched holes at the side of each paper, and placed them in a binder. “Students, these stories are all very interesting and I thank you for doing such good work“, she told her class,“ I think your parents would enjoy reading your papers so I am going to let you each take the binder home for one night to share with your families.“
Shiny waited impatiently until her turn came to take the book home. She placed it in her schoolbag very carefully. After the family had eaten supper, Shiny got the book out of her bag and told her parents all about the “family“ project. Some of the students had even pasted a photograph of their families onto their page. Her mother and father were very impressed by all the hard work the class had done to make the project so interesting.
The next day, school had just begun when Shiny got into trouble again - she forgot to bring the class book back to school so that it could be passed along to the next student. Mrs. Gill was not happy to hear about this and she said: “ Shiny, I certainly hope this forgetfulness is not becoming a habit of yours. Be sure to bring the book to school tomorrow.“ The teacher's voice was very serious and she was not smiling.
At the end of the day, Shiny could not wait to get home and look for the book. She searched all over her house and could not find it anywhere. She continued looking in every corner, on every shelf, and even checked under her bed but the class family book had disappeared! The end of the week came and the book was still missing. Mrs. Gill had reached the end of her patience. Shiny had forgotten so many things and her teacher had given so many warnings that now something more drastic was needed.
“ It is so sad, Shiny,“ Mrs. Gill said, “that for three days you will not be able to have recess with the other children. I want you to stay seated at your desk and I will give you a list of spelling words to write while the other students are playing outside.“
When it came time to go home at the end of the day, Shiny was not in a happy mood. Since she had not told her mother about losing the family book, she could not ask her mother to help her find it. She went to bed quite early but she could not fall asleep because she was worried and upset. She tossed and turned all night long so that, when morning came, she was not rested and refreshed. When her mother came into her bedroom and told her it was time to get up and get ready for school, Shiny just moaned and groaned and said: “Mom, I have been awake all night with a terrible tummy ache. I don't think I am going to be able to go to school today.“ Shiny's Mom put her hand on Shiny's forehead to see if she was running a temperature but the skin felt perfectly normal. After thinking for a few minutes, her Mom decided to let Shiny stay at home just in case any other symptoms developed.
Shiny had a very lazy day to herself and she did not even think about the problems she was having at school. She slept very soundly when she went to bed that night and she ate a very good breakfast when she got up in the morning - but then she remembered the missing book and decided she had better stay at home for one more day. “Mom, my stomach is still hurting“, she said as she rubbed her stomach after breakfast. This time her plan did not work. Her mother became suspicious that Shiny was playing a game and trying to avoid going to school. She started asking a lot of questions and there were some answers she did not like. Shiny finally had to admit that there was really nothing wrong with her stomach. The problem was that she did not like Mrs. Gill and no longer wanted to be in her class.
Shiny's mother listened carefully when Shiny told her how she felt. After thinking it over for a few minutes, she said : “ Well, Shiny, I want the Third Grade to be a really enjoyable time for you. You will be learning all sorts of new things. It is very important that you respect and get along with your teacher. I will go with you tomorrow and we will stop by the Principal's office and see if you can be assigned to another class.“
That was certainly welcome news to Shiny! It meant she would not have to miss recesses, she would not have to sit there in the room doing spelling words when everyone else was outside playing, and it meant she would have a second chance to do much better work and not forget things she was asked to do. The Principal and her mother talked for several minutes before they made the decision to assign Shiny to another teacher. Shiny was so excited about the change that she completely forgot to ask the name of her new teacher.
After a walk down the school corridor looking for the new room number, Shiny and her mother entered the classroom and looked over at the teacher's desk. Who do you think was sitting there? It was Mrs. Marry. “ What have I done now?“ Shiny asked herself.
Suddenly she did not feel as happy about the classroom change. She remembered all the things she had heard about Mrs. Marry - that she was very strict with her students. Some of them thought she was mean and rude. Shiny stood beside her mother and her eyes opened wide as she looked at Mrs. Marry for the first time.
Mrs. Marry was older than Mrs. Gill. She looked very skinny and she wore her glasses down on the end of her nose. Her black jeans and blue shirt were very plain in contrast to several rings she flashed on her fingers. The teacher stood up as Shiny and her mother approached her desk. There was no warm welcoming smile on her face as she greeted the new arrival.
Shiny felt very tense and nervous after her mother left the classroom. She sat very quietly at her desk and hardly moved for the rest of the day. She did not talk to any of her neighbors because Mrs. Marry quickly gave time-outs to two girls who were chatting in whispers. There were no warnings here - just lickety-split no-nonsense time-outs! Shiny was already missing Mrs. Gill but she knew that it was her own fault that she had lost such a kind and patient teacher! She was going to have to make the best of it because there was no way that she could keep on changing teachers every time she had a problem.
She knew that there would definitely be punishments if she broke the rules so she became determined to really make a great effort to make good grades and please her teacher.
Within a few days time, changes began to appear in Shiny's attitude towards her schoolwork and towards her teacher. Once she knew that there would be no warnings or second chances, Shiny began to pay more attention in class and she always tried to do things correctly the first time she was asked. By the end of the first month, Shiny realized that Mrs. Marry had not had to punish her a single time. Doing good work and following instructions really made school a lot more enjoyable. And her parents were very pleased at the progress she was making.
One day, Mrs. Marry called Shiny to the front of the class. As she walked towards the teacher's desk, Shiny could hear her own heart beating very loudly and her knees began shaking as she wondered what she had done wrong or what had she forgotten to do and what punishment was she going to receive?
Mrs Marry came and stood beside Shiny. She seemed even taller as she looked down at her student. Suddenly, a great big giant smile lit up her whole face. “ Students, I want you all to know that Shiny is one of the best girls in this class. She always pays attention. She has worked very hard this month. I love having a good student like Shiny and I want you all to use her as a role model.“ The entire class started clapping their hands in applause and Shiny was so proud of the good work she had done. It was worth all the effort!
When she got home that afternoon, she could not wait to tell her mother what had happened. She burst in the door and ran into the kitchen and gave her mother the whole story about the day. Her mother gave her a big hug and said: “I am so happy that you finally got such a good teacher.“ Shiny thought it over for a minute before she replied: “No, Mom, I still like Mrs. Gill more than Mrs. Marry but I lost Mrs. Gill as my teacher because of my own carelessness. I learnt a good lesson from that so I tried much harder to please Mrs. Marry, even though I still think she can be very strict and a little mean sometimes.“ Her mother had a great big grin on her face when Shiny finished by saying: “ You know, Mom, we behave differently with different people. A good teacher can become bad if we behave badly and a bad teacher can become good if we behave well.“
Shiny's Mom nodded her head in agreement! She was so happy that Shiny had learnt such an important lesson from her Third Grade experience - it was a lesson that she could carry in her heart for many more years!