By Adele Phyllis Unterberg
How many of us realize the impact we project on our students?
I can clearly reflect on my own childhood memories—the smell of my teacher’s perfume, the beautiful brooch worn on a suit jacket, the tone of one’s voice, the excitement in sharing ideas, the visits to the back of the classroom where our teacher displayed interesting objects brough back from a summer vacation with maps and artifacts. Those memories are deeply set in our minds and are often influences on future career choices.
I was walking along the avenue near our local hospital when I heard a voice call out, “Oh, Ms. Unterberg, how are you?”
I turned to see a woman in a spring coat and recognized her immediately—“Donita, how are you?”
We chatted and she shared that her husband had a heart attack and was in the hospital.
I last taught her in the early ‘70s, but I remembered her name—it flowed through my voice—as she remembered me.
During these challenging times of online performance, teaching has become more than demonstrations and a sharing of ideas. The teacher has become a full-time actor, keeping the attention flowing as the audience, the subject matter, and the hands-on devices meet the needs of varying age groups and home situations.
Having to devise creative lessons is always a challenge, but so much harder on a Zoom connection. The classroom, a haven of inspiration, sharing, and nurturing for so many children, is not available, and it has become an incredible challenge to keep the attention of distanced audiences focused.
Reflecting my own childhood experiences, my classroom was a haven and a comfort. Being with one’s peers, talking, playing, eating together, and sharing ideas was joyous and spiritual.
It has been a great loss for so many today, yet it is undeniable that during this crisis, much credit is due to our classroom leaders, wherever their classrooms are.
I have been with KDP since the ‘60s at NYU. It was such an honor to be chosen by my professors, and the candlelight ceremony was deeply touching. It is an honor to write for you.—Adele P. Unterberg