As writers, we try to capture the little things, the details that make our character come alive. Sometimes they come to us out of the depths of our imagination, sometime from keen observation, or sometimes from something we know well.
I needed a great teacher skill for Holly Sanders in Family Lessons. I needed some essential trick to catch Mason Wright’s eye, to wake him up to Holly’s talents as a teacher. I didn’t have to look far--I went to the best teachers around me. My children are far out of elementary school, so I went through my world to see what Sunday school teachers--many of whom are friends of mine--did that I found impressive.
Holly’s “clap once if you can hear me,” trick to focus the children’s attention in a crisis is a ploy used by my friend Angie. She’s an awesome teacher--devoted and creative--and kids love her. Her personality is nothing like Holly’s, but that doesn’t matter. This is a detail, not a broad stroke.
Mason’s mouth-wide-open reaction to how well her strategy works is a favorite moment of the book for me. I remember being astonished the first time I saw my friend Angie use the “clap once if you can hear me.” I couldn’t believe it worked so well in a room full of rowdy second graders! It was great fun to get to give her talents a literary nod.
What about you? What great teachers do you remember from your early school days as either a student or a parent?