A few weeks into the school year, Miss Barnes had her first grade students figured out pretty well. She gave each of them a nickname relating to class subjects. They were Reader, Thinker, Speaker, Listener and Phonics.
Miss Barnes said, “Look at the letters and say the sounds, ‘l-e-t’.” By the time pretty, dark-haired Phonics got to the ‘t’ she had forgotten what ‘le’ said.
Miss Barnes told Listener, “Thank you for paying close attention in class. I am sure you will be a good helper.”
A happy, bubbly child, Speaker never lacked for things to talk about. She had her hand raised for permission to talk about ninety per cent of the time. The other ten per cent she just talked without permission.
When Phonics got stuck sounding out a word Reader was always willing to give her a clue.
Miss Barnes said, “Reader, you are a smart boy, but you and Phonics need to learn to read the words. Don’t make things up. You read the pictures very well, but what will happen if there are no pictures on the page?”
Bible class started. After the pledges to the American and Christian flags Speaker prayed for God to bless their day. “Please help Miss Barnes today, dear Lord. Mommy said she has her hands full with this class. Amen.”
During recess Miss Barnes picked up on conversations the pupils were having.
Listener said to Thinker, “It’s hard to listen to Phonics sound out words and we know Reader just figures out stories by the pictures. Let’s come up with a way to help them.”
Thinker replied, “I know what you mean. It is even harder to listen to Speaker, because she is always talking. I want to focus on what I hear. With her I hear way too much.”
They stood and laughed like a couple of grown businessmen trying to solve a humorously serious problem.
Across the room Reader said, “Does it really matter if I don’t know the words? Why waste my time reading when I already know what it’s all about?”
Phonics answered, “Mommy said I need to concacrate on what I am doing so I can learn to read. Maybe we both ought to concacrate more.” She struggled with the big word.
Reader laughed as he corrected her. “Concentrate,” he said.
“Oh. OK.” She laughed with him.
The bell rang and everyone quickly sat down. Listener raised his hand and said, “Miss Barnes, Thinker and I have been talking and we’d like to help with Phonics class today.”
Curiously she consented. “Please step to the Phonics chart and begin.”
He began, “Pay close attention. Phonics, listen to Thinker.”
Thinker said, “Gr in grin, grin. Now look at the word. It has three sounds. Gr is the first sound, then short i, then n. Think of it all quickly and say it before you forget, Phonics.”
Phonics answered in a flash, “Grin.”
“Well done” Thinker announced like a pro. Several more words were sounded out before Miss Barnes said, “Please open your reading book to page twenty-two.”
Reader began the lesson, reading the pictures, as usual.
This timer Speaker remembered to raise her hand for permission before speaking. “Miss Barnes, may I help him?”
She began, “Reader, if you ever want to talk as much as I do you must have something to talk about. You learn what to talk about by being a good reader.” Speaker sat down and listened to him read.
Phonics was second to read. Carefully and quickly she sounded out words that had been very difficult for her before. The class applauded and shouted, “Yeah, Phonics, we knew you could do it. Good job!”
Miss Barnes praised the students for their help to each other. “All of you have been paying more attention than I dreamed you were. You each saw a need and you found a way to meet it.”
She smiled at the students and continued, “We will now pray and dismiss for lunch. “Thank you, Lord, for such a wonderful, caring class. You sometimes provide our needs in spectacular ways. Today you have given me such a blessing just from being a teacher to these amazing students. In Jesus name, Amen.”
The students’ faces beamed with delight, knowing Miss Barnes and Jesus were pleased with them.
II Timothy 4:13a Till I come, give attendance to reading…KJV
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