Today is October 31, 2013. I never had to second-guess that October is a month with 31 days.
Joey, one of my students, asked me whether every month had 31 days. He was responding to my writing prompt for the day–How would you define Gothic? He wanted to bring in background information about calendars. I looked at him considering all the possible responses I could give, such as, “Look it up”, “Just do the best you can” or “Why don’t you know that???” Instead, I remembered something my Dad taught me when I was a young kid. So instead of telling Joey anything at all, I showed him a mnemonic which he will never forget.
Dad showed me how to make a fist and use my knuckles and dips between knuckles to recite the months in order. The index finger is “January” and the valley between the pointer and the “dirty” finger is “February.” Continue on until the pink knuckle, which is “July,” and then tap it again for “August” and go towards the index finger again. Joey watched in amazement as my fingers unraveled the mystery of days in months. Then he made his fingers dance the same information. He was elated.
Teaching this took seconds from me and passed along a tried and true legacy. Feeling joy from that simple teaching moment with Joey, I was reminded once again why I teach: Teaching was a gift to me and imparting knowledge, simple and grand, is my legacy to my students.