Oh, right. Because fourth grade was basic training for my creativity.
Weekly email archives and occasional extra words that don't have a home anywhere else on my site.
“Oh, call me Fran.”
⛔️ On the contrary, madam, I most certainly will not be calling you Fran. ⛔️
A few years ago, I was in Kansas City and drove my mom to a post–knee replacement physical therapy appointment. And in walked my fourth-grade teacher, ready for her own appointment.
And after all those years, I was weirdly starstruck.
Mrs. Lancaster. That’s her name, not Fran.
She had the same kind eyes I knew as a child, the same cropped gray hair. Memories of my best year of grade school — the only one where memories of my bullying don’t crowd all the good out — rushed in.
Mrs. Lancaster was petite, wore oversized linen clothes, and favored chunky silver jewelry studded with turquoise.
Outward softness aside, she was a disciplinarian. Regimented. She suffered no fools. 🙅🏻♀️
Students didn’t cut through the classroom willy-nilly to get to their desks. We traced the perimeter to our column of desks and walked from the back of the room to our assigned seat.
A poster board hung on the wall with rows of little folders taped to it, each marked with a student’s name, taped to them. A stack of green, red, and yellow cards waited to mark kids as especially good or generally misbehavin’.
Line-leader privileges were almost certainly at stake.
I remember little of what I learned that year — I forget the Wordle solution as soon as I close the window — but I know I was some shade of happy.
Mrs. Lancaster’s love for structure is what’s stuck with me. I think I felt safe there to explore what I liked and was good at. Maybe fourth grade was basic training for my creativity.
Structure and discipline can be so good for us.
And what if those yellow and red cards on the board are there not to punish us but to help us test the boundaries?
My messaging framework builds the outline for the brand stories I create with clients. It shows me the way to the desk where I can color outside the lines, play with their voice and tone, and bring a basic narrative to sparkling life.
No matter how rebellious I get with my words, I’ll never abandon that structure.
How does structure help you in your work? And how can you introduce a little more play — a little more mischief — even if it means not always being the line leader?
P.S. The following year, one of the fifth-grade teachers yelled at me in front of the entire class for wearing dress shoes that clicked on the school’s hard industrial floors.
That’s probably when my peg started to go square, when I realized it’s kinda fun to look those human red tags in the eye and wild out a little.
Still hope you step on a lego, Mrs. Shannon. 🧱
F-S: Reserved for rest