I’m not a teacher. I have friends who are teachers, and while I covet their summers, weekends and holidays off, I don’t know that I could do what they do. They teach an average of 30 children/teenagers who range from behaviorally disruptive, to highly gifted, and everything in between. Think about trying to keep a gifted child engaged while the future gang banger is cutting quiet girls clothes with his fiskar scissors, meanwhile someone blew chunks (threw up), on their desk, and there’s an escalating argument over a missing matchbox car in the corner.
Teachers have the responsibility of people’s future in their hands. A bad teacher can turn a student off of a subject forever. They may have been able to build a great career in a field they gave up on because of an experience with a bad teacher. Undiscovered potential is tragic. Having written about my worst teacher experience a few weeks back, (I still blame that big jerk for my mathematical ineptitude), I think it’s time to pay homage to the good teachers out there, the ones who change lives for the better.
When I was nineteen, I found Mr L, the teacher who was to become my all time favorite. He was intense, and passionate about what he taught. His enthusiasm was infectious. I threw myself into those classes completely. My efforts were rewarded with more information. I knew some of my peers found his methods harsh, but I found him inspiring, and I look back on that time with fond memories.
Fast forward a lot of years:
Six years ago when my son was in second grade he had the teacher he will always look back on as his favorite. She loved teaching, and took every aspect of it seriously. She took the time to determine what kind of learners each individual child was, and taught each child in a way that corresponded with that information. There were approximately thirty children in her class, and she determined whether their basic learning styles were: auditory, visual, or kinesthetic. She broke it down even further, but as I said, I’m not a teacher, so if you’re curious you are welcome to look at the chart.
It turned out that my son was a physical learner. He learned best by doing, hands on. Mrs. C put the kids at tables with other kids who had the same learning styles, and she assigned them activities based on their methods of learning. That explained why I had such a hard time helping my son with his homework, and I still do. My learning style is more verbal and visual, and that didn’t work with him at all. My son had a great year with Mrs.C. His confidence and his reading and math skills skyrocketed.
Fast forward to present day:
About a week ago I was having a conversation with a co-worker, and somehow we uncovered the fact that we both studied at the same place, and we discussed my favorite teacher, Mr. L. She had a completely different opinion of him than I did. She said: “He was the original Simon Cowell.” I can see that. What’s wrong with Simon? For some reason that tough love worked for me, but she found him oppressive, and she didn’t get much out of his classes. I loved him. You knew what he thought. He didn’t coddle you. You were there in his class because you wanted to be there, so he expected you to work. She must have a different learning style that didn’t mesh with his I guess.
Any way once again, what’s my point? What’s the pay off for reading this entire post? How about an old joke:
Boy: “I got an F in arithmetic.”
Boy: “The teacher asked ‘How much is 2×3?’ and I said ‘6’”
Father: “But that’s right!”
Boy: “Then she asked me ‘How much is 3×2?'”
Father: “What’s the fucking difference?”
Boy: “That’s exactly what I said!”
The Daily Post, March 8, 2015, Daily Prompt We Can Be Taught
What makes a teacher great?
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