WordPress asks, what makes a teacher great. Well. I can’t put my finger on anything specific so I thought I would share some stories about my favorite teachers:
I have had four teachers who truly set a course for me in life that without their guidance and belief in me, I would not find the world as interesting as I do now.
First here was Mr Walker, who was my fifth grade teacher at Mountlake Terrace Elementary. He had to dig deep and put a lot of thought into what my strong suit was because I wasn’t a smart kid. I was sort of mess. Well. I guess a better way to say it was that I a loser. Had I not been tall at the time and a hell of a fighter with a wicked right hook I probably would have been bullied.
Mr Walker recognized my love and talent for writing and he helped me to find a way to use that skill in all of my classwork.
When I went up a grade the next year I went into Mr.Patterson’s class and I found out Mr Walker had clued Mr Patterson into my writing skills and they figured out that was something I needed to be encouraged to pursue.
Mr Patterson did exactly that so by the time I was headed for Junior Highschool, sitting down and writing a thousand words for and essay was really easy for me.
In Junior High I was in Mr Stern’s English class. I loved him. Mr Stern introduced us to Shakespeare . In his class we read Romeo and Juliet and then we saw the movie. Afterwards we had discussion comparing the two and we decided we’d rather read it then to see that stupid movie ever again.
The funny thing is, all of the boys wanted to read the part of the Nurse, only the girls wanted to read Romeo and nobody wanted read the part of Juliet because she was going to get everybody killed and not in a cool or fun way.
We were 13 at the time and more then a few of us had started seeing love struck girls in our midst and the airhead boys who fell for them and you know, we didn’t see anything romantic in that.
After that class I decided Shakespeare was fun and years later when a TV show called ” Upstart Crow ” went on the air, I think my class of Juliet Haters was onto something. We saw the humor in Shakespeare’s work when it was expected that you revere the Bard in all of his glory.
Mr Stern made that happen.
And then there was Ms Teachman in Highschool.
She was our first real glimpse into a world where creativity, individuality and true to your nature were prized qualities. Most of the suburbanites I went to school with were terrified of being anything other then the future Soccer Moms and Fratboys Forever. So she wasn’t popular.
But I loved her because from her I learned to see that for as dark and serious as I was there was something in my nature that was the opposite of that. I think she saw what I looked like and the ‘attitude’ but she also saw that most of my friends were outcasts and that I looked out for them- plus even though I wore a leather jacket before that was thing for girls, I listened to Mozart and Abba.
She also found a way for me to get extended credit for writing because at the time Creative Writing wasn’t a class that got taken seriously, so it ended in our Sophomore Year. She thought it was important that I get credit for my writing, so she told me how to apply for extended credit how to put a plan together.
If I did that and produced work, I could get academic credit towards my credits for graduation.
I think that what made these teachers special was that they took that extra step and not only fed my brain with lessons, they encouraged my curiosity and they were willing to let that curiosity take me where it was going to take me without sticking a map in it’ s hand’s and telling it where to go.
That takes daring and in all of the things I have learned in life- you need that most of all.
I learned that from my teachers.