As I am taking an English class as part of my studies I figured what the hell, might as well post the essays on here… Lemme know what ya think.
When I sat down to reflect on some of my favorite teachers, I began to think about what criterion I should be using to minimalize the list. Little did I realize the effect it was going to have on my list. As a result, I couldn’t think of any. Sure, there are bits and pieces picked from a few, mostly disciplinary lessons learned but nothing that leaves that resounding admiration that most carry forward into their everyday lives.
As a younger child, I was often disruptive in class. My jester attitude tended to prevail against the lesson plans for the day. As I reflect on it, my annoying antics in those years were due to boredom. The redundancy of subject matter failed to hold my attention for long, and my teachers’ tendency to just push me along until the year was over seemed to only exacerbate the problem. At that point, I was someone else’s problem. Despite high scores on final grade testing year after year I was pushed on to the next standard classroom and left only with my own devices to keep my boredom at bay.
During the transition to high school age, the witty banter and humor faded as the home life structure dissipated, ultimately resulting in changing of schools. Working age also interrupted the willingness to make greater attempts for more than standard classes. While the new educators seemed more engaged, outside circumstances continued to prevail. Sleep was the new obstacle. Working two jobs that included a graveyard shift made for my complete silence in class with exception of occasional snoring. Still no inquiry from staff, no plan to focus on education was devised. This continued for the duration of my high school experience. Achieving high marks on all testing, including end of curriculum tests, was my only savior for passing classes considering the homework assignments were rarely completed due to my work schedule. Participation in classroom exercises was also minimal mainly because I needed to be awake for them. In retrospect, there was little or no extra interest in pushing me further than graduation.
For someone to show just that little extra attention, to inquire into my life, to take the extra time to push me towards excellence may have been that extra step to change the trajectory of a smart, capable student to higher learning and could have given me the push to achieve the career interests I had early on.
In “Unforgettable Miss Bessie” Carl T. Rowan recounts a time when the author is getting picked on for having very little and his teacher saying to him “Carl, never fret about what you don’t have. Just make the most of what you do have—a brain.” Urging him to not waste a gift given in a time for him that gave little to celebrate. The extra push gave him the inspiration to go further academically than anyone in his family. While I have little to relate to the circumstances the author went through, I can understand the potential he had as a student. As I reread “Unforgettable Miss Bessie” and “My Favorite Teacher” I noticed the common feeling I believe would have helped me was their teachers “…inspiration, prodding, anger, cajoling, and almost osmotic infusion of learning…” which led them to strive further and push harder to achieve more in their own lives.
During a conversation over the summer with a friend of mine fresh out of college with a teaching degree, she expressed concerned she wasn’t going to find a job with two weeks of summer left, I recall a statement she made that echoed in my head as something I hadn’t been graced with by an educator. She said “I got this degree to make a difference in a child’s life. I don’t need the easy cases, I will take the kids that have been overlooked, I want to help the kids no one else seems to. Why won’t anybody give me a job?” That willingness to delve into a child’s life no matter the circumstance, I believe will make her that teacher that many students will remember into their later years. The examples of that are already being shown, as she took a position in an area that hundreds of kids are being pushed along to the next grade regardless of comprehension, being failed by the previous educators entrusted to develop them. The daily stories of excitement, triumph, and at times heartbreak that have become part of our daily conversation give me hope that she will be the one that finds a student like I was and will push them further. She [will be] a woman of clarity in an age of uncertainty. (104)
While I may not relate to having favored one particular teacher, I can certainly ascertain what some of the hallmarks may be of an impactful teacher. I can continue to listen to the stories of a friend. I can take notice of the people out in the world that see someone struggle and offer a hand instead of walking away. I can learn from my own mistakes and take the time to offer advice to another struggling person or teen. Sometimes all it takes is that one teacher that stays persistent, learns the obstacles you face, pushes you to be better and gives you the tools and encouragement to set the tone for your life.