In Others’ Words: Teachers

I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework.  ~Lily Tomlin  as “Edith Ann” (1939), actress

I registered my caboose kiddo for school this week. We bought school supplies weeks ago. Today she went with her BFF and got locker supplies. Middle school, here they come!

Funny, I never bought locker supplies when I was in school. We just had a locker. Period. The only thing I ever put in my locker was my books … and my coat … and my lunch. Nowadays you can decorate your locker with all things magnetic: fancy paper, mirrors, message boards. There are hanging fabric shelves and metal shelves and who knows what else. A mom can bust her school buying budget on her kid’s locker.

But I digress — badly.

This post is about teachers because, while buying all the neat-o supplies is fun, the teachers are the greater influence in my daughter’s life. I’ve given these other adults permission to spend time with my daughter — to teach her — to affect who she is.

The teachers I appreciate the most? The ones who step out from behind the books and the tests and the memorize-this-don’t-forget-that-make-sure-you-meet-the-deadline rigmarole and develop a relationship with their students. The ones who go past reading, writing and ‘rithmetic  and challenge you to think about more.

In Your Words: What teacher gave you something to think about besides homework? What was it?


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  1. August 3, 2012, 4:55 am   /  Reply

    I still remember my 1st. grade teacher. Mrs. Hicks. You have to understand that in 1960, in New Jersey, we weren’t as enlightened then as now. I’d never had any dealings with such a woman as she. I can remember my parents discussing the fact that, maybe, they should try and get another teacher, maybe enroll me in a different school district. The principle asked my parents to give this woman a chance. If it didn’t work out, they’d talk about some options. (It’s amazing what those little ears hear when you think they aren’t paying attention.) Mrs. Hicks taught with a grace I still remember. She taught me to read, still my favorite thing, and on a level I wasn’t even aware of, she taught me tolerance. What was different about Mrs. Hicks? She was black. I loved her!

  2. August 3, 2012, 5:44 am   /  Reply

    My pre-calc teacher my junior year of high school. Oh, how I hated the subject. But his constant stream of encouragement, funny stories, and just general happiness always had me walking away from his class with a smile on my face–even if I wanted to burn my textbook. 🙂 He gave me a desire to encourage others the same way he encouraged me.

  3. August 3, 2012, 7:18 am   /  Reply

    My fifth grade teacher talked about her son who was killed in World War II one day. She talked about what honor and sacrifice was all about. She made me a better person that day, and I still blink by tears when I think of her.

  4. August 3, 2012, 7:27 am   /  Reply

    I had so many awesome teachers, but my creative writing teacher in high school made me look at the world differently. And that was what I needed. It challenged me. Made me better somehow.

  5. Jeanne
    August 3, 2012, 7:58 am   /  Reply

    Love this post, Beth, perhaps especially because I had the privilege of teaching students for a few years before I married.

    I had a physchology teacher in high school who was just plain fun. He gave me a love for learning about human nature and share his passion for people in his teaching. My sixth grade teacher affirmed the students. He encouraged an already blossoming love for reading by letting us fill out footprints to put on the ceiling. He made learning fun, and helped give this struggling girl confidence.

  6. August 3, 2012, 7:59 am   /  Reply

    I had so many favorite teachers, it’s difficult to name just one. Many teachers challenged me to do more, pushed me to go further and encouraged me to try. Thankfully, I have met those teachers since I was 5 and even now as I’ve returned for community college classes. (I’ve noticed a lot of locker “things” in my search for school supplies. Geez.)

  7. August 3, 2012, 9:06 am   /  Reply

    My algebra teacher in high school told me, “Don’t make it harder than it is.” I’ve carried that everywhere and it applies in every situation. Not that I always manage it, but I’m so thankful for that teacher!

    I’m at the stage where I have to decide if I’m going to enroll my son in kindergarten or home school. I appreciated what you said about giving permission to those people to spend time with your daughter and have an impact on who she becomes. Besides loving school myself and wanting to re-learn things with my son, I struggle with letting others have such an impact on his development. Silly, I know! Thanks for this post, Beth. It’s encouraging. 🙂

  8. August 3, 2012, 10:08 am   /  Reply

    I caught my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Daniel Levine, studying me one day while I thumbed through a row of dusty books in our classroom library. I was shy, poor, and self conscious, so it was an awkward moment for me. He straightened to his fullest heighth, crossed his arms and said in all seriousness, “You know… can be anything you want to be. You’re bright, your smart, and you’re funny.” No one had ever said that to me before. Winning my confidence, I squirmed and told him that I wanted to be a writer someday. He displayed the boldest smile, and rocking back on his heels he told me, “You’ll be a great writer!” I promised him that I would dedicate my first book to him. He told me that he looked forward to it. Just like that, in an instant my dream came to the surface. No one had ever asked me about my dreams, encouraged me to live above poverty, shame, and dead end roads. I didn’t know what they were, until that moment. I have yet to finish that book… and keep my promise to Mr. Levine. Thank you for this post today. It has boosted my desire to reach that goal, and your thoughts this morning let me spend some time in memories with the one person who saw my potential, believed in me and fostered it. 🙂

  9. August 3, 2012, 11:55 am   /  Reply

    I loved shopping for school supplies. Good thing there were no goodies for lockers – I would have needed a loan. God bless our teachers. They are a special group. Thanks for good memories, Beth.

  10. August 3, 2012, 1:37 pm   /  Reply

    My senior English Literature teacher went beyond the books. Even though we read Shakespeare, Chaucer and other things nonsensical to a teenager, she possessed the innate ability of placing us inside the stories. Visualize the characters. Imagine the era and its hardships. And appreciate the beauty and passion of the written word. She made a profound impact on me as a writer, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I’m so thankful for teachers who see students, not just lesson plans.

  11. August 4, 2012, 7:36 am   /  Reply

    I had many great teachers but my 9th grade English teacher changed my world, taught creative writing, taught us all to stand back and view beauty/issues from several angles to see more than one option–and exuded encouragement and beauty. She stamped and improved everyone who knew her for the better.

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