Do you have a favorite teacher from your past? Since I’ve been around for a while, I’ve had and worked with a number of teachers. You can spot the dedicated ones a mile away. They’re the ones who care about their students and want to help them understand and learn things that will motivate them to want to learn more. They are motivators, encouragers, caretakers, nose wipers, those who get the kids into their boots so they can be warm during recess.
I’ve had a number of memorable teachers over time. When chalk boards and erasers were in use, there was the second grade teacher who always wore black. She didn’t need an eraser. As she went across the board with new information, she quickly eliminated what was previously written. It was obvious when she turned around. There was the 8th grade English teacher that assigned us to write a short play. I proceeded to write my first full length play, with a cast of thousands, music and dancing, elaborate costumes and a total of three acts. I was so excited about the assignment and expected a grade that would surely outshine anyone else. Instead I was told that the play was too long, had too many characters and could never be produced on the school’s stage. I was crushed and didn’t write another play until I was in my 40s.
There was the American History teacher who re-enacted the Civil War on the top of his desk. His horned rimmed glasses surrounded eyes that became those of an enraged general leading a charge. He was the one who should’ve served towels with his classes. I sat in the front row and the recipient of a spray of saliva which he delivered along with his lectures. There were many teachers that I admired, many that had apparent problems outside the classroom and those who I truly learned from. That last group also tended to seem interested in me rather than their delivery. They were the ones who saw something in me that I didn’t yet know existed.
When I returned to college at the age of 44, to take as many theatre classes as I could, I met a professor who inspired and taught with zeal and excitement, making the experience more than I could ever hope for. He schooled me in all the technical aspects of acting, directing, teaching and so much more – tools that I would continue to use throughout the rest of my working life.
Today teachers have many challenges. The technology they use now is enough to discourage most older women and men from teaching. With the recent pandemic, they had to learn a whole new way of relating to students on line. They had to change their technique along with adapting to new methods. Over the past 25 years or so, they’ve had to deal with parents who have not instilled the basic courtesy of respect for those in authority. They’ve also had to deal with students that don’t think they need to be educated. There is no method of discipline a teacher is able to administer and kids have kind of run the system themselves at times. I know there are parents out there that still teach their kids to be responsible for their actions, but the trend seems to be faltering.
When we think about past teachers, let’s remember that they have little time off. Once school ends for the year, they may get in a week or two of vacation. By July, they’re already thinking about their coming school year and are usually back in the classroom by the beginning of August. Their days don’t end with the final bell. They need to grade papers, read essays, prepare for the next day’s classes and have little time for themselves. They must stay true to curriculum. They follow certain protocols. They continue their own education to improve or grow their own knowledge. They attend meetings, counsel students, talk to parents and you might say their job is thankless for the most part – except for that one student they may touch during their career. That teacher is the one that will be remembered with positive vibes, when they have children of their own.
Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”