Friday, December 9, 2011

Who Was Your Favorite Teacher?

Picture that kid, sitting in class.  The one who is either sleeping or constantly making inappropriate comments.  The one walking around the halls like they are "too cool for school" and looking for a fight.  What's he wearing?  (Come on now, you know you pictured a boy.)  How many times have you written him up?  How many times have you called home with no results?  What does he smell like?  What does he like to do during his free time?  Wait, what do you mean you don't know what he likes to do?  Is that because we all know this is the kid we are going to see on the news someday?  Is that why you haven't even tried to get to know him?

Chapter 2 of Adolescent Literacy, titled "Flying Blind" is written by novelist Chris Crutcher and should be read by every teacher at the beginning and end of everyday. In his chapter, he reminds us who is in our classrooms and what they bring with them. He states, "Favorite teachers save lives."

I have to say, from personal experience, this is true. I had a few teachers in my life who, for no other reason, were my favorites because of a look, or a well wish about my personal life. The ones that proved that they SAW me and knew I needed a nudge or a reassurance are the ones I remember. I remember them more than the grades I got or the things I learned. I also have a life lasting love for those subjects and a greater confidence in my abilities in those classes. How many English teachers can say they LOVE chemistry? I can, all because of Mr. Wilson. He just knew when I wasn't OK and his guitar playing while we worked made it better every time. I'm sure it wasn't all for me, but he had a way of making sure he checked in on you when your body language suggested you were not OK.

He is just one of many that I learned from and try to emulate as I teach in my room. In years past it has been successful...this year, my focus was wrong. This year, my focus was on school (Masters program) and data. It shows in the motivation and relationships in the classroom. It hurts. I find myself wanting to loop, just so I get the chance to "get it right" and make a positive impact in my kids. They deserve better than they got from me this year. Chris Crutcher's article will be read many times by me.

This book seems to be a must read for every teacher, regardless of the content you teach. It reminds you that the kids are the puzzle, not the GLE's and the best way to get the test scores you want.

Who were your favorite teachers and why?

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