Someone posting a question about teachers on the church discussion board got me really thinking about some of my old teachers. I posted that my most influential teacher was Mr. Baker who was such a die-hard conservative republican that it made me angry. I was a liberal democrat and could not wait to be old enough to vote that way. I thought Kennedy was the best president ever, Lincoln was my next pick-but I overlooked his party. I can remember being so angry after Mr. Baker expressed with conviction that the only thing Kennedy ever did right was get assassinated at the right time. I was angry about that for a long time. Now, as I look at the messes he kept himself and this country in, there is some truth to that statement. Mr. Baker was a tough teacher. I never achieved an A in his class, mostly because I did not like History or World Civ. He did give me the correct interpretation that famous people are just that, people. Their lives were rocked with scandals and relationship problems, they just had to do it in the limelight.
So this of course, leads me to thinking of other teachers in my life that made a big impact on my life. Mr. Woods is the next most influential teacher I had, not because he was the smartest, best teacher-but he taught me that I was worthy of respect. All of his students were called Miss or Mr. whatever just like he was. He said he would treat us with the same respect we gave him. That was huge for a seventh grader. It was also ok for him to call me what he called my sister-brilliant strategy for as many siblings as he saw come through! He was such a nice man and he taught us Health and Science enduring many middle school giggles. We could tell that he was thoroughly embarrassed but he never lost his composure or dignity. I had him as an adviser for Industrial Arts club in high school (He gave me permission to be in the club despite not having a class-too funny-I was even an officer) and he was still the same way. He liked kids, cared about them. He listened. He was honest and quick to offer good sound advice.
Mrs. Watkins was another wonderful teacher. She gave me special permission to take Biology as a freshman (I was supposed to be in ICP-intro to Chemistry and Physics). She fostered a love of Biology in me. She was rather close to retirement and had been teaching the same things for many years. However, she was not stale at all. You could tell she loved it and it was infectious. She also challenged us as a class and planned many fun outings. One of those was going to St. Louis to a Chiropractor school to see a real-life cadaver. Fascinating. We were allowed to cut on it and it was dreadful to see a human in such a state. Harder still to know that this was a "street person" who had no relatives. This allowed him to be donated to science. When I think of the doctors he equipped for service though, I guess it makes for a useful life.
I had some really bad teachers as well. I won't mention their names. Many of my teachers never really cared alot on an individual basis. They sort of had a job to do and they did it. The ones that really were most impactful are the ones who took the time to care. To use teachable moments to develop character. There were a few of those. I was a certifiable teacher's pet so I can't recall ever having a teacher that did not love me. I guess I probably at least liked all of them as well. I am thankful for all of my teachers, good or bad, they taught me alot. One in particular taught me how important self-restraint is as she "lost" herself almost daily in class. One of my good friends told her off for being too emotional. He stared her down and told her he was done with her yelling and crying every day. Miraculously, she never took him to the principal and showed more composure from that day forward. (She was a drama teacher for goodness sake!)
I hope I am a good teacher to my kids. I hope I am a good teacher to the kids I come in contact with. I hope I care just enough and plant seeds that encourage learning. I hope I am an educational "flamethrower" fuleing a love of learning that lasts a lifetime. I plan to be tough and soft all at the same time.