Last week (May 2nd-6th) was National Teacher Appreciation Week. I don’t know about you, but when I think back to the teachers I’ve had, I feel blessed. In all honesty, I can only remember one teacher who really should have chosen a different profession—the rest were quite wonderful. Of course, there were a few who really excelled and even all these years later, I smile when I think of those two.
When I found out that I had been assigned to Mr. Morris’ 6th grade class, I wasn’t happy. There were three 6th grade teachers that year, and both of the others were young, hip, and fun. Mr. Morris was short, extremely overweight, and wore the worst toupee I’d ever seen.
On the first day of class, Mr. Morris wrote the following questions across the top of the chalkboard:
- Where are you going?
- How will you get there?
- How will you know you’ve arrived?
The questions remained there all throughout the year, and on occasion, he would call on someone in the class to answer them. There were some of the answers you’d expect from twelve-year-old kids. Smart-ass boys would say things like, “The bathroom. I’ll walk down the hall and turn right. I’ll see toilets.”
Mr. Morris never once told anyone that their answers were wrong, but he encouraged us to dig deep. Even at that age, he wanted us to live mindfully. I grew to admire him enormously.
On the last day of school, I stayed for a few minutes after all of the other kids had gone. I asked Mr. Morris how he would answer his own questions. He smiled and told me that he had been asking himself the questions all throughout his life and that his answers had changed many times. “Right now, Beth,” he said, “the answer to the last question would be that I would have a student who gave my questions genuine thought and who I’ve clearly reached. And you just provided me with that.”
I’m so glad I didn’t get one of the cute teachers.
I met my other favorite teacher in my freshman year of high school. I had pretty much always been a no-effort straight-A student, but the first essay I wrote in Mr. Moonier’s freshman English class came back to me with a big red "C" at the top of it. Sure that it was a mistake (or a joke), I approached the teacher, who assured me that it was the grade I'd earned.
He told me that he'd seen my transcript and knew that I'd just sort of been phoning it in. He said that the paper might have earned an A for another student, but since he knew full well that I hadn't really put much effort into it, he thought a C was perfectly fair. He added that if I wanted an A in his class, I'd have to earn it.
I was furious.
I worked harder in that class than I ever had before, and I learned a lot--both academically and more importantly, I realized that it wasn't okay to just slide. I earned that A--the first one that I'd ever felt really great about--and then over the next few years, I used many of my electives to take every single class that he taught.
Those men embodied all that teachers should be. Lucky me.
Check this out…definitely worth the few minutes it takes.
You wouldn’t like it if someone stole your words, so please don’t steal the work of photographers and graphic artists to provide images for your blog. Today’s image courtesy of Morgue File, which offers lots of wonderful, free images for public use.