I have had a few wonderful teachers. I was thinking about one a few weeks ago and wrote her a thank you note. It was surprisingly easy to find her on the web and send it to the school where she works. Her name is Sheryl Lloyd. She was my elementary school music teacher. I can still here her voice describing some songs. I will always remember going with her to a jazz club. I can still see her teaching rhythm and hear the sound she makes when she is voicing a drum. It is amazing how strong and impact an inspiring teacher can have.
Mrs. Crie was my 3rd grade teacher. That was a pivotal year for me as we had just moved. New school, new friends...she was fabulous. I can still hear her reading LIttle House on the Prairie. She had the best voice. She was so interesting we all wanted to be good so she could teach.
I was also inspired by my 7th grade algebra teacher. He would make up word problems using our slightly altered names. Our favorite was Miffany Todell. He loved math so much it was intriguing...I couldn't help but look for what there was to love. He made up a series of math problems for us to solve, apply to measurements which would direct us to a certain spot on campus. If we found the right spot, and dug, we found the answers to the math test. He also had this amazing way of making it sound cool to not have been kissed yet, and to wait to date. I don't remember how he did that. Mr. Huyett...what a guy.
My physics teacher was Mr. Harvey. Teaching Physics, the last class of the day, to a bunch of seniors could present a challenge. I don't know of anyone who ever ditched his class. He was fascinating. He loved Physics. He would come in some days and cancel the lecture because he just HAD to share something he just learned. I can still remember one of those spontaneous lectures in my mind. He also had great demonstrations and visuals. I will always remember the endorsement letter her wrote for me. What a guy who took time out for his students.
Not exactly a teacher...but my favorite coach in high school was absolutely Ken Bauman. He loved basketball. He had us diagramming plays and taking the sport seriously. He would get frustrated but had incredible self control. He was such a great example, and so caring. He really got to know us and got us inspired to play because we wanted to play better for him.
After thinking about these teachers it occurred to me...in the course of my public school education I had almost 50 different teachers...and here are 5 that inspired me. I had some other good teachers, and some that were fun...but to me an inspiring teacher is different. An inspiring teacher is passionate about their subject. They are still learning about their subject themselves, because they love it. They share what they learn, because they just can't help it. They inspire me to want to learn on my own. Less than 10% of my teachers fit in that category...
Out of curiosity I polled two message boards...asking how many of their teachers were inspiring. I wasn't implying that the rest of the teachers were bad, but truly inspiring. By far most people replied 3-5 of their teachers were inspiring. Right about what I had and jut under 10 %.. I found this very sad. WHY? Why aren't more teachers inspiring? Is it that they don't get to choose their own curriculum? Is it class size? Is it the principal? Is it how teachers are trained. One person said she didn't think i should expect a majority of teachers to be inspiring...maybe..but not even 15%? One woman (a teacher) said every single one of her teachers was inspiring. She was really a little frustrated with my poll and felt I was attacking teachers. When I asked about her teachers she mentioned things like...oh this teacher had a really pretty bulletin board, this teacher wrote this note to my parents once that made me feel good...ummm perhaps we are inspired by different things.
I can't imagine anything more important in the education of a child, than to have a teacher so excited about learning that they can't help but share. I wonder if it would be different if we changed how we trained teachers. Instead of learning new bulletin board techniques and how to deal with discipline problems; what if we focused on just how fascinating math, English, Reading, Writing, and science can be. What if our teachers left teacher training with a story they can't wait to share about a mathematician, or a science experiment that taught them something new. What if they found a new favorite poem and just couldn't wait to memorize it and recite it for their class. What if they heard a new piece of music, or rediscovered an old artist...how would it change school if our teachers were like that. How can we encourage that?
While you are trying to solve America's education problems, think back on your favorite teachers and write them a note...