Sunday, May 22, 2011

My favorite teacher(s)

            Last Thursday I had lunch with three fifth graders at a nearby elementary school.  One of the boys is my "little brother," and we have lunch together every Thursday but this week we decided to join two of his friends in the lunch room.  The conversation included reasons why the boys sat at one table, girls at another, the unlikely dream of an all boys' class, end of the year grade expectations, the afternoon's music rehearsal, and the subsequent concert that evening. 

            But the conversation that really sparked my interest involved "favorite teachers."  All three boys agreed that a particular third grade teacher was the best in the school.  "Anyone who goes through this school will end up saying she was their best teacher.  And it's always going to be that way," proclaimed one of the three.

            I asked why she was their favorite teacher. 
            "Because she's nice."
            "She makes it fun, so you want to learn."
            "She's not mean.  She never yells."
            "She likes us."

            One of the boys interrupted to say, "See, there she is over there (The favored teacher was lunchroom monitor that day).  See that kid hugging her?  That's the way we all feel.  We like her."

            It made me think of my own favorite teachers growing up (Mrs. Butler, Sr. Veronica Marie, Father Leonard, who all taught English) and my teachers today (Connie Wallace and Joni Martin, both professional musicians) and what they have in common.  I guess for me the important ingredients are skill, patience, an encouraging style, laughter, a love for what they do, and a willingness to share it with others.

            Who were, or are, your favorite teachers and why?  If you are now a teacher, do you find yourself emulating those qualities?  If you'll comment below, I'll summarize the comments and use them to create a survey that we can submit later to a larger audience.  Thanks and have a great week.


  1. I always thought I'd be a teacher, but never got my classroom. It never kept me from teaching, though—from my own three sons, to co-workers on computer software, students on guitar and accordion, and friends who wanted to knit or crochet.

    I think the key quality is to love what you're doing. How can you spark an interest in someone else if you're not enthusiastic yourself? How can you be patient teaching something you don't enjoy? How can you be nice when you're unhappy with what you're doing?

  2. John Paul, here's a total tangent—I'm looking for two old children's books. If anyone knows where I can find "A Mouse To Be Free" by Joyce W. Warren, or "Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet" by Eleanor Cameron, I'm trying to find them for my grandchildren.


  3. Kathleen, I googled them both and found them for sale on Amazon. "Stowaway" is $1.50 new, but "A Mouse to be Free" runs anywhere from $8 something to almost $100 for a used hardcover copy, and 3.39 for a used paperback in "very good" condition.

  4. In HS it was my Physics teacher. Such a science geek, but so much fun, willing to laugh at mistakes.

    College was the creative writing teacher. Man did I idolize him. So stoic and cool, but hip to the core. Don't know if he ever published. Took his class twice.

    Now, life is my greatest teacher. Patient, kind, challenging, always prepared, gives new experiences. Let's me fail, recover, pass, all without judgement, is never late to class, lets me sleep in when I want, never rats on me to my parents but lets them know if I've done well.

  5. My favorite teacher was my first and second grade teacher. She taught me to read. I knew as soon as I first learned to read that I wanted to teach. I thought she was the most wonderful person. She opened up doors of possibility to me that I had never felt before I went to school. I wanted to be that one who taught others how to read, write, and learn.