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.