What Was Your Best Teacher Ever? Worse Teacher Ever?

Who was your best teacher ever? Does a name come flying to your lips? How about your worse teacher? Can you name him or her? I can.

In sixth grade, during the 50s, I had Mr. Henry Humdrum. (Name changed to protect the guilty.) Since he was my first male teacher, I eagerly looked forward to school. By being the same gender we would automatically be kindred spirits. Wrong! Sitting in his class that first day, I felt depressed. Mr. Humdrum was bald, portly, and strict. Why couldn't I catch a break? And how was I to know that because of him I would become a skillful teacher? I know it sounds crazy, yet it's absolutely true.

Mr. Humdrum's wardrobe was dull, and he never told amusing stories. There were no snacks, visual aids, slides, hands-on-science, learning centers, guest speakers or Snow Days.

Yes, I was struggling and bored, but he didn't seem to notice. There was nothing super about sixth grade. I daydreamed about the Man of Steel-Superman rescuing me.

One day Mr. Humdrum gave me the honor of washing out a large vase. This special privilege meant a break from routine tasks. After I rinsed out the partially wet vase, it slipped out of my hands and exploded in the hallway, shattering into a thousand pieces. As I trudged back to the classroom, I expected to see everyone hiding under his or her desk.

Mr. Humdrum met me at the door, but he didn't blast me. There were no angry words. He had a plan up his sleeve. To pay for the shattered vase, Mr. Humdrum imposed fines on us if we didn't live up to his sixth grade code. Each day we had to have a handkerchief, wear shined shoes and be prepared with our supplies. The fines were less than a nickel, yet your tab could accumulate. I lived in mortal fear that my allowance might be garnished.

I felt that anybody could replace Mr. Humdrum. Even as a college student, my dislike for his teaching performance remained. While I was in college, my younger brother, Tony, told me that Mr. Humdrum wanted to see me. I wondered if I still owed money for the vase. Maybe he wondered why I wanted to be a teacher. I could never ever tell him the reason.

I thought that I could be a "better teacher" than he was. For the wrong reasons, he was my inspiration, and I aimed at being a dynamic teacher. While traveling home by train from college for Christmas vacation a few days before the public schools let out, I accidentally met him on the same train. He was on the way to school, and I was almost home from my nine hour trip.

The extra years hadn't been kind. He was rounder and shorter. Riding trains all night, I wasn't in the mood for idle conversation or talk of vases. He got right to the heart of matters. He said, "Joe, I hope that you find teaching as fulfilling as I have over the years. Teaching is like throwing a rock into a pond, you never know where your ripples of influence stop."

Suddenly, his voice sounded apologetic. "With your class I had to be rather strict. You can always loosen up later." He said smiling, "I remember you well." I said to myself: Here comes the part about the vase. He continued, "The day the vase broke I almost lost my temper, but accidents happen. Nobody is perfect."

I thought to myself: I don't need this. How about telling me something new?

He added, "I always knew that you would make something of yourself. You sat in the front row and absorbed information like a sponge. I had thirty-seven students. I wish that I could have helped you more."

He was right about me sitting up front. I did that in my college too. I wanted to be armed with the best teaching theories and strategies. I hoped to be a better teacher than Mr. Memory Lane.

As a student teacher, I was rated above average, but none my experiences prepared me for my own classroom. That first year I don't think that I earned the respect of my class. I thought that students would treat you the same way you treated them. You respect them, and then they respect you. In my class, "lavatory vacation" was popular to play. Some students would disappear into the bathroom almost forever. I didn't realize how important it was to be the Lavatory Police. I tried to be a friend first, and teacher second. Mistake!

My second year was much better. I found myself being stricter, less gullible, and monitoring the bathroom traffic better. Instead of having my nose buried in teaching manuals, I discouraged paper airplanes before they became epidemic. Why was I more effective?

My transformation started when I recalled the many things Mr. Humdrum did right as a teacher. Paper airplanes were non-existent. He always had his act together, never yelled much. His students were kind to each other. Spitballs weren't sent into orbit. We took field trips into New York City and saw magnificent images of dinosaur bones and knights in shiny armor.

Yes, Mr. Humdrum was humanistic and caring. As a teacher, I started to realize how good he was. His excellent lessons had registered with me in subtle ways, when I recalled them. When Jason cracked our fish tank, and pebbles, water, and tropical fish came cascading out, I didn't get angry. I said, "Accidents happen. Nobody is perfect. I never cry over spilt fish."

In my second year of teaching, I caught some humility and a better outlook. With challenging situations, I started asking myself, "How would Mr. Humdrum handle this?" Mr. Humdrum proved how powerful a teacher's influence can be. He rescued my teaching career and, finally, was my best teacher ever.

Article Source: Joe Sottile


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  2. Nice Blogging. We expect Male Teacher in Primary School.But why they are not Interested to do Primary School Job? I Think Low Salary. Are you agree with me?