I have had quite a few teachers during my educational career. I attended five different elementary schools, two junior highs, and one high school. Of all of those teachers, I think my favorites were those who taught my least favorite subjects. I always dreaded going to a new math or science class, because those were my least favorite subjects. Strangely enough, these teachers were, and still are my favorites. These are the teachers that I have befriended on Facebook and the teachers that I ask about.
When I think about math classes, I cringe. Although I am able to do the work, I absolutely hate doing it. In these classes I was fortunate to have teachers like Mrs. Southerland, Mrs. Brauer, and Mrs. Ellis. All three of the ladies were my junior high math teachers.
Right behind math, science is dead last on my list of favorite courses., One of my top five favorite teachers, Mrs. Austin, happens to be a science teacher. Even teachers that most students did not like, I did. Teachers like Mr. Pitchlynn and even Ms. Scott who had that weird ponytail thing sticking out of the side of her otherwise shaved head. Even she grew to become a teacher a appreciated and liked.
Not one of the teachers mentioned above were lenient. Their classes were not blow off classes. We had homework in those classes almost everyday. So what makes them my absolute favorites? What makes a good teacher?
Looking back, as a student, I knew that each of the teachers mentioned above cared. They cared about what they were teaching. They even cared about me! They wanted me to learn the material. Each of them seemed like real people. They got frustrated at times (it was in these classes that people got into the most trouble for talking, etc.) but they never showed any signs of defeat. They never just gave up on us. They would continue to focus on something until the class got it. There was no, “Sorry y’all don’t get it, but we’re moving on.”
In addition to caring, they were genuine. I believed that when I talked with one of those teachers, I was talking to a person rather than a teacher. There was no attitude of superiority or anything like that. When they asked me how my weekend went, I believe they really wanted to know. When they signed my year book, I believe they were 100% sincere in their comments. Mrs. Ellis, in addition to being my 9th grade math teacher, was also my 9th grade Sunday School teacher. In fact, she was a big part of why my family visited Southern Hills.
If any one of these teachers hated their jobs and us students, they did a great job of hiding it. I felt like they enjoyed their jobs, were passionate about their jobs, and they wanted us students to be successful in whatever it is that we chose to do.
When I started college courses at o-triple-c this passion became much more of a factor in determining whether or not a teacher was good, in my opinion at least. I think of teachers like Punches and Ludlow. Again, these were not easy professors. We had to do more than our fair share of reading and studying in these classes. Concerning Professor Ludlow, we probably disagreed on 90% of the things that we talked about in his Sociology courses, but I still like him, value him, and appreciate him. I like him because there was no doubt in my mind that Ludlow believed the stuff he was teaching. He believed the content mattered and that if we applied it in someway, we could make a difference.
For me personally, Punches is marked by his wit and his genuineness. Again, we probably did not agree on many things, but he was passionate about what he was teaching. He was thoughtful and precise. He chose his words carefully and was always quick to encourage and build up.
There were not many teachers that I did not like. These teachers, however, are set apart because of the qualities they exemplified. Qualities like kindness, genuineness, patience, humility, encouragement, and passion. Now that I think about it, whether they meant to or not, they were just displaying the fruit of the Spirit. To me, this is what makes a great teacher.