Friday, May 12, 2017


Here's another one I did for the magazine. I changed some of the original "we"s to "I"s, and adjusted it here and there to use it for this posting. I have a few teachers I remember for their quirky personalities alone, but there are three I remember who really made lasting memories of learning something useful. Teacher Appreciation Day falls every May. I did once have the opportunity to thank one of my teachers years after I left his classroom, and I made sure to let him know how much I appreciated his teaching.

When casually questioned about the teachers he remembered and what made them good teachers, my husband immediately said “Mrs. Cohen with the great legs – drove all the boys crazy – not particularly good looking, but great legs.” Well, although it’s a great memory, that’s not really the answer we were aiming for.

The teachers we remember fall into two categories. On one hand, there are those who taught our least favorite subjects, who bored us to tears and put us to sleep as they droned on and on, and whose classes and course content we only dimly remember. On the other, there are the ones who really taught us something and made a difference, the ones whose classes we looked forward to, and whose names, even some of their favorite sayings, we remember today.

My Latin teacher was always looking for "Volunteers: you, you, and you!"

Unless a subject was really right up our alley or the teacher made it interesting to us, the courses we had to take to complete graduation requirements or to fill in a class schedule are usually the ones we least remember. It is no surprise that we wouldn’t remember the teacher or a bit of the Calculus we had to take in order to fulfill the state mathematics requirement for a Teacher’s Certificate, especially when the subject we were going to teach was English.

It’s no surprise we remember the college prof who sprang those quickie quizzes on us to test whether we were “getting” it or not. It’s no surprise that I remember the high school Biology teacher who taught me the way to remember the taxonomic ranks: kingdom, phylum, class order, family, genus, species - King Philip Came Over For Grandfather’s Spectacles – and made dissecting a frog fascinating, not icky.

It’s no surprise that we remember the English teacher who made poetry interesting or enlivened a Shakespeare play for us. It’s no surprise that we remember the teacher who enlivened dry History’s dates and battles and personalities, by relating them to the Arts and Sciences what else was happening in the rest of the world. We remember the teacher who was also a team coach and never brought our classroom triumphs or failings on to the playing field or court. We remember the teacher who set us on the road to the profession we followed, or the pastimes we love to this day.

Don’t you sometimes think that you should have thanked those great teachers for what they gave to you? If nothing else, they gave you some lasting memories.

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