Flashback Friday: Teachers

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site.

In light of Teacher’s Appreciation Week, Tell us about the teachers from your school days. Who were your favorites? Why did you like them? How did they influence your life, your occupation, or another aspect? Have you ever gone back & seen or contacted a favorite teacher to express your appreciation? Do you still keep up with any of your teachers? Was Teacher Appreciation Day/Week celebrated when you were in school? (Just share about favorites this week; we’ll visit the not-so-stellar teacher memories another day!)

Remember, the above are just suggestions to get you going. Post your flashback Friday and go to Linda’s to link up.

I remember loving my very first teacher in first and second grade (kindergarten wasn’t required then, and in this school, first and second grade was combined), and wanting to be a teacher because of her influence. Oddly, though, my only specific memories of her are unpleasant ones. For some reason, when the second-graders were learning cursive writing, I really wanted to learn it, too, so I was practicing their lesson while the teacher worked with them. I don’t remember what the first-graders were supposed to be working on at the moment, but as Mrs. Murphy walked by my desk, she saw me trying cursive, and severely scolded me. I can understand being in trouble for not working on whatever I as supposed to, and I can understand her wanting me to wait until instructed so as not to form bad habits, but I felt she could have handled it much more gently and positively, even encouraging my wanting to expand my knowledge and experience while letting me know there were some things I wasn’t quite ready for yet. I jokingly claim my bad handwriting is due to early traumatization. 🙂

I do remember something about each of my elementary teachers, but overall my memories are pretty hazy — that was a long time, after all. 🙂 But I do remember my fourth grade teacher coming into our fifth grade classroom the following year to let us know she was getting married. I thought it was neat she would want to share that with us. I remember my fifth grade teacher drawing a portrait if each of us and hanging them all around the room until the end of the year, when she sent them home with us. I have no idea if that might still be in my mom’s attic somewhere — something to look for some day, I guess. I do remember that teacher saying something at one point indicating she was a Christian, which I thought was neat. My sixth grade teacher wrote and produced a school play: in fact, she published a book of school plays that year, and one day in class we got to watch a local news or talk show where she was being interviewed about it.

Junior high is a blur. I went to two different schools for seventh and eight grades. Eighth grade was about the worst year of my school experience, but not in relations to teachers. I can’t remember any teacher there, good or bad.

I was in a public high school in ninth and tenth grades and have some vague memories of a few teachers there. Probably the best teacher was the science teacher, though science wasn’t my favorite class, and though I don’t think she was generally popular as a teacher. But she laid things out pretty systematically and evidently explained things in a way that I grasped. At one point we were supposed to make a poster on some aspect of science (with our own writing, art work, painting or coloring, etc. — no cutting and pasting neat stuff from magazines, and there were no computers then to print neat stuff from). I was taking great time to measure and make sure everything was straight and my title centered, etc., and was a little dismayed that a more artistic classmate was whipping hers together not only quickly but beautifully. But as the teacher walked around the room, observing, she stopped and pointed to my work as an example of carefulness and thinking and planning before executing, and she admonished the others not to rush through it. That made me feel better. 🙂

I transferred to a Christian school before my junior year, and, again, have hazy memories of many teachers, but probably my favorite was my pastor. I believe he taught Bible classes as well as a few others, one of which was Creation vs. Evolution. I remember beforehand thinking that as long as I believe God created the world, why did I really need to even think much about evolution? But that class was valuable. I had never thought before that if the first two chapters of Genesis weren’t true, then all the rest of the Bible was questionable as well, so it was important, indeed, and as he laid out the various arguments for and against each, it just all became so clear, I didn’t know why anyone had trouble seeing it. He was a born teacher, a very gentle man, full of good humor.

I have more favorite teachers from college, probably because that’s not quite as far back in memory. My freshman year I had a History of Civilization class that was the first history class I ever liked, due to the teacher, but unfortunately the last history class I ever had. If I could have been a professional student, I would have loved to have taken more, especially under that teacher. I also loved my Literary Criticism teacher from my junior year. I believe that was the only class I had with him. I got really mad when I heard a guy in my class describe the teacher as boring! He was not a dynamic speaker, he didn’t move around a lot, but he was brilliant, and if you listened (and liked literature), you felt like you were sitting under a fountain of knowledge and wisdom. One of the most valuable of his lectures dealt with objectionable elements in literature. I probably still have the notes for that somewhere, but they’re probably in another box in the attic…

As I have thought back through these teachers. I tried to think what made them favorites. I think one key was that they knew and loved their subject: it wasn’t stake to them, and though they might teach the same things every year, they enjoyed teaching them to new people. They also were authoritative without being authoritarian….there’s a difference. They taught the student rather than just getting through the material. And they were reasonable in every area — discipline, class rules, homework demands, etc.

I don’t remember ever going back to thank any of them. The only ones I kept up with were the ones I went to church with, though alumni publications yielded general news. I had never heard of Teacher Appreciation week until this week, but it was common to give a thank you gift to teachers at the end of the year, especially in elementary school.

Teachers don’t have it easy! Especially these days. One of my favorite pieces about teachers is What Does a Teacher Make?

6 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Teachers

  1. Wonderful that you have so many memories.

    High School was the worst…teenage angst, so glad we are all past that drama!

    Blessing and thanks for sharing.

  2. I enjoyed this post too. My junior high is a blur as well…

    Funny that your only memories of a favorite teacher are negative! If only we could control our memories…

  3. You sure do have a good memory of your teachers. I find it intriguing that your memory of your favorite teacher is negative. I think that would be mine as well. She made me work harder 🙂 Have a great weekend 🙂

  4. I love that, “What does a teacher make,” piece. And teachers who teach children/people, not subjects, are the best teachers of all.

  5. I enjoyed your post and all the comments!
    I would have liked that literature class & teacher as well.
    Also I agree that humor is an important component of good teaching.

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