I asked you if you thought I’d be a good teacher prior to graduating high school. You hid any hesitation you might have had, and affirmed sincere confidence in my teaching potential. This is one of the most specific moments, one fixed point in time, that changed my life completely. You even went as far as to give me your business card so I could one day request you as my mentor teacher. I planned on taking you up on the offer, until two years ago. I paid Churchill a visit and found that you moved on. I don’t think you know that.
I think that I originally wanted to be a teacher because you made it look like something I’d enjoy. The way you spoke so candidly about social studies made me believe that I could have a career in which people were forced to listen to me rant about history. In my 10th grade mind, this made teaching my dream job. Obviously I know now the errors in this assumption, but seeing my teacher’s daily cognitive interaction with content material allowed me to consider a career in history. Until I saw you teach, history was a subject I wanted to study but wouldn’t know how to use.
You didn’t make teaching look easy. In fact, you made me realize how stimulating of a career teaching would be; I need that kind of stress to feel successful. It’s not that you let your stress interfere (or publicized it at all), but I knew because of how hard my best friend Myke pushed you. You pushed back in a very constructive way. You firmly let him know that you were not going to let him opt out, you knew he could do better. This is the same approach I take when students complain that the work is too hard. It makes your brain tired, I tell them, because you’re using it. There is no growth if you don’t have to try.
There are teaching practices that I’ve only ever seen you use, which I put to use in my own classroom. For example, the final question on tests were usually instructions for drawing something absurd on the back. As a student I thought you did this provide something fun afterward, but I now think of it as a genius way to keep students who finish early from distracting others. I have yet to do this myself, but I plan on trying it with a test my students have this Friday.
You should also know that my supervisor and mentor teachers have complimented me several times on my sincere and candid nature in the classroom. Every question answered is done honestly, and with a tone that implies mutual respect. I use the same tone of voice when collaborating with students that I would when collaborating with peers. I have a tone of authority, but the authority comes from content knowledge, which can be passed on to students. My hope is that my students gain confidence from their own intelligence. This tone and its implicit agenda comes directly from you and the way you interacted with me. My opinion and my knowledge was viewed as valuable in your classroom, and so I assigned value and confidence to my own intelligence.
Thank you so much for being such a positive influence and role model for me. Even though I could point to my sister, my mother, my brother-in-law as teachers that influenced me, none of them effected me quite the way you did. I am a better teacher now because I sat in your classroom eight years ago.
I could never thank you enough.
Example: Just wrote a lesson plan and a quiz on my phone (in microsoft word), on public transportation.