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Reflecting on Teachers that Shaped Our Lives: The Good, the Bad, and the Indifferent.

tree depicting the impact of a teacher

Teaching has always been in my blood. My mom was an amazingly talented music teacher and always had a way of connecting with students on a level that made them feel valued, cared about, and "seen". I had her as a teacher (no I did not have to call her Mrs. Korb 😄) and now she is teaching my children piano and it's like nothing has changed. Deep down, it is her ability to empathize and relate to students that is such a hard concept to teach new or veteran teachers. I always thought that good teachers were born and not made, but like any skill it too can be cultivated.

I still live close to my childhood home and a few times a year while I am out, I will have an interaction with someone that goes something like this:

Person: "Are you related to Mrs. Korb the music teacher?"
Me: "Yes, that's my mom!"
Person: "Please tell her that [insert former student name here] says 'Hi' and that she was my favorite teacher of all time."

Through our exchange of laughter about phrases my mom would use in class or emotional memories charged with life-changing advice a common question would always come to mind.

What makes a great teacher great?

Life is like a journey on a vast, intricate map where each of us follows a different route. Our paths are shaped by our experiences, the people we meet, and the lessons we learn along the way. In this journey, teachers play a crucial role, not just in educating us, but in influencing our perception of the world.

Everyone's experience of life is unique. This diversity in perspective is particularly evident in our school years. How we view our teachers and recall our time in the classroom is deeply personal. One student's favorite teacher might be another's least favorite, highlighting the subjective nature of our experiences.

Unique perspectives of students

I remember a math teacher who recognized my ability to explain complex problems, making a lasting impression. In contrast, a social studies teacher once dampened my enthusiasm for inquiry. Then there was my physics teacher, whose love for the subject was contagious, inspiring a lifelong interest in learning.

These varied experiences make us think about the attributes of memorable teachers.

Who are the educators that stick in our minds, and why?

What Makes a Teacher Memorable?

Take a minute to think about the teachers who positively influenced you. Maybe they encouraged a passion or helped you see a strength you didn't know you had. Then, spare a thought for those who might not have been as supportive. These experiences, both good and bad, shape us.

It's also important to consider those teachers who didn't stand out much. They might not have made a dramatic impact, but their contribution to our educational journey still matters.

Our education is shaped by all kinds of teachers: the inspiring, the challenging, and the ones in between. Each one plays a role in our learning and growth, even if their influence isn't immediately apparent.

What sets apart a teacher who leaves a positive, lasting impression from one who doesn’t? Is it their teaching strategies, their attitude, or something else?

As we think back on our school days, let's try to pinpoint what made certain teachers stand out. Reflect on the characteristics of both positive and negative educational experiences. What did your favorite teachers do that made them so memorable?

Try this Exercise:

Positive Memories: Think about your favorite teachers. What qualities did they have that made them special?

Challenges Faced: Recall the tough teachers. What made those experiences difficult?

The Unnoticed: Consider the teachers you don’t often remember. What was it about their teaching that made them blend into the background?

Drawing Comparisons: How do the qualities of your favorite and least favorite teachers differ?

Looking Ahead: Based on these reflections, what qualities would you like to see in teachers today?

different realities

The Everyday Impact of Intentional Teaching Strategies

Our school experiences, shaped by various teachers, influence us in ways we might not even realize. As we look back, we can appreciate the impact each teacher had on our lives. Whether you're still in school, long past it, or even a teacher yourself, understanding the power of these influences can help us appreciate the role educators play in shaping our paths through life. Just like my mom left an indelible mark on the lives of so many former students, we too can find ways to make the little moments count and #bethecause of a child's success and happiness.

How do you want to be remembered?


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