|Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.5 No.5||May 2008|
|Cover Story by Todd R. Nelson|
|Only a School. Only a Teacher.|
|School is still, at its heart, a dance of men and women of character. A school is its teachers.|
|Harry & Rosemary Wong|
|An Amazing Kindergarten Teacher|
|I use modified modeling to teach my students the correct procedures. Instead of just telling, I act out the wrong way first....|
|»||Promoting Responsibility - Or How Not ToMarvin Marshall|
|»||Differentiated Instruction & Ability GroupingCheryl Sigmon|
|»||The Busy Educator's Monthly FiveMarjan Glavac|
|»||Counting the days yet?Barbara & Sue Gruber|
|»||Problem-Based Learning, Part 3Hal Portner|
|»||Successful TeachersLeah Davies|
|»||'Subprime' Is Voted "Word Of The Year" For 2007|
|»||May 2008 Writing Prompts|
|»||Use Math's Magic to Intrigue Students Solving Linear Equations|
|»||I Choose Teaching - A Meaningful Career|
|»||Teacher Appreciation Day: Not Nearly Enough|
|»||Treating All Students With Dignity|
|»||Two Teachers, Two Philosophies, One Result|
|»||Favorite Teacher Appreciation Activities|
|»||Academic Writing Guidelines|
|»||What is an Effective Teacher?|
|»||Drexel Online Education Program|
|»||Candles of Inspiration: May 2008|
|»||Featured Lessons: May 2008|
|»||Video Bytes: A Hidden Lesson, Baptism By Fire, Mom and more...|
|»||Today Is... Daily Commemoration for May 2008|
|»||Live on Teachers.Net: May 2008|
|»||The Lighter Side of Teaching|
|»||Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes for Teachers|
|»||Is a school only as good as the teachers in it?|
|»||Teachers' Best Teachers|
|»||What Is It About Teaching That Keeps You Going?|
|»||Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers|
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Two Teachers, Two Philosophies, One Result
My best teachers were not just different, they were opposites in life-style, age, gender, philosophy, education, experience, and pedagogy. They had one characteristic in common. Ironically, it’s the same characteristic students have in common: each is unique.
|by Bill Page
Regular contributor to the Gazette
May 1, 2008
Two teachers among all my teachers were so outstanding that they rendered all the rest into a category that can easily be described all together in a single word – forgettable. These two memorable teachers caused my life to come out very differently than it would have without their influence. I still feel genuine affection, gratitude, and warmth decades later.
Teachers do not work with lesson plans, textbooks and materials. They work with what is in their head in relation to what is in the student’s head. Apparently I didn’t have a good “head connection” through my elementary years. I remember the names of only two of the eight teachers I had in eight grades, and nothing worthwhile of the classes.
I invite you to check the archives for two of my articles previously published by the Teachers.Net Gazette, “Teaching is...” and “Teachers Are Individuals Too.”I Know What A Good Teacher Is!
“What are the characteristics of a good teacher?” is still being bantered among educators, researched in colleges, and debated in journals. I know what a good teacher is, even if the experts don’t. Good teachers are the ones who genuinely care about kids. Whether teachers show their caring by a kind of strictness that some kids call “mean,” whether teachers show concern by a willingness to stray from the lesson, or whether by a warm friendliness, caring is the single most important element in the teaching-learning process. And the essence of that process is the teacher-student relationship.
The teaching-learning process is a relationship involving intellectual, emotional, and attitudinal interactions that defy simple definitions of teaching. What’s more, teaching-learning always occurs in a context which is an integral part of the process. The medium is the message.
Teacher caring is an act of attending, of active listening, of paying close attention, of eye contact, of an expression of interest, a “felt,” inexplicable aura, and a response that shows understanding and empathy. One requirement is that caring be authentic, genuine. Teachers can’t fool kids. Even if the kid is perceptually handicapped and the teacher particularly clever, the kid is still more perceptive than the teacher is clever. And kids don’t fall for phony, superficial stuff. The well-known aphorism, “They’ve got to know how much you care; before they care how much you know” is true.
Since Teacher Appreciation Week is in May, let me show my appreciation for the two teachers who were authentic, who had unique ways of showing me they cared about my life, and who shaped my life. Two teachers, the best teachers I have ever known, were opposites in every way but one—I learned equally well from each of them.Miss Daphne Crawford
I remember Miss Daphne Crawford, from her ankles hanging over her matronly shoes to the streaked gray hair tightly wound in a bun on the back of her head, secured with a sharpened wooden peg, shiny from use. She was the epitome of the classical “old maid school marm” from her marital status and starched fluffy white lace blouses, to her dark colored dress suits, and to what I knew of her life-style.
Miss Crawford was what I later learned to recognize as “pernickety” with exaggerated enunciation and propriety. With the mien of a countess, she was always in the ”teacher mode,” a pedagogue, who persisted in correcting not only student errors but also other teacher’s grammar as well. She pounced on spoken, grammatical errors at the time they occurred, in the middle of a sentence, not afterward. Though it has been fifty-eight years since I spoke to her, her exacting articulation in the manner of a Shakespearean Actor still reverberates precisely in my memory:
“They are not 'kids,' they are children. Kids are baby goats.”
One unforgettable error I made was while reading aloud a passage from Hamlet regarding the Brazier (torch) closest to the queen’s chamber. I called it the “queen’s brassiere.” Miss Crawford slammed her fist on her desk saying ‘Brazier, Brazier, Brazier’ three times, glaring as though I had used a vulgar or profane four-letter word. No one laughed – until after class.
Miss Crawford threw a chalk box toward me one time in freshman math for giving her a kind of disgusted roll of the eyes response. The wooden box had a sliding lid and contained excelsior and chalk that spilled as it hit the floor. However obvious it was that she didn’t intend to hit me with the missile, it did get myattention. Funny how I still hesitate when I am tempted to roll my eyes contemptuously, even today. Her teaching technique worked.
Justifiably, serenely, professionally proud, Daphne Crawford was the lady who
Did I ever let her know what she did to me and for me?
“NO!” And I am ashamed and sorry, Miss Crawford, please forgive me. And, Thanks!
Coach Morris Osborn
Coach Osborn’s ever-present smile was contagious. I can’t think of him without the vision of his warm smile that was an outward display of his inward enjoyment and delight in the teaching/coaching/learning relationship with students. Sure glad the education professors didn’t teach him, “Do NOT smile till Christmas,”
Did Coach Osborn, a 22 year-old first year teacher/coach, fresh out of college know that he was a role model for me?
I don’t know! In fact, I have no idea! I never previously thought about it.
Did I answer his poignant letter and then thank him for his help, what his advice meant to me, and what he helped me to become?
“You can bet my letter sweaters I would!” But it’s too late. As the Persian Poet, Omar said, “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. Nor all your piety and wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line; nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”
These two teachers made a difference in my life. Each was completely different from each other, very different in their backgrounds, styles, personality, knowledge, age, emotions, experience, mannerisms, teaching preparation, philosophy, and techniques. They were different in their impact on me. But I learned from each of them. I am most fortunate and thankful that the school system didn’t try to standardize teaching characteristics and didn’t require or even expect them both to teach the same or be the same. I wonder if they were “highly qualified”? I wonder if I would have passed state tests, if they had been required?
Did the other 14 teachers I had in high school know how little I learned from them? How little I cared about them?
“NO!” Would they have known me had I gone back to visit some years later? “Surely you jest!” I made no more impression on them than they did on me.
I wonder how my life would have been affected if I had had six great teachers instead of just three, or only one—or maybe none? I can’t imagine that I’ll ever know, or think about it again.
With joy in sharing, firstname.lastname@example.org