Teachers are by far the most unappreciated people on the planet. They do so much for students and society and are paid very little. I believe that a good teacher can change the lives of many.
I've had my fair share of good and bad when it comes to teachers throughout my grade school days. While the bad ones did make me dislike certain subjects for the year, they are not the people I think of when I hear the word teacher. I think of the teachers and coaches I had who made a positive impact on my life. They are individuals who shaped me into the person I am today. It's crazy to think that without them, I wouldn't know half the things I know and would most likely not be where I am today.
Good teachers turn subjects you like into subjects you love. I have loved English class all my life. Reading and writing were my favorite lessons in elementary school and they were definitely my forte. When I got to middle school, I had an awful experience with an English teacher early on. After that, I thought I hated the subject. Luckily, when I moved on to 8th grade, I had one of the most intelligent and well-spoken teachers ever for English.
He taught me grammar like no one had taught me before. I was always good at coming up with ideas to write about, but my grammar was deplorable. After taking his class, I became what some people call a "grammar nazi." I learned all about rules, punctuation, and clauses.
My teacher made us write complex sentences from a workbook until we knew how to do it properly enough to write it on the board for the class. Sure, that was a lot of pressure for a 14-year-old, but I'm thankful for it. I now know how to write with proper grammar, a skill that helped me write papers in high school and excel in the writing portion of the SATs.
He also taught us a ton of high-level vocabulary words. Every day, he would put a word up on the board. We had to copy the word, the definition, and a sentence he provided that used the word. After this, we'd talk about the word as a class and he would tell us an anecdotal story about the word, which helped us remember it better. He would also use the words throughout the week.
While most teachers would say, "please clear your desks" he would say, "please remove all extraneous paraphernalia from your desktops." Extra, but highly effective.
After we reached 20 words, we'd have a test. Every time we reached 20 more, we had another test. The tests were cumulative and timed to be around 15 minutes long. By the end of the year, we had a test with 300 plus words we had to know by memory because we did not have a word bank. We simply had a blank sheet of paper. The words were in alphabetical order so that helped me recall them to write down. I learned a ton of high-level words that year, which also helped me with the SATs. I knew how to identify them and how to use them in the essay.
This teacher changed my life for the better. Without his lessons, I would not have been prepared for high school or college. No one else in my life had ever taught me grammar the way he did. I was surprised to find that most of my classmates did not know proper grammar rules because they were not taught it. I was one of the lucky ones that had someone teach it to me.
My friends call me a human dictionary and a human Grammarly because they always come to me when they need their essays proofread or need some words to spice up their papers.
I've always detested math. Math in every way shape or form has caused me trouble in life. I never fully grasped the concepts of basic algebra until my sophomore year of high school. I had a teacher who took his time explaining the lessons and did so in a way that allowed my mind to open up. Most math teachers would go up to the board and write a bunch of numbers and expect the class to follow. This teacher was different. He actually wrote out the lessons using words and numbers. I am an English person and following directions through words is easy for me. After reading his lessons, I would simply follow the directions and reach my answer.
I did exceptionally well in that class and I learned a lot of skills that I still use today. I am thankful for his patience and unique way of explaining a complicated subject to me and others.
I had two great English teachers in high school. One of them had us write our memoir which was by far my favorite assignment I've ever had in high school. It was such a cool thing to do and it made me reflect on so much. She was such a cool lady who engaged the class every day and always made sure we were learning. She was also the one who helped us with college applications and explained admission processes that not even our counselors were explaining to us. I would've been totally lost on my applications if it wasn't for her.
The following year, I had another great English teacher. This woman was the most lively person I've ever met. I had her first period, a time where most of us doze off. There was never a time where I dozed off in this class.
Watching her teach made me realize how important it is to do something in life that you are passionate about. She taught books to us like she was telling us a story about her own life. She knew the books inside and out and wanted us to know them like that as well. She loved The Great Gatsby so much that she ordered Gatsby themed flats and brought them to school to show us.
She was always finding ways for us to have fun. We were a class full of stressed out juniors getting ready for the SAT and college applications. She recognized this and wanted us to come to her class to work but to also to enjoy life.
On Halloween, she had us write spooky stories using vocabulary words, then she turned off the lights, gave us mini flashlights, and had us sit in small groups where we read our stories out loud to one another.
On Easter, she hid Easter eggs all around her classroom. They each contained a vocabulary word. We had to run in, grab one, and sit down to define it and use it in a sentence before our 5 minutes were up.
Before we left for the winter holidays, she had us sit down in a circle around her and had us each talk about our favorite holiday memory. We were able to learn a little more about our classmates and had a chill day before break.
During our last day in her class, after we had taken our final, we sat in a circle around her again. She pulled out the book, "The Giving Tree" and told us to listen to her reading, but to pretend we were 5 years old. The book is about a tree that gives and gives to a child until the child is grown and has taken everything the tree can give.
As she read, we all tried to pretend we were kids, but as the book progressed, I found that seemingly simple task to be harder and harder. By the end of the book, the class looked somber.
She told us, "See how hard it was trying to listen to this with the mind of a kid? You've all grown up and are hearing this book as an adult." This hit me hard because I realized that what she was saying was true, we had grown up. We heard the sad story of the tree and I understood that's how our parents felt about us. We could no longer be ignorant to the true message of the book. Her lesson truly marked my life. I'll never forget that day.
These were just some of the teachers who made me realize how important their profession was. I will always look back and be thankful to have been in their class. They continue to teach and hopefully are still changing student's lives the way they changed mine.