There are so many topics that I could blog about, but I want teachers and others to read this short op ed piece from the New York Times by Marie Myung-Ok Lee author and writing teacher at Brown. I first learned about it from Larry Ferlazzo’s websites of the day.
She shares the influence that two high school teachers had on her and questions whether this is possible in today’s world of high stakes testing and focused curriculum. A teacher's influence is so much more as she shares in her brief story.
I can now appreciate how much courage it must have taken for those teachers to let me deviate so broadly from the lesson plan. With today’s pressure on teachers to “teach to the test,” I wonder if any would or could take the time to coax out the potential in a single, shy student.
If we want to understand how much teachers are worth, we should remember how much we were formed by our own schooldays. Good teaching helps make productive and fully realized adults — a result that won’t show up in each semester’s test scores and statistics.
How true. For me it was two PE teachers and coaches at Olympic Junior High who influenced me in significantly different ways. It will be no surprise that I was short, but I was also a good athlete. I sometimes let my stature get in the way of my potential, easily convincing myself that my size would inhibit success. Mr. Moliter was always there with words of encouragement that gave me confidence and assisted me in focusing on my talent and possibilities. Thinking now about this, I think he actually had an avenue into my self talk as he seemed to always have the right words when I needed them.
Mr. Carr, on the other hand, did just the opposite. He pushed and pushed and pushed, never letting me get away with anything. At the time, I didn’t appreciate it to the point of disliking him as a teacher. Today, I realize that I can trace some of my competitiveness and perseverance to his influence. I am saddened that I have not taken the initiative yet to let them know this.
I didn’t have the same experiences at Auburn High School. I did ok, but know that I could have done better and participated much more. I believe that it would have been different if I had these two teachers pushing and supporting me. THANK YOU!
Yes, even in today's high stakes world teachers do this every day. What we need to discover is how to ensure that every young person has these experiences multiple times in our classrooms.