In sixth grade, I had the most amazing teacher, Mrs. Libby. She was the first teacher who I felt understood that we were all little human beings with creative thoughts, ideas and emotions worthy of expressing. Sure, my classmates and I lacked the ability to properly express those ideas and possessed a cumulative smell of rank BO. But she was spunky and she got us. She was an out of box thinker, and read to us from books like The BFG, allowing us to snicker at words like "whizzpopper" and "snozzcumber".
Later, that sixth grade teacher would hand me my first grown up job at a non-profit, where I worked for 5 years, made some lifelong friendships and learned seventeen billion things about the grown up world. Moral of the story...sixth grade teachers can change your life. Be nice to them.
But all that aside, one of my favorite things about Mrs. Libby was this: Every afternoon following lunch and recess, she wrote a Rebus word teaser on the chalkboard. We all quietly raced to decode it. As a girl who struggled with social anxiety, lunch and recess time was the hardest part of the day. But Rebus time was my saving grace. It meant the scary part of the day was through. All was quiet and I could churn in my own mind, melt away to that quiet little cave where my stomach didn't ache and my heart didn't race.
All this had been pushed into my cluttered-attic of a mind until a few nights ago, when I mentally tripped across a Rebus puzzle and started unstacking countless other memories from sixth grade. Suddenly I understood the difference between a teacher and a great teacher: A great teacher makes sure you remember Rebus puzzles and snozzcucumbers years down the road. They create opportunities for expression by planning zombie parties, they spend their precious summer crafting medieval art tattoos. Truly great teachers make you a valuable piece of the classroom and create experiences you'll remember in fifteen years...when you're up late watching American Pickers and eating Cheese Doodles.
Granted, these great teachers are all trumped by the rarest form of teacher, one I've been lucky to have: Hot British Drawing Instructor with Foxy Accent. But hey--kudos for trying, great teachers. :)
Do you have a favorite all-time teacher? What made your teach exceptional?