on teachers.

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?


  1. One of the best ones I ever had was 6th grade as well. He gave us each a journal and we had to write him a note everyday and hand it in. We could literally write about whatever we wanted. I still have it. It's amazing some of the things I wrote in there, from crushes to problems at home. What an awesome gift he gave us!

    Thanks for getting me thinking!

    Shannon @ Imperfectly-Inspired

  2. Beautiful words :) I hope Ms. Libby is reading this.

    Also, American Pickers just so happens to be one of my favorite shows. But, I've never watched it while eating Cheese Doodles. I better get on that.

  3. Teachers who really get it are amazing aren't they? I had one teacher last year who didn't put up with any b.s. her students might have pulled. She told us that it would be hard and she made us work for our grade. It was so satisfying to know that all the hard work paid off at the end of that class. She put the fire back under to teach.

    By the way, I'm pretty sure that Ann will wipe a couple tears away over this one. So heartfelt! :)

  4. what a sweet post.

    and i am catching up on my reader and just read your post about going to a counselor. i wish you the best of luck with that and hope you can find happiness...

    (i took the same step a year ago and it has helped! yippee!)

  5. Bethany, you made my night! Brought on a few tears as well, but that's all good. Yes, this is the Ann (formerly Libby) written about above. I am so glad that the BFG and rebus puzzles made an impression on you. I also knew even back then that writing would be important to you. I can't take credit for that; you already had it. Maybe "Kick Back and Read" days helped, I don't know. Regardless, thank you so much for writing about your sweet memories of 6th grade. I'm just proud to be a part of it!

  6. Oh that is such a sweet memory! I'm a substitute teacher right now, hoping to get my own classroom soon (it's tough going for teachers in BC right now), and my practicum was done in a grade 6 class. I loved that class so much that I sent each student an individual post card (mailed together to the school) from Morocco when I went there over Xmas break. I hope someday I can be someone's favourite sixth grade teacher!

    My favourite teacher was Mr. Rayburn, my grade 12 World Religions teacher. He had spunk, and a great sense of humour, and took the time to get to know his students. We kept in touch for a while after I graduated, but lost touch when I moved to scotland when I was 21. I still think of him often, think of what I learned about life and integrity from him, and I try to model my teaching style on his.

  7. Thank you for posting this! It encouraged me to find my grade 4 teacher on Facebook and tell her the huge impact she made on my life. She actually remembered me and she said the message absolutely made her day! :)

  8. this is a beautiful post. the impact great teachers have had in my life is inexplicable. they really can make such a huge difference.

  9. Bethany, I'm a new reader of your blog and have fallen in love with your writing style! Your ability to put into words what so many feel and think is incredible! I love checking your blog to see what new things are going on! I'm also planning a wedding and your posts about your ordeals and triumphs in that arena are really great - loved the one about weight loss comments as this is definitely a shared frustration! Best wishes to you!

  10. I will never forget my first and last teachers at primary school. My first drove a GOLD VW Beetle - how cool! And my last teacher was always the big scary, Hagrid type man until you were in his class and realised just how brilliant he was. When I did my teacher training at university I went back and did a teaching practise in his class which was very strange for him and me both - he had seen me last at 11years of age and then I returned aged 20 to work alongside him!
    The best teachers really do stay with you for life.


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