What Teacher Would You Like to Thank?By KATHERINE SCHULTEN
Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.
In honor of the fact that school begins again for many this week, Op-Ed columnist Charles Blowwrites an ode to teachers, and talks about Mrs. Thomas, “the firecracker of a teacher who first saw me and smiled with the smile that warmed me on the inside.” Who is your Mrs. Thomas? What teacher from your past first “saw” you, recognized your talents and encouraged you? How?
In his column “In Honor of Teachers,” Charles Blow writes:
Since it’s back-to-school season across the country, I wanted to celebrate a group that is often maligned: teachers. Like so many others, it was a teacher who changed the direction of my life, and to whom I’m forever indebted.
…The first teacher to clear those hurdles [of out-of-school factors that weigh heavily on performance] in my life was Mrs. Thomas.
From the first through third grades, I went to school in a neighboring town because it was the school where my mother got her first teaching job. I was not a great student. I was slipping in and out of depression from a tumultuous family life that included the recent divorce of my parents. I began to grow invisible. My teachers didn’t seem to see me nor I them. (To this day, I can’t remember any of their names.)
My work began to suffer so much that I was temporarily placed in the “slow” class. No one even talked to me about it. They just sent a note. I didn’t believe that I was slow, but I began to live down to their expectations.
When I entered the fourth grade, my mother got a teaching job in our hometown and I came back to my hometown school. I was placed in Mrs. Thomas’s class.
There I was, a little nothing of a boy, lost and slumped, flickering in and out of being.
She was a pint-sized firecracker of a woman, with short curly hair, big round glasses set wider than her face, and a thin slit of a mouth that she kept well-lined with red lipstick.
On the first day of class, she gave us a math quiz. Maybe it was the nervousness of being the “new kid,” but I quickly jotted down the answers and turned in the test — first.
“Whoa! That was quick. Blow, we’re going to call you Speedy Gonzales.” She said it with a broad approving smile, and the kind of eyes that warmed you on the inside.
Students: Tell us about an influential teacher in your life. How did he or she recognize your skills and talent and encourage them? What difference did this person make in your life?
Do you agree with Mr. Blow when he writes that teachers are currently being “maligned” and that “we take the people who so desperately want to make a difference that they enter a field where they know that they’ll be overworked and underpaid, and we scapegoat them as the cause of a societywide failure”? Why or why not?
Teachers: Here are ten ways to teach with this feature.