The teachers we remember most are not necessarily the ones who are famous or hold some high position. The teachers we remember most, the ones who stand out from the rest, are the ones who made a profound and lasting impact on our lives.

I was in sixth grade when I was introduced to Mr. C. He had quite the reputation as a teacher who had high expectations and a low tolerance for students who didn’t want to learn about Simon Bolivar and the history of South America. But his greatest claim to fame was the project that had become a rite of passage for students to move on to 7th grade. Each student was required to create a map showing cities, products, and famous people from South America on a large square of white cloth. No fancy computers in those days – it was an overhead projector to trace the shape of the continents, markers to label the important facts and crayons to fill in the white spaces. Although he was a hard teacher (his was the only class I ever cried in because I failed a test), he is one of my all time favorite teachers! How did he make such a lasting impact on my life?

  1. He set high expectations for us. He seemed to know that his expectations for us greatly affected our achievement. He knew that students generally give as much or as little as is expected of them.
  2. He challenged us. He showed us that we could always do better than we thought we could and he encouraged us to do what we thought was impossible.
  3. He supported us. He didn’t give us all the answers or solve all our problems. Instead he faced our challenges with us and helped us find solutions.
  4. He gave us room to make mistakes and helped us identify the lessons we learned from those mistakes.
  5. He believed in us. He showed us that one person who believes in you more than you believe in yourself is enough to change your life forever.

Years ago, as a 6th grade student, I would have told you that a great teacher was someone who provided classroom entertainment and gave very little homework. My perspective has changed. Mr C’s love for both teaching and his subject matter is what fueled my own passion to become a teacher. And for that, I will be forever grateful!

What do you remember about your favorite teacher?

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