Monday, September 19, 2011

Teacher Appreciation

Q: What's the difference between high school freshman and college freshman?
A: Scrubby facial hair?  Because they act EXACTLY THE SAME!

Today was a teaching day, and as you can probably guess, it went swimmingly (they really need to make a "sarcastic" font).  Half of the kids were asleep, the other half were talking to each other, and the one or two that actually care earned major brownie points.  Granted, today's topic (How to Write a Thesis Statement) was a tad dry.  I dare anyone to show me how to make that subject fun.  As I was sitting there in front of a captive audience (captive in the sense that they couldn't leave class for another 40 minutes), I started reminiscing about teachers that I've had throughout my school career.

Mr. Turner - My 12th grade English teacher.  He actually created a class for a friend and me so that we didn't have to take Spanish 4 with some crazy lady that expected us to read Don Quixote in the original Spanish.  Um, no.  Anyway, Mr. Turner let us write the Senior Murder Mystery in lieu of a foreign language.  I must say, it was the most brilliant production ever to be put on at the H-town Elementary cafetorium (that's right, folks, a cafeteria/auditorium HYBRID!)  In our regular English class, he made even the most menial tasks fun.  It's probably the only class from high school I remember vividly.  Thanks, Mr. Turner.

Dr. Coleman - While he would never win a popularity contest at good ol' Potsdam, he was one of my favorite teachers.  I have a new found respect for this PhD that was stuck teaching Freshman composition, now that I'm faced with a freshman class of my very own.  Dr. Coleman expected a lot out of his students, and I think that's why I learned so much from him.  I enjoyed Renaissance Lit. so much I seriously considered going on to earn a PhD of my very own.  It was the first 4.0 I felt I worked really hard for.  Totally worth dealing with Dr. Cs breath (ew).  Thank you, Dr. Coleman.

Dr. Maus - The quintessential "cool" teacher.  I took as many classes as I could with him.  Simply knowing what he was talking about made me feel like a genius!  He's one of those guys that standing alone, wouldn't be much to look at, but add intelligence to the equation and BOOM - salivating sophomores line up outside his door for office hours.  He really encouraged my academic writing, and I discovered my "voice".  True story: In our folklore and mythology class, we had to present to the class.  My topic was the 8-fold path to enlightenment.  Dr. Maus, being enthusiastic, kept interrupting the presentation, and pretty much stepped all over what I wanted to say.  So, in my evaluation of the class, I just suggested that he not interrupt presentations. Fast forward to next semester, day one of some upper division lit class.  Dr. Maus is doing his first day spiel and he looks right at me and says "Megan, let me know if I'm talking too much."  AHHHH!  I could have died right there!  Those damn things are supposed to be CONFIDENTIAL!  He didn't hold a grudge, though.  Thanks, Dr. Maus.

Dr. Kenny - Take him, or leave him.  Dr. Kenny is who he is, no apologies about it.  You had to be interviewed to enroll in his poetry workshop.  He told everyone that he only let in pretty women and ugly men (alienating the entire class on the first day, that's just how he rolls)  He even kicked everyone out once when we didn't have an assignment done - that he never got around to assigning.  At times, he made you want to bang your head against the desk and burn every single poem you ever though was worth something, because, according to Dr. Kenny, it's absolute rubbish.  It was like the Gordon Ramsey approach to writing.  "What is this?? You'll bloody KILL SOMEBODY!!!!!!!!"  However, when I was in my grad program, he asked me to be a part of an "old timers" poetry reading - basically, his favorite students.  I was incredibly touched.  Thank you, Dr. Kenny.

Teaching isn't easy, and it doesn't always feel worth the time and effort.  But, if you're lucky, you'll reach someone and change the way they feel about themselves, school, or life in general.  Thank a teacher today!