Everyone remembers their best or favorite teacher. Maybe they were the one who convinced you to follow your heart and become a writer. Maybe they were the one who opened your eyes to things happening on the other side of the globe. Maybe you were just feeling sad and they cheered you up.
The point is, you probably don’t remember your favorite teacher for being the one with the highest test scores. While test scores are important, they do not make a teacher great. With all the emphasis on standardized testing, we are forgetting the humanity in teaching.
It’s okay to remember that teachers are people who care about kids. When asked why they started teaching, many teachers say it was because they wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. Not one will say it’s because they wanted to raise a classroom of good test takers. Yet, that is what teaching is becoming. It feels a little sad that the love and excitement are being sucked right out of the teaching profession. It’s also why teachers are leaving the field in record numbers – even those who do happen to produce high test scores.
It feels like a good time to pause and think back about some favorite teachers. Here’s what some ex-students recall.
“She was always kind, thoughtful, and generous. She continually listened to what we had to say. At the end of each class, if time permitted and if there were people who wanted to, we would have a little show and tell time…She always took the time to listen to our thoughts and was never impatient with us, and for that I am very grateful,” said Kim Hayward of her favorite music teacher.
“The most outstanding teacher I’ve ever had in all my years of education is Miriam Schlessinger, from whom I had the pleasure of learning translation. She was organized, respectful and interesting. But the best thing was that she knew how to criticize our work and ask questions to make us think,” said Michelle Ben.
It might be worth remembering as our scholastic culture is being reshaped and reformed.