What makes a great educator?
The greatest teacher I ever had was my mom and while this may seem a bit trite, the relevance remains. That is to say that every great teacher possesses a fundamental parenting quality, without which they cannot be successful. They all have love at the core of their intentions. Every great teacher cares and every great teacher gives you something that is yours forever; something you carry with you that makes a positive difference in your life.
My mom gave me most of those things. After my mom there was Mr. Morrisey, my 7th grade history teacher. He taught me how to be confident and have fun in school. Mrs. O’Brian is certainly on the list, my kindergarten teacher who taught me that being nice to the teacher goes a long way. Mr. Thompson, fifth grade, looked a bit like Lincoln. He taught me that strict and disciplined can be a good thing. Mrs. Downey, second grade, taught me how to be humble. Mrs. Sawyer, forth grade, taught me to do my own thing. Mr. Philips, French class, taught me how to chill out. Mr. Trama, writing in college, saw something in me I had not even recognized.
Each of those teachers was different, very different. No two shared the same style, but each one made me feel special in some way, and each offered me something different. Maybe other students weren’t touched by those teachers in the same way. Maybe some students were touched by the teachers whose names I can’t recall. Still, teachers have to be different because students are different. It is ludicrous to imagine that any one style of teaching could be applied to the masses, any one definition true for the whole, any one method effective for all. Just as crazy as it would be to say that one way to parent exceeds the rest.
Quite frankly, I don’t remember many of the facts I learned in school, but I do remember the more important things. I remember how to learn, how to be organized, how to work with others, how to be responsible, how to find answers, and how to solve problems. The teachers who gave me that weren’t masters or gurus. They simply had love. Just like my mom.