I love being a writer. I love the process of writing (okay that's not always true but I handed in a book last week so I've forgotten all the hard parts), I love the incredible friends I've made in the writing world, and I love my readers who remind me why I wanted to do this in the first place. But I'm not only a writer, I have another job as well. I'm a High School English teacher.
The thing about high school teachers is that it's their subject that they're passionate about, and boy do I love everything about English. I love helping a student to discover the power of the written word, to encourage a hesitant pupil begin to have the courage to speak in front of a group. I love the thrill of seeing a reluctant reader discover an author they love.
Here are some of my Year 12 girls deep in their film essays today.
What about you? Have you been inside a high school lately? Do you have fond memories or a teacher who had an impact on you?
Barb, it sounds as though you truly love your job and I bet you're an amazing teacher! I don't think we appreciate it at the time but later when we look back we can see the teachers who made a big impact on the direction of our lives.ReplyDelete
I was incredibly lucky with all my high school maths teachers and with one absolutely fabulous and passionate chemistry teacher. I changed schools in 6th form and discovered that the general science I'd done for 3 years at the previous high school was hugely deficient. The new chemistry teacher gave me an intense course in basic chemistry at lunch times to bring me up to standard. Thanks to his dedication I was able to go on to a career in laboratory science.
Sharon, I love the fact that your Chemistry teacher's help contributed to you choosing your lab science career. I know there are some average teachers, just as there are average employees in all sorts of jobs, but some teachers astound me with their constant dedication and passion for what they do.Delete
You know I can always remember my English teacher in my final year of high school Miss Smith and what a great teacher she was and we read some fantastic stories :) but my eldest daughter is and English/ History high school teacher and she loves it as well :)
Oh, I didn't know your eldest daughter was an English teacher, Helen! I bet I know where she got her love for her subject from ;).Delete
Ah, Mr Malcolm (my fifth class teacher) and Mrs Sulikowski for 3 Unit English in years 11 and 12 had a huge impact on me.ReplyDelete
Barb, I bet you're inspiring a whole host of kids! Go you. :-) Mind you, I think I might just hyperventilate if I ever found myself inside a high school again.
How lovely that those two teachers had such an impact on you, Michelle, and I bet you had an impact on them too. I've made some wonderful friends in my past pupils (one is godfather to one of my boys). Often I feel as though they taught me as much as I taught them. :)Delete
Ah! You have one of my fav books there, Barb! I loved To Kill A Mockingbird at School and I've re-read it twice over the last few years as my kids have also studied it in their English classes.ReplyDelete
Mr Robinson was my gr 11 & 12 English teacher. He was old and wizened but his brain..... I had such a crush!
Also loved Mr Reiman who was my geography teacher. I remember he asked me once if I'd written an assignment. I looked at him kind of blankly and said, yes, who else would have done it? He shrugged and said, your mother? I laughed. My mother was heavily involved in the volunteer life of the school and was quite well known. I said, you *do* know my mother, right? He sheepishly withdrew his question :-) I loved him not because he was necessarily a great teacher of the subject but because he always encouraged his students to get out into the world and see/experience things.
And lastly Mr Campbell was my 11/12 Maths 1 teacher. Such a quiet, unassuming man but bless him for all the extra time he put in to trying to help my non-maths brains understand all that damn algebra! I never truly wrapped my head around it but he always without fail helped me whenever I asked for it. he went above and beyond!
Amy, awesome that you had such fabulous male teachers. There seems to be a real shortage of male English teachers these days which is such a shame. I'll never forget my Year 12 English teacher, either. He was fabulous. And I'm SO with you on the maths!Delete
Barb, your passion shines through. In year 13 (not that it was called that back then) I had two teachers who really influenced me, My English teacher and my French teacher. Unfortunately my French did a dive, not really being understood too well in France. Hopefully I've made up for it with my English.ReplyDelete
Sue, I bet your English teacher would be so proud to see what you've achieved with your English! My only regret about English teaching is that we really don't pay enough attention to genre fiction. I intend to do something about that, though.....Delete
Having some tremendous English teachers inspired my love of reading. And wow, fancy teaching those fabulous texts... slightly jealous... Keep up the good work.ReplyDelete
I'm so lucky, Malvina. One of the best parts is that we get to choose what we teach and have some fantastic resources. My Year 13s (and me) are all in love with Jay Gatsby at the moment :) Lots of fun.Delete
I'm jealous also, of those lessons you're teaching Ms DeLeo. I know I would adore your classes -- it's been too long since I studied books in the academic way and I so loved those years of story discussion.ReplyDelete
As for teachers, two come to mind. Miss Hunt was my Grade 3 teacher when I moved from a teeny-tiny one teacher school to the "big" town primary school. I was very shy and slightly overwhelmed and she was exceedingly kind and encouraged me and my reading. Then Miss Bosenquet, English in Yr 8. Another who pushed me and was brutally honest with her report cards, which pushed me harder.
Oh, Bronwyn I love the sound of Miss Hunt. A warm and encouraging teacher is such a wonderful thing. And could there BE a more fabulous name than Miss Bousenquet!!! I would love to do a survey of romance writers to see what their teachers said about their writing when they were at school.Delete
I've just re-read To Kill A Mockingbird, Barb, and it's made me think back to high school when I read it last. I wish I had my essay on it so I could see what I understood about the themes in the book back in Yr 8 or Yr 9. I had some fabulous teachers, Miss Vining-Brown and Miss Wintle for English were ones I adored. They loved books and discussions in their class were always vocal, even from quiet me. I drifted off for years into science but now I'm writing again, I think very fondly of my old English teachers, they gave me such a fabulous grounding.ReplyDelete
I bet your students recognise your love of books too.
So lovely to see you here, Cath. Isn't Mockinbird incredible! To think that a book written more than fifty years ago still has such resonance for teenagers. My girls are really looking forward to the new Harper Lee novel coming out. I can't think of much that I love more than discussing books with my students :)Delete
Haven't been near a high school recently. However I still vividly remember several of my high school teachers.ReplyDelete
There was Mr Rhodes who I had for 3, 4 and 5th form Maths. I generally found all of the maths easy but he made the effort to provide me with additional work to stretch me.
For Chemistry - there was Mr (Dave) Lebandowski (sp?) who was my 5th form Chemistry teacher - he was always doing experiments that we entertaining for the students. I'm sure there were many more people taking 5th form Chemistry than otherwise would have been. He's also the one who taught us about the nasty side effects of surviving Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Apparently back when he was at uni, the fume cupboard extractor and the gas mask he was using failed at the same time during an experiment - fortunately other people in the lab noticed something was wrong. Apparently the treatment is to saturate your blood which results in a hangover type headache the next day without the alcohol consumption.
Also, I have clear memories of two English teachers from high school.
Firstly Miss Fiona Blank, my 4th form English teacher - the reason that I remember her is not positive. I can't remember all the comments made about my creative writing, but I do recall that she said I had no imagination. <-- part of why it took me time to open up about starting to write and also why the process so far has been so slow.
The other English teacher was positive influence on me - Jane Dewar. My favourite part of 5th form English with her was studying Romeo and Juliet. To this day, I still enjoy Shakespeare. There were other parts of that year I enjoyed but I don't recall what was included aside from the fact that it was part of the School Cert curriculum.
All teachers noted above were while I was at Heretaunga College in Upper Hutt. However, I changed schools after the first term of my 6th form year and as a result studied Romeo and Juliet again as part of Six Form Cert. Though I don't recall that teacher's name, I do recall that partially due to the teacher also being a film critic for the local Hawke's Bay paper, that she would allow us to watch the BBC version of R&J but she refused to let us watch Baz Luhrman's version.
Lengthy response, sorry - still shows that I had some teachers that were memorable - mainly for good reasons.
Hi Lyn, I'm so sorry about your negative English teacher. We have such a responsibility in our subject to be sensitive when we ask our students to share so much of themselves. Have you seen the Luhrmann version of R and J??? I must have seen it 20 times. Leonardo is absolutely incredible in it. While I don't love musicals or things that are too overly dramatic (haven't seen Moulin Rouge) there's something about the way Luhrmann tells a story that I just love.Delete
I've had quite a few teachers make an impact on my over the years and my younger sister is just about to finish her teaching degree, so I have huge respect for teachers!ReplyDelete
I actually dedicated one of my books to my grade 3/4 teacher. I was only 9-10 when he taught me but he was one of the best teachers I ever had - firm but fair. He taught me a great lesson about the perils of being a perfectionist (something I've always struggled with) and it's a lesson I've carried with me through adulthood.
Great post! I hope your students did you proud :)
Stefanie, I love that you dedicated one of your books to your teacher! I bet he's extremely proud of you. I'm just about to sit down and mark the first writing portfolio piece for my Year 12s and I'm looking forward to it :)Delete
Wow, how do you fit it all in, Barb? Teaching, writing, family....wonder woman!ReplyDelete
I had a great English teacher in high school. Especially loved how she taught Graham Greene novels.
Mostly just grumpy woman, Jen! I'm so lucky to have so many different parts to my life but I'm often guilty of dropping a few balls. When that happens I just sit down and read :)ReplyDelete