I’ve been a teacher for 28 years. My husband and I have five kids between us. Four of them have graduated high school. Our youngest will finish middle school this year. A couple of them have finished their college coursework. We’ve spent a fair amount of time in schools and celebrated our share of Teacher Appreciation Days.
As you might guess, we have experienced every kind of teacher imaginable. The ones who loved our children as their own. The ones who didn’t seem to enjoy kids at all, but had incredible understanding of their subject matter. The ones who helped our kids as they struggled to learn basic facts. The ones who ignited a fire for books. The ones who interrupted the flow of normal family life with intense homework loads. The ones who taught our kids that learning is fun and knowledge is power.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not faulting any teaching style. I get it! I’ve probably been all of those teachers at one point or another in my career. When we chose to put ourselves out there for the greater good with children, we knew exactly what we were getting into. Teachers are growing and learning right alongside the students. We are human, which translates into honest mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times I finished a lesson and the only thing I knew for sure was that I wouldn’t do that same lesson again. It happens. We can’t always be a Beatle. There are times when we’re Nickelback.
As a parent, I don’t expect the teachers to be perfect. I want them to be authentic, to be approachable and to share their love of learning. My hope is that teachers offer some nuggets for our kids to savor. Maybe a life lesson. Maybe a character builder. Maybe a deeper understanding of weather systems or algebra.
We were having a conversation with our daughter in the car, which is always the best place to chat with a teenager–if you don’t have a teen yet, just wait. No eye contact in the car equals more conversation. Not sure how that dynamic works, but it does. Trust me. Anyway, she was talking about the end of the school year and mentioned that Mr. Morgan was her favorite teacher. When we asked why she liked his class, she commented that she felt like she really earned her grade from him and that he was fun. Sounds like a simple formula, but this Morgan guy has it down to a science.
The kids in his 8th grade Social Studies classes don’t simply earn a grade on assignments and move on to the next thing. He provides feedback to every student on every assignment every single day. You heard me! Every. Single. Day. He challenges them to dig deeper. He makes his students want to do more. They take that specific feedback and run with it. Maybe they’ll rethink an answer. Sometimes, they’ll read another source on the topic or find a video to view. They talk about history outside of class! They work for those grades and love every minute of it!
You know why? Here’s the simple part. He cares about them and their education. It’s not a secret. If he smiles and calls them dirtbags, they know it’s only because he loves them. He takes the time to learn their stories. He welcomes every kid with a chance to become a better student. He offers them a solid structure with a side of silliness. He is dependable. He is knowledgeable. He is consistent. He served his kids pancakes on a state testing day, for goodness sake! He is a Beatle.
Our kids have been lucky enough to have many teachers like Mr. Morgan. Teachers who connected with them as people. Those are the teachers they remember. The ones who went beyond the homework and the tests. The teachers who understood that it wasn’t just about the subject matter. It was about the kids. The smart kids. The athletic kids. The goofy kids. The sad kids. The artistic kids. The lost kids. All of the kids.
I hope your children have a Mr. Morgan. Everyone should be so lucky.