This is in response to a post by Diane Ravitch on her blog: “What Do Students Remember about Their Favorite Teacher?“
I was just thinking about this the other day. There is no correlation between my favorite high school teachers and the subjects they taught. I took intermediate algebra my senior year (math was never my strong suit) with Mr. Behm, whom I had known since sophomore year when most of my friends had him. For three years we ate lunch in his room and listened to his conversation with Mr. Lafkas, my senior AP English teacher, and another fave. He played classical music, he’d play comedy albums, he spoke to us like adults, he ignored us, put up with our juvenile humor. He recommended books and movies to us, based on our likes and dislikes, and then discussed them with us. I loved eating in there, it was….comfortable. He was also the “Gate” coordinator, which mainly consisted of a bit of money for enrichment activities. I was smart, but I wasn’t Gate, but that didn’t matter. He felt strongly that being identified as Gate meant little if the kid had no curiosity, so he took anyone who wanted to go. I went on his fieldtrips to the San Francisco Opera, the symphony, plays at the American Conservatory Theater. I learned there’s big world out there (even though I was born and raised in San Francisco!) and I learned that life can be ok. He, and school in general, were an enjoyable escape from poverty, welfare, a mother with mental health issues and a house to help run.
When I finally had him as a teacher my senior year, I was very excited. However, while he was a good enough teacher, I don’t think struggling kids were his forte. Oh, well. I barely passed, and retook the class that summer at a nearby community college where I passed with an “A.” Maybe some stuff did get there!
These two teachers aren’t my favorites because of what they specifically taught me in math and English, most of which I don’t remember. They’re remembered fondly, 30 years later, because they treated me with respect and as someone who had something to offer and say, even at the age of 17.
What do *you* remember about your favorite teacher?