Who was, or is, the greatest teacher in your life? What have they taught you?
As a teacher, I feel like I have been asked this question too many times to count. Today I am responding to part of the writing challenge from May 5th. Over the years I have given a number of answers because I realize that no single teacher has caused me to be who I am today. So here is an overview:
Elementary: I don’t even remember her name, but I remember that in my third grade class I was fascinated that my teacher incorporated projects regarding Native American heritage into our curriculum because there was a large native population in our school.
Middle School: Mr. Nunn was my eighth grade homeroom teacher. He was also the first teacher that I remember who let me choose my own projects that interested me. I remember studying astronomy, which led to astrology and Greek mythology, and it later prepared me for high school English classes. He also gave us ample time for silent reading with a book of my choice, which I loved!
High School: Mr. Gonzalez was my first high school Honors English teacher. I remember that he was great at bringing humor in the classroom. One day he came in wearing red stiletto heels! He is the one who made me start to like writing.
Undergrad: I had a lot of classes over the four years I was at University of Oregon. I think I only took one or two courses from her, but she was also my academic advisor for the international studies program so I talked to her a few times outside of class: Kathie Carpenter. This woman had traveled the world. She had adopted a kid. She was a strong single woman who was passionate about her career. I wanted to be her. She told me one time that she could see me being a school administrator because I have a business minor and I love education, which remains to be seen!
Graduate: I’m about to complete my second graduate degree so I’ve had quite a few grad courses as well. My favorite instructor was Ruth Shagoury. She reminded me that writing can come from a personal place and that I needed to find my voice in my writing. I’m still working on those things. She also made me think about teaching pre-school because of the fascinating reading and writing that can emerge at that level. I’m grateful for her classes, because all of my student teaching was in the elementary grades, but my first full-time teaching job (and a lot of my subbing jobs before that) was teaching pre-K. As a teacher, I love her website Litforkids and Choice Literacy which she regularly contributes to.
Now: I think my biggest teacher has been the world. I’m an international citizen. While I’m not a third culture kid, I certainly identify with that question, “Where is home?” I love my family and friends in Portland, but I feel like if I ever buy a house it would probably be somewhere in Latin America or on the Mediterranean somewhere. I feel like everywhere I go I find something to love, new people to love, and a new culture to explore. I will keep learning because the world is a big place!