Your favourite teacher. Who do you remember and why?
Remember when life was about the morning bell, who you sat next to and whether you got a yoghurt in your lunchbox? Ah school days. I loved the little bubble world that I lived in.
Life is so big now. At primary school your life is so secure and small. Class. Family. Teacher.
I was recently reminiscing with a bunch of friends about school days and what we remembered most. All of us – EVERY SINGLE PERSON - could name a favourite teacher or two off the top of our heads who inspired us and who we are still thankful for today.
Little people can have big memories.
Two of my teachers played a huge role in setting me up for life. They’ll probably never even know it.
Home life is obviously a huge contributor to who we are, but school days are our chance to create who we are away from our family. They are when we can just be ourselves, without brothers and sisters, without having to fit into a predetermined place in our family. We can find our own interests, skills, friends - and shine. It’s empowering stuff. And our teachers share that experience with us closely.
My school days were happy ones. I loved learning. I felt safe surrounded by supportive friends. I know I was lucky because not everyone had this shiny-happy-days experience.
I’m not sure if it was compounded by the fact that I am a middle child, but school was my place to stand out.
My primary school teachers meant the world to me. I looked up to them. Living away from extended family, they were possibly the grown-ups I knew best besides my parents. My friends and I hung on their every word, talked about them in the playground, wondered about their lives outside of school. They were mysterious creatures who guided and inspired us.
My year three teacher Miss Consolaro taught me sharing is caring. I received a little more attention during this year and I think some of my friends may have (jokingly?) even said I was the teacher’s pet. But I didn’t care. It wasn’t just me that she showered praise and attention on. She seemed to genuinely adore children and being around us. She called on me whenever someone needed to borrow a pencil sharpener. She asked me to read my stories to the class. She chose me to open the door to visitors and to ring the bell. She made me feel that I mattered and that I was worthy of the responsibility.
In response I tried super hard to achieve and live up to her expectation. Her treatment and respect for me that year set me up for future years. She confirmed the values my family had taught me and encouraged me to stretch myself to be the best I could. I bet she never thought I’d still be thinking about her so many years later.
Onto high school and Mrs Weir, my year eight English teacher was the one who stood out. She treated us as young adults and introduced topics to make us think. Then – she left our school to write a book! She left to write a REAL book!! She inspired me to continue my writing and taught me, even by leaving the classroom, that what we learn can be successfully applied in real life. She took a risk and followed through on her dream. I’m sure she wouldn’t even remember me, let alone know that I went on to complete an English degree and journalism major. Her influence was immense.
A friend’s life journey was inspired by her teacher, Mrs Nicholls. She gave her tiny kindergarten students a safe place to grow and learn, full of sensory experiences. She took the time to nurture them into the kids, teenagers and adults that they would become. Picking berries, messy cooking and magical play areas were part of the wonder of Mrs Nicholls class. My friend is now a kindergarten teacher.
A math teacher taught another friend that learning could be fun. A year six teacher’s patience with another showed her that persistence brought results.
The little life lessons they taught us have hung with us all our lives.
I wonder if teachers ever take a minute to think of the impact they are having on each and every one of their students’ lives. It’s a lot of pressure, but also a huge privilege.
Our childhood memories can grow scatty as we age. But I know a few of my experiences in the classroom will stick with me forever and I thank my teachers for this. They made all the difference in the world.
Kate Selth is a writer and a mum, taking time out from a busy @selthykto raise two tiny tots in beachy Perth. In a previous life she worked in media and communications roles in government and charity. And one day she may again! In the meantime, she tweets her views about babycinos, politics and the world
Tell us about your favourite teacher. What did they teach you that you will always remember? How did they impact your life as an adult?