Mad Teaching Skillz

I’ve read a lot recently about education in the news lately. How teachers are stepping up in the classroom to make a difference in the lives of their students. These people may or may not be parents themselves, but even if they have no children of their own, they are just as important in the lives of their students and the lives of the parents of those students.

A teacher in Utah several decades ago saw that one of her students was having some difficulties at home and with kind words helped to teach her things that the child’s mother wasn’t able to at the time. Something simple like how to take a bath and wash your clothes as well as knowing that there was an adult who was able to be there for her to rely on. This teacher had helped other students with their self-confidence by being a generous grader with their homework when she realized that the student would do better once she had a little faith in herself.

Another teacher, in Texas, changed the life of her former student so much that when the now grown-up student found out that her former choir teacher was suffering from Lewy body dementia, she took the now elderly woman into her home. The student had been in contact with her teacher for several years before that and would often come over and help with something should the teacher call. The teacher, Martha Hayes, had no children and no family left by the time she was no longer a teacher, but Carolyn James, her student, was quoted as saying that ‘her students were her children.’

At a middle school in Utah recently, when football coaches found out that some of their football players were taking part in less than stellar activities (cyberbullying and skipping classes, some even failing classes) they decided to make a stand about it. They disbanded the football team and told their players that they would have to ‘earn the privilege to play’ back. They were very open about why they were taking this course of action and the team reacted. Within one week, many of them had earned their jerseys and the right to play on the school football team. The team was told that they would need to do community service, attend their classes and take a class on character development. Those that weren’t doing so well in their classes were told that they needed to improve their grades.

The students, the football players, they took what their coaches had been saying and made it a reality. They responded positively to being told that they needed to straighten their acts. Within one week all but 9 of the original 41 players had earned their privilege to play on the field back.

I’d mention everything that I have read about, but then this entry would be twice as long as it already is. So I will leave off with a few experiences that I can’t place a a link to about because they didn’t make the news. But these teachers still deserve some recognition, because they have mad teaching skillz.

When I was in the first grade, I was always late to class. It wasn’t because I was actually late to the school, but because I was easily distracted and didn’t want to leave what I was doing just because the bell rang. My teacher, Mrs. Beers offered me a deal: if I arrived on time to class every day for a week, I would win a small prize. A pencil or eraser that wasn’t the normal school issue, maybe a new notebook to write in (I was always running out of paper after writing). If I was able to come on time to class every day for a month, I earned a candy bar. I haven’t been late to any class if I could help it since then even though none of my other teachers had a reward system. I learned that I liked being on time because of her.

And that brings us to today and why I started writing this post at all. I had spent the morning trying to find something that I could get into my head enough to write about, but I was coming up blank on most everything. What prompted this entry wasn’t because of all the awesome teachers in the news this month, though if they hadn’t also been mentioned I likely wouldn’t have remembered to write this at all. My eldest nephew got a 95% on his math test today and was the second highest score in his class. We found out about this because his teacher took the time to call and let his mother know in order to let Chris know just how important a feat that was. After learning of this, all of the other articles and instances jumped from the back of my head into the front and I knew what I had to write about.

We often hear about the lame teachers when talking to students, but maybe we should pay more attention to the ones with mad skillz instead.

Research:

Teach to clean: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=27091871&nid=1010&title=woman-reconnects-with-teacher-who-changed-her-life&fm=home_page&s_cid=featured-5 and http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=26890135&nid=1010&title=35-years-later-woman-searches-for-teacher-who-changed-her-life

Choir teacher: http://www.today.com/news/full-circle-woman-cares-beloved-childhood-teacher-8C11299078

Football team: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587020/Taking-a-stand-Union-High-coach-suspends-entire-football-team-in-lesson-about-character.html?pg=all#cxrecs_s and http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865587112/National-attention-support-overwhelm-Union-High-coaches-administrators.html

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