Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Inspired to Teach

This is Skippyjon Jones, my hero.

He's a Siamese cat that thinks he's a Spanish-speaking Chihuahua. I love him because he has an imagination much larger than his gigantic head.
That and he's super naughty like Dennis the Menace. I like that.

Skippyjon Jones reminds me, on those days I need to be reminded, why I love being a teacher. Skippy JJ is full of curiosity, fun, and adventure. Just like kids.

When I was a kid I wanted to become a teacher so I could boss people around and make them listen to me. As I grew up and started making that dream a reality, my motives changed and became more about wanting to inspire kids to learn, and more importantly, to never stop learning.

I think I got that inspiration from my own teachers growing up. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure it started in junior high where I was exposed to many different teachers and their respective teaching styles. I had teachers who were passionate about their subjects and teachers who made me laugh.

Among the teachers I loved, I remember Mr. St. Onge most vividly. He was a nerdy hippy, if you can imagine that, and he taught eighth grade history. Sadly, I don't remember much about what I learned in that class, but I do remember watching Mr. St. Onge act out history before my eyes. He was so passionate about his subject he made history come alive.

He also had some pretty imaginative classroom management strategies. For example, when kids would dare fall asleep in his class, he woke them up with smelling salts under their noses. It was extremely entertaining to watch a sleeping student wake up and be immediately alert.

Mr. St. Onge maximized the entertainment value inherent in his subjects as well as his subject. He also hated gum in his class, so when a student was caught chewing gum, he would make them spit it out into an old cigar box. At the end of the year he would present the disgusting gum and germ filled cigar box to the student who had contributed the most gum to the blob in the box. It was nauseatingly disgusting, but very, very memorable.

I appreciated Mr. St. Onge's personality and I wanted to be him. Except without the nerdy hippy thing going on. I wanted to teach and laugh with my students--and have a personality.

Oh how I wanted a personality. So. Badly.

I think that's part of what I enjoyed most as I started taking college classes. Not only was I exposed to a whole world of information I never even knew existed, but there were all these amazing, inspiring people, people with varied personalities, imparting that knowledge. It was an educational playground, and I didn't want to get off the merry-go-round.

From the first day I started teaching, I have strived to be myself around my students. I want my students to see the humor in everyday things and to learn to appreciate the unique personalities of all the people around them. I want to laugh every day.

I want to make them wear sarcastic signs when they have to go potty.

Actually, this was my attempt at curbing some of the frequent trips to the restroom. It's much less cumbersome than the clown shoes I used to make my students wear to the restroom. Initially the sign backfired on me because everyone wanted to wear it. Thankfully the novelty has worn off.

I am very comfortable teaching with laughter and sarcasm because that is who I am, but the reason I teach is to inspire my students to learn and to want to learn more. I want them to know there is a whole big world out there just waiting for them to explore, there are so many things they don't even know they don't know, and they can have so much fun learning about those things.

My teachers did it for me, and I am inspired to pay it forward. I'm in such an important position to be able to inspire my students to really Be All That They Can Be. Not to steal the ARMY's most excellent retired slogan, but it really sums it up nicely.

I want my students to really feel how much I believe in them and how amazing I think they are. Even though I tell them all the time, I don't think they really get it, so I have this quote up in my classroom, in hopes that it will be etched into their memories forever. It's my favorite quote because it expresses what I want my students to know and remember for the rest of their lives.

My passion for teaching and learning is shared by Capella University, a rigorous and supportive learning community that transforms education into work that makes a difference in the lives of others. Check out their graduates' stories to see what some of these amazing students are doing with their lives and how they're making a difference. At Capella, students develop the knowledge to help others reach their potential. Your degree can change more lives than just your own!

Go forth young Jedi. Be AMAZING.

Who was your favorite teacher in school and how did they influence you?

This post is sponsored by Capella University. For every comment left here answering the question above, BlogHer will donate $1, up to $500, to a charity of my choice - Reading is Fundamental.

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  1. Great Post Jill! Hmmm my favorite teacher?? That is hard because I adored school...but I would have to say..oh gosh I can't pick.. I will say my 5th grade teacher because I think he is the first one to step out of the box and treated us like individuals...that wasn't the norm back in the day..so hats off to Mr Hampl!

  2. My favorite teach was Mrs. Word, our high school science teacher. She had a way of making it fun that has stuck with me. What an awesome lady!

  3. My 10th grade math teacher, Mrs. Nelson, would definitely be my favorite. She made algebra hilarious! She was a 60+ year old woman who had been born in England and still had a slight trace of an accent when she said certain things. She always told us that our graph pictures didn't have to be perfect, just enough that a "man galloping by on a horse could tell what it was." When she taught us about reciprocal functions, she would draw an x on the floor with chalk (joking about the poor janitors the whole time) and then she would jump on and off the x for a while. It was hilarious to watch. She gave us each a tootsie pop to eat during every test. When I was a junior the next year and was in calculus, some of the boys went to talk to her the day before our first test and told her how much they were going to miss that. Wouldn't you know, she showed up in our class the next morning with a box of tootsie pops for all of us for our first test! Such a sweet lady!

  4. I have to say that my favorite teacher was my Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Mumby. She taught for over 25 years. Whenever any one of her former students walked into her class, she would remember you & remember your contribution to her class.

    We all participated in a Christmas Nativity play (unheard of now in public schools) and it didn't matter if you were a lamb (like me) or the angel (like Marlene Minns) you were always felt & were treated as if you were the most important person in that play. She was the best!!

    I try to keep here in mind as I teach. I want 'my kids' to feel that same way. That to me, each one of them is the most important person in class.

  5. My favorite teacher was Tomas Stokoe. He was the high school drama teacher. He had the wonderful ability to make every student feel important and a contributing part of the group. He was also easy going and very funny.

  6. I had to re read your post because I had a Ms. St. Onge in 9th grade history! However, she lacked greatly in any inspiration :( I had a teacher Mr. Brown - english - who taught me to search for the greater meaning in everything I read. To this day I love to do that when I read.

  7. I remember RIF! Got to write in to get them a buck. My favorite teacher when I was young was Mrs. Edelman, whom I had for second grade and also for science the next few years. She taught with so much passion and enthusiasm, and made everything an adventure she seemed to be on for the very first time. She introduced us to other cultures, and later as a science teacher, to other realms. And she was funny as can be. It sounds as if you are exactly that kind of once in a lifetime teacher to your kids.

  8. Love this blog posting! Wish we lived in your school boundaries. You are exactly the kind of teacher I love my kids to have! My favorite teacher. Wow, that's hard, I've had so many! I automatically go to my elementary school memories. I'll just pick one. I loved Mrs. Lewis in 3rd grade. She actually taught my Mom when she was in 3rd grade and I was her last class before she retired! I always thought that was pretty cool.

  9. My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Pedraza had a library in her class that we could visit as soon as our work was done. I loved that she made reading a reward, and not a requirement. I loved my senior English teacher, because he let us explore ourselves and our learning. We would read a book, and he would give us prompting questions throughout the book, but at the end we would come together and the students would discuss what we did or did not like. The only time he would interrupt is if/when we would start arguing. He let us take charge of our own learning, and I loved that. I also decided to become a teacher because of my 4th grade teacher, who was so mean. She called me stupid one day for not understanding long division. I promised myself that I would become a teacher to help students learn, not to make them feel stupid.

  10. My favorite teacher will always be Mrs. Robinson. I was a C/D student who HATED math (sorry Jill). In 7th grade, she pulled us into a pre-algebra section, gave me a calcuator and I got an A. Yes, I went from a C to an A. It clicked, I can't do all that basic stuff, but the number/letter word problem... that made sense.

    She truely believed in me, made me believe that I was actually smart and could do things. There was no reason for me to skate through school. I had A/B potential NOT a C/D student. Thank you again Mrs. Robinson! (I did send her a thank you note when I graduated college. I have no idea if she received it, but I hope someway she knows how much she affected my life.)

  11. Love this! One of my favorite teachers was Mr. Rich in 7th grade. He taught Choir and I didn't love to sing in front of others. He pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me do things I didn't want to do. Sing in front of others by myself...never! But he worked with me and I won't say that I loved doing that but he gave me the courage to do it. He was an Awesome teacher and loved by all of his students. Kudos to great teachers like him and to you Mrs. Scott!

  12. I wish my boys could have you as a teacher! I love your wonderfully sarcastic style wrapped up in caring. I hope my boys (11,9 and 3) are blessed with a teacher like you one day!

    I had many wonderful teachers. I guess Ms. Peart would have to be my favorite. She taught Marine Science in High School. What fun that class was! One of my class mates fell out of his chair (giant football player!) and she went running over to make sure he was ok . . . and then konked him on the head for being so dumb. Did I mention she was just about 5 feet tall and he was well over 6 feet. Still remmeber the look on his face. He did not lean back in his chair again!

  13. ADORABLE <3<3<3



  14. you're the kind of teacher every parent hopes their kids will have.

  15. This is a great post for a retired teacher to read. I hope I left memories like these with my students. My favorite teacher was Mme. Estes. She taught me French for 3 years in high school. When I was given a different teacher my senior year, I ended up dropping the class. She couldn't compare to Mme. Estes.

  16. It is so good to read your inspiring post. Skippy Jon Jones is my absolute favorite guilty pleasure. I even do the accent when I read the books to my fifth graders. My favorite teacher was my 8th grade math teacher. I hated math but she was kind and took the time to make sure we all understood the problems.

  17. In 6th grade, I was terrified to get Mr. DeRoche. He was a former military man who had lost use of his index finger and pointed with his middle finger. He also had no muscle control on one side of his face and talked with only half his mouth. The first lesson I learned from him was "don't judge a book by it's cover". There were thousands of other things that I learned from that wonderful teacher. He has since passed away, but I hope somewhere, somehow, he knows what he meant to a scared little girl, and how much she appreciates him and his efforts still today.

  18. The teacher who left the biggest impression on me was Sr. Elaine Tromba. She was my teacher in 5th grade when I was new to the school, and so was she. We was our teacher again in seventh grade. We knew she cared, and also helped us learn that the Sisters were people too.

  19. My fave teacher? Mrs. Moll. She was my REACH teacher in 4th/5th grade. She really made learning FAR more fun than when I was sitting in my regular classes. She helped me learn there were more ways to learn things than just staring at a book. And now that I have a gifted child of my own, I use the knowledge I gained form her, to help him continue to see that learning is fun.

  20. Great post! I had many favorite teachers but Mrs. Britton-Simmons was the best. She was my 11th grade English teacher and would always tell us that we could call her Mrs. BS for short, as long as we said it with a smile.

  21. I. LOVE. YOUR. BLOG!

    My fav was Mr. Ehlin, my 6th grade teacher. He use to sit on the edge of his desk and read aloud to us! And he had a white rocking chair with a yellow cushion. (Don't know why I feel the need to tell you that!) He made me feel important and smart, and I adored him!

  22. Mrs. Bradford, my fourth grade teacher. (I am in the 5th grade now :)) She was nice to me and I never got in trouble in her room. When I did things wrong she didn't yell at me, she would talk to me. She was SWEET, FUN, and LOVING!

  23. Mrs. Burke, my kindergarten teacher. (I am in 2nd grade!) She loves Jesus! She had a kitchen in her room that I loved to play! She taught me to draw things! And she hugged me!

  24. My high school math teacher! Mr. Remaley he inspired me in so many ways to be a better person and to get involved. I am about to finish my masters degree and it is always so wonderful to go back to school and see him inspiring a whole new class of students.

  25. My third grade teacher Mrs. Waggoner because she inspired all of her students to do the best THEY could do. Not every student is the same and she really recognized that.

  26. I was lucky to have so many great teachers that it's hard to pick just one. I think would have have to be Ms. John my 10th grade English teacher. She tried to be on our level and make things applicable to our lives, but at the same time keeping authority and control over the class room. She also volunteered to be our staff adviser for our creative writing club.

  27. I had some great teachers in high school (about time, since I'd had some... less great ones before). My favorite was Mrs. Blazejewski, my tenth-grade English teacher and newspaper advisor. She had a way of letting us know she cared about each of us individually; she was on our side. My home life was a wreck just then, and it really made a difference for me that she was there.

  28. Miss Gollub was my teacher for 3rd and 4th grades, and although I didn't think anyone could top Mrs. Brusin (k 1 and 2) when I moved into the upper grades part of our two room school house I was so blessed. Miss Gollub was a wonder with music and art and although those are not my strengths, she encouraged each of us to stretch ourselves into more. To this day when I read a book by Graeme Base to my children, or the Witches by Roald Dahl, when I hear Chopin, when I attempt any new art, craft, or musical endeavor I remember how well she loved each of us and appreciated us for the little people we were, instead of trying to form us into something different. I cried on her shoulder, ran to her when I was hurt and several times a week prayed that she would adopt me as her daughter. Her innate ability to love and give so easily was a big part of the reason I became a teacher. My prayer now is that I am able to share a little of her legacy with the kids I teach and coach.

  29. My favorite teacher was 7th grade Algebra teacher, Mrs. Oyamot. She teaches at Kwajalein High School in the Marshall Islands. She taught me about 30 years ago there!

  30. Mrs. Gordon, who deserves a post of her own.


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