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‘Teaching is far and away the most important of all professions. Teachers make more difference to more people’s lives, in a way that more people feel passionate about…what they do really matters.’
We know only too well the transformative power a good teacher can have. Where would we be without the positive influence of our favourite teachers?
To celebrate World Teachers Day, we’ve been talking to colleagues from across CEM about the teachers who inspired them.
When I was at school my favourite teacher was Mr Wain, my A-Level Economics teacher. Mr Wain was a mature, short, barrel-chested man with brillo-pad hair.
He was invariably a little late for his lessons and we quickly learnt that if we got him on a topic he was interested in (which often had nothing to do with the subject we were meant to be studying), we could keep him talking for a long while. He also had a habit of turning up to his lesson with an extra knot, halfway down his tie. This was his way of trying to remember something. After we asked him, “Why the extra knot?”, he usually gave us another 10-minute anecdote about what he had to remember and what his plan was.
The reason he had an impact on me wasn’t because he was so easily distracted (though goodness knows this appealed to my 17-year-old self). It was because of the richness of his life experience that he brought to his teaching. He had been planning to retire when he took the job at my school - talked into the job by our wily old head teacher – and so he had a wealth of experience, knowledge and many daft jokes. The stories he wrapped around his teaching brought the subject to life. A subject that some see as dry and all about marginal propensities and invisible hands was given real-world relevance by Mr Wain’s teaching. Because of this, I went on to study the subject at University, a decision I have never regretted.
My favourite teacher from school was my year 3 teacher Mr Middleton. He was so funny and his class was never dull. One of my favourite memories is when we used to read stories in class and Mr M used to put on the voices of all the different characters – he loved the Roald Dahl books as much as we did and I can still hear the voice of Mrs Twit to this day! Amazing! Thank you, Mr M.
A stand out teacher for me was Mr Fawkes who taught me French. To me, he was exotic and mysterious and he spoke passionately about French food, culture and literature. He loved French Victorian Gothic literature particularly and I was determined to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame in its original French to impress him. That never happened but I have developed a passion for Victorian gothic literature as a result. I remember being delighted with my GCSE result – the first person I thought of was him and how I was looking forward to telling him. At the time I didn’t realise he would already have known!
My favourite teacher during my time at school was my year 10 Maths teacher, Mr Dixon. He managed to make a subject that I detested with a passion and performed extremely poorly in, into one of my favourite lessons that I actually looked forward to attending.
I think the main reason why he was my, and several other students, favourite teacher was his sense of humour. Every lesson there would be laughs had by all. The great thing was, it was often at the expense of the students, but no one really cared because it was always good-natured humour and was always shared about equally.
He was great at getting students like myself to come out of their shell. I strongly believe that without Mr Dixon I wouldn’t have passed my GCSE Maths and would have not only struggled to get into my sixth form college, but I wouldn’t have been able to get the apprenticeship that changed my life.
My favourite teacher at school was Mr Jewsbury, my Religious Studies teacher. When he first started teaching us, he got us all involved in some great, rather silly, icebreaker games. Without me realising it, he was making what we were doing fun, and I very quickly found that instead of being afraid to answer questions I was joining in with confidence, and the pressure of being in a classroom surrounded by people I didn’t know just vanished.
His lessons weren’t a chore; he made everyone feel included and the impact that had on me lasted my entire time at school. The thing that has stayed with me from his teaching - nothing is scary to learn if you have fun whilst doing it!
Watch Professor Rob Coe’s presentation: A Vision for Enhanced Professionalism