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Thumbnail image for red-apple.jpgIt’s National Teacher Appreciation Week, a Hallmark holiday truly worth celebrating. It’s gotten me thinking about some of my favorite teachers. Here’s a small sampling of wisdom that still resonates, from basic to profound. Add your own in the comments!

From Larry (I went to Quaker schools where teacher went by first name), 6th-grade teacher extraordinaire.

When you’re writing out long numbers, you can remember where to put your commas by saying “one, two, three, kick!” like a dance line. Being math-challenged, I still use this regularly.

From Betsy, AP English teacher. Mad for Shakespeare, in love with teaching and letting us catch the fire.

On poems: “In great poetry, each word is an M&M, bursting with flavor and totally necessary” and “No one under 40 has earned the right to use the word ‘putrid.'”

She once demonstrated that line from King Lear, when he’s totally losing it and says, “This hand smells of mortality.” She breathed in the top of her own hand to show us what that might be like, to deeply get our own vulnerability, of someday aging, of being closer to the veil between life and death. It worked.

From Steve, English professor. I took his essay class my senior year of college.

It wasn’t any particular thing he said that’s stuck with me. But he paid unbelievably close, respectful attention to our work. Sometimes a three-page essay was handed back with five pages of commentary. He drew paralells and meaning and symbolism from my writing that blew me away and made me feel much smarter than I was. His simple questions about how I had structured a sentence or used a word made me rethink myself, my position in the world, other people and theirs. Like any great teacher, he made me care more and work harder. When someone is truly paying attention, we can bloom under that light. I wish I had examples for you (they’re in a box somewhere). All I know is that he read us into visibility. And it changed us all, I think.

Who are your favorite teachers? What wisdom did they impart?

[image via: http://www.teacher-appreciation.info/Teachers_Day/USA_Teachers_day_and_week.asp]

 

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