- A teacher can easily have either a positive or negative influence on learners. Choose your words and actions wisely.
- As an educator, our superpower is to shape and mold today’s learners so they can be valuable members of society.
When I was in grade school, I had some amazing teachers. I remember one time where one teacher, Ms. Inman, had a wealth of empathy for me and for her students. I also remember Ms. McCabe, a super outlandish teacher in the style of Ms. Frizzle from Magic School Bus.
Also, who could forget Mr. Frank, who said he had the ability to have eyes in the back of his head when his back was turned away from the students? (MANY YEARS later, I found out that he used the reflection on his ring to see what kids were doing behind him).
Mrs. Friedley. Mrs. Staudt. Mr. Papierski (who was a student-teacher). I can name drop so many teachers in this blog. They were magnificent and really shaped me as a person today. However, these teachers are not the reason why I am a teacher.Let’s respect and treat each student like how we would want to be treated. If that is done, you will be a memorable part of that student, the one they keep in their memory bank forever and go back whenever they need to. Click To Tweet
Ms. M. (we will call her that to hide identity) is the reason why I am a teacher, and it isn’t the reason you think it is.
When I was in 6th grade, I had a language arts teacher named Ms. M. She was an older teacher, and probably nearing retirement. Ms. M. was not known to be warm and fuzzy. She definitely was a teacher that went by the book, more of a “my way or highway” kind of teacher. I do not remember anything from her class, nor do I remember anything that she said in the class, except for one statement that haunts me every so often (it really does).
One day in class, we were talking about the brain and the bumps on your brain.
She stated that a bumpy brain means you are intelligent. The more bumps you had, the smarter you were. She then proceeded to say that we should all want a golf ball brain rather than a bowling ball brain because even though the sizes were extremely different, a golf ball brain meant you are really intelligent.
One example she used was Albert Einstein. She remarked that when they studied his brain, that it was one of the bumpiest brains science has ever seen. Upon hearing this, many thoughts went to my brain.
- I didn’t think Einstein was so smart because I heard he failed 4th grade twice.
- This comment about Einstein was incredible.
- This must be a mistake.
At an instant, I just blurted, “No really?!” It was more of a question, rather than a sarcastic remark. Before I could explain myself, the whole class erupted in laughter. This did not make Ms. M. laugh, however. You could see the smoke coming out of her ears. She slammed one of the textbooks on her desk to get our attention and pulled out a workbook.
Then she exclaimed, “I wasn’t going to give you homework, but we can all thank Jason for the homework.” She then proceeded to assign pages 30-33 in a workbook. Luckily for me, the bell rang and we all went to our next class.
Even though this was horrific, it wasn’t the thing that I remember the most.
As we were leaving, I overheard Ms. M. talking to one of the other students saying, “Well, I bet Jason has a bowling ball brain.” Really? This statement crushed me and to this day has scarred me. I still have insecurities about my intelligence to this day. (Just to let you all know, I am working on my second master’s degree.)
This has stuck with me for my whole life. I do not remember any projects we did in the class. I do not remember my grade in the class. All I remember from this class was that one comment.
On social media, I hear teachers say what is your superpower? Mine is teaching! However, what does that mean?
I think about this often and this is where I come up with my reasoning for being a teacher.
I became a teacher because I wanted to be the exact opposite of Ms. M.
I didn’t want to break down students; I wanted to inspire and evoke greatness in them.
And I did this so one day my students would grow up and become role models for others and possibly be teachers as well, so they can eradicate all of the teachers who are not doing their job.
Listen, as an educator, we have the power to make our students feel empowered. Our words and actions hang on to students’ lives, for better or for worse. Think about it. Think about that one teacher you remember. What do you really remember?
Do you remember what they taught or what they did in class? Personally, I remember the values and lessons from these teachers, not the curriculum. I also remember the great things my teachers did for me when I was younger. And like I said before, their messages have molded me into who I am today.
However, there are those that have made a negative impact, and I know they have affected me as well, as they have scarred me personally. Do you want proof that it scarred me? I still remember that moment from 30 years ago like it was yesterday. And every time I think of it, it brings me back to that classroom and right back to feeling vulnerable, sad, and quite frankly, angry.[scroll down to keep reading]
Remember, as an educator, our superpower is to shape and mold today’s learners so they can be valuable members of society.
If we can just show our students we care about them and give them life lessons, I know they can grow up to be great citizens of our society. So, as educators, let’s respect and treat each student like how we would want to be treated. If that is done, you will be a memorable part of that student, the one they keep in their memory bank forever and go back whenever they need to.
About Jason Lim
Jason Lim is a middle school Spanish teacher at Kaneland Harter Middle School. This is Jason’s 13th year teaching Spanish. He graduated from NIU with a Spanish lit degree in 2003 and received his Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University in 2013. In his spare time, you can see Jason rooting for the Chicago Bears, Cubs, and Bulls. Besides Chicago teams, Jason is passionate about education and the framework of education. His goal is to be the best person he can be and inspire his students to do the same, whether in the classroom or in the outside world.