role-model

I wish that some of our teachers could have attended our reunion. One of my favorite high school teachers was my ninth grade English teacher, and most of my "big word" vocabulary is directly because of him.

In the first week of school, he assigned two chapters of "Great Expectations" by Dickens with a list of twenty vocabulary words. Our homework? Read the chapters, look up and write out the definitions for all twenty words, and use each word in a sentence. Due the next day.

It took us forever. I remember wondering if the whole year was going to be this hard.

The next day, after we had handed in our homework, he said this:

"You guys, I just need to apologize. I did the homework too last night and it took me over two hours to complete! I had no idea it was going to take that long. From now on, it will be a much shorter vocabulary list."

We all breathed a sigh of relief.

And now, fourteen years later, I want to thank this man who taught me what "dregs" and "anathema" mean. And more importantly, I want to thank him for setting such a good example for me: teachers aren't perfect, and it takes both courage and humility to admit mistakes and correct them!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dang, wish my vocabulary was less provincial...

Tracie said...

I honestly believe this type of situation is what helps me have such a trusting respectful relationship with my students. If I am wrong, for whatever it is, I will apologize. If I do something wrong and they correct it (respectfully of course), I thank them for pointing it out.

Sherri said...

I love that you remember this about your teacher, and he would probably love to hear these things! Many, many teachers wouldn't think of saying they were wrong or sorry. My daughter's 6th grade science teacher this past year was like that, and it turned her off of science.

There are a few teachers that I would love to see come to a reunion! What a great idea that would be....but maybe they would have to be voted in, because there are some who would be shown the door!

roller coaster teacher said...

Did you read this article about people finding former teachers to thank on Facebook etc? "On Facebook, Telling Teachers How Much They Meant" is article title:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/14/nyregion/14facebook.html?_r=1

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute. I thought I was responsible for your "big word" vocabulary! dad

malia said...

How wonderful that you remember such a special teacher-- he clearly made a big impact on you!

Mrs. Fine said...

A great reminder you post, for us teachers. It was hard in those first few years of teaching to admit mistakes. Now, bah! I let the kids take over a lot of the teaching/community building and am much more open to not everything working out perfectly! Sometimes I see my FB friends being friends with our HS teachers and I lurk to check out their photos. Many of the teachers look the same...here's to hoping that I do too when I am a FB friend with a former student (I tend to decline those requests currently!) ;)

Bethany @ Organic Enchilada said...

There were three teachers from my high school days that really made an impact on me. One of them has become a dear friend in my life, and I am so grateful for them all!

However, none of them taught me to use big words.

Maranda said...

Oh he sounds like an outstanding teacher! Sorry you didn't get a chance to see him again.

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