The Creative Teacher

It is the creative energy of teachers which distinguishes the profession from tasks of more routinized jobs.  How often have I heard students converse in the high school halls:

“Who do you have this period?” “I got Jones.”

or words to that effect. 

And if  students had Jones, well then Jones had them.

Almost all students respond to the energy of one or more of their teachers.  There is something about the connection, the style, the personalities, the methods that just click.  And it is this connection more than anything else that makes successful teaching possible. It is as the opening of a door.  For the reticent and the outgoing alike. It is what makes teaching joyous. 

When I was in 6th grade I sat at the back of a math class, bored by what the class was doing.  Without my saying anything, the teacher noticed my predicament.  And on one Monday I will never forget, he offered me a curious math puzzle, a problem to address.  And then another and another. Week after week.  I still remember a few of them. And on Fridays I would turn my response in.  Sometimes it was just an equation.  At others justification for being unable to solve it.  The wall I couldn’t get passed.  But it was all quite wonderful.

Half a century later, when I was selling my mom’s furniture, my math teacher showed up with a much older face but his usual knowing smile.  He wanted to know what I had done with my math; that was why he was there.  What could I say?  He was the last great math teacher I ever had, and just possibly because of that, I had become an English teacher.


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