Teachers can be truly inspiring. I should know, I come from a whole family of them.
I’m just about the only one who didn’t much dabble in it. So definitely don’t come to be for inspiration.
But Reddit? Well, that’s always reliable. Especially when you’ve got thread prompts like this:
Let’s get to some nice stories, huh?
1. Never forget
On 9/11, while classes were all but canceled, most teachers just rolled in tv’s and left the news on.
Not Jim R.
He got up and lectured, to the groans of students. He talked about the effects this would have on the economy, our politics, our culture and society. And he was right. In somewhat broad strokes, of course. But this was literally hours after the towers collapsed. When so much was still unknown, frightening and tragic. It really gave me what I would consider a solid base of understanding the things that would come in the next decade.
He talked about how traveling would change with restrictive security measures, how politics would take advantage of ‘terrorism’, how the wars we will engage will be paid for by my generation, my kids generation and so on. He talked about how racism will spike toward middle eastern peoples out of anger and fear and how that is totally wrong. As a vet and former cop, he cautioned us to not join the military while emotions ran high and a sense of patriotism was thick in our veins.
It was a gift. As the years went on, wmd’s, the iraq war, tsa, department of homeland security all came about, I felt like I already knew. I will never forget that fourth period class.
2. Mr. Taylor
“Good morning. I’m Mr. Taylor and I will be teaching grade 10 English this semester. First let me address what you’re all wondering. Yes. This is a glass eye. I lost it playing darts.”
DART TO THE EYE. Will stick with me for LIFE.
3. The letter of recommendation
A teacher of mine said he would write me a letter of recommendation, but it had been a week or so and he hadn’t gotten back to me yet.
I went in a 3rd time to remind him and I started off with an apology, to which he corrected me, saying “don’t ever stop advocating for yourself”
It’s advice I haven’t forgotten since.
4. Verbal guns
“Leave your verbal guns at the door.”
This was the HS football coach’s first words teaching s** ed at my high school. He used the metaphor of the old American west where cowboys would leave their guns at the door when they entered a saloon to drink so nobody would get killed in a drunken outburst. He said we’d talk about a lot of topics that might make us feel uncomfortable and tempted to make a joke at someone else’s expense to break the tension. He asked us to leave our ‘verbal guns’ at the door so everyone could feel comfortable asking honest questions.
This was back in the late eighties. He was way ahead of his time.
5. The giveaway point
My high school biology teacher, on the end of every quiz or exam, would put a giveaway point question.
The question was always the same: Science is: A- Exciting, B- Interesting, C- A Challenge, D- All of the above. No matter which you marked you got the point. However, since this was on every exam, the saying was sand blasted into my long term memory.
This led to me always somehow muttering this whenever I was taking an exam in University (substituting the word science with whatever necessary). Then it led to me muttering it whenever I was dealing with something stressful.
Now it has become a fall back whenever I run into a life roadblock and everything is simply designated A- Exciting, B- Interesting, C- A Challenge, D- All of the above.
It’s simple but it helps keep me from being too negative.
6. Deathbed confessions
Coming up to our final year 12 exams, my maths teacher handed out an article on the most common things people said on their deathbed. She said no one wished they had worked longer hours; that they had spent more time at work than with their loved ones. If we didn’t get the grades we wanted, that’s okay, because there’ll be a back doors to where we wanted to go.
Failure is okay. It’s only a minor setback. What’s important is having a good balance between work/studies, family/friends and our own hobbies/interest.
7. Intelligence of the future
2005 a teacher said intelligence of the future will not be defined by how well you know one skill but instead how well you can find information and decipher what information is good and bad.
8. Mercury boiling
In 1974 I was told/taught that the planet Mercury had a tidally-locked orbit around the sun. That one side of the planet faced the sun all the time.
It’s not true.
Mercury’s true orbit and rotational periods were worked out in 1965.
9. The mark of maturity
I had an English teacher my freshman year of highschool who was one of the RARE adults that treated all of his students with respect while at the same time challenging us to do better.
I distinctly remember him telling our class
You are not as mature as you think you are, but you are more mature than your parents give you credit for
He also told us about an agreement/rule he had with his own kids. He understood how hard it was for kids to do the right thing in the face of peer pressure. So he had told his kids that if they were ever in a situation (underage drinking, drugs, whatever) where they knew they shouldn’t be, they could call and using an previously agreed upon codeword that was banal and unsuspicious, he would know he needed to go get them and be ‘the bad guy’.
He would show up, “Uncle Buck” style and get them out of wherever they were. This would allow them to save face with their friends and there would be no consequences for being the situation in the first place.
10. Or did he?
Whenever my teacher said anything controversial that he didn’t want repeated, he would preface it with ‘Don’t quote me on this because I’ll just deny it.’ I still use that.
11. Follow the money
My favorite history teacher told me “follow the money”. Not in life as such, but in looking at events in history.
It wasn’t enough to say “X country invaded Y country because they wanted more power”. Why did they want those lands? What was going on in the economy that made it worth the resources to invade?
In truth it rarely comes down to ideals.
12. The start up
My freshman year history teacher told us first day of school about how he went to college with Bill Gates. Said he was one of the people that Bill asked to invest in his start up. He had declined.
“And here I am…teaching history class to high schoolers” – [user unknown]
13. The call
My music teacher when I spent a large length of time skipping school due to various reasons. She had phoned me after spending hours tracking a way to contact me because she was worried.
“I’m not phoning to tell you off, i’m phoning to make sure you’re okay. You don’t have to go to the classes you don’t like, your exam is on wed and I’m phoning to let you know, no matter what I know that you’d still be practicing because you’re a bright student and I know you’ll go far no matter what you choose to do”
14. Get in sync
My favorite teacher in high school (Coach brineger) once told me that he bought his niece front row tickets to see N’sync. Apparently, for some reason or another, her mother could not go with her so instead, he did. He then told me that midway through the concert one of the guys ended up with a hole in the crotch of their pants. This is the a direct quote by him:
“I guess he didn’t notice, or maybe he just didn’t care? Either way, this dude was free ballin and from my vantage point, I could see it all. So there I am, sitting at a concert I didn’t want to be at, with a star struck 13 year old, watching some dudes balls shakin above my head. Good times”.
He was an awesome teacher though and never gave up on me.
15. Reach for the stars
One of my high school teachers asked me if I had ever considered pursuing astrophysics. I hadn’t. I was asking a lot of questions and it was a really interesting topic to me. It was the first time a teacher ever saw anything in me and believed in me.
Until the pandemic hit, I majored in physics with a minor in astronomy. When the pandemic started, our professors basically said “go teach yourselves” and ghosted us and I was screwed. I truly believe if the pandemic hadn’t happened that I’d still be pursuing that program. Unfortunately, I do not have the funds to do so. I’m now an education major.
We’re all got a lot to teach each other.
What’s something memorable a teacher told you?
Share it with us in the comments.