Normally I don’t feel all that inspired by The Daily Post’s prompt for the day, but yesterday’s really struck a chord with me, as an educator. Of course, I’ve known for a long time that a teacher has a larger impact than just imparting knowledge. I’m not sure I knew the influence some teachers were having on me at the time, but on reflection I can see very clearly now. Throughout my training I aimed to become more and more like some of my former teachers, whilst becoming less and less like others.
I have 2 favourite teachers… Mrs Sneddon and Miss Wilson. They were so different, but yet so similar.
Miss Wilson was my teacher for 2 years at a British Services School in Germany. She reigned with a fearful reputation, and I remember waiting to be told whose class I would be in that September… and internally wishing ‘please not Miss Wilson’ over and over again. I’m not sure why, after all she had never taught me before. I’m almost certain, though my memory is foggy, that she had, in fact, never spoken to me before, either. Neither of these things mattered, though, as her reputation as a mean and strict teacher went before her. Except, she wasn’t mean; she was fair. She wasn’t strict; she had boundaries. She was an exceptionally talented teacher; one who made me work the hardest I had ever worked before… and probably since. I adored being in her class, and I like to think she enjoyed having me. Imagine my delight when she stayed with my class for Year 4! I can only remember a few actual topics, but I do remember that it was in her class that I learned to write with legible cursive handwriting. I learned to spell, and I fell back in love with reading. She nurtured me as an individual, and took an interest in my life after we moved away, back to the UK. All in all, she was just fabulous. I wonder now where she is, whether she is still teaching, and if she remembers me.
Mrs Sneddon was not really an actual teacher to me – I think she maybe taught me a PE lesson once upon a time. She was, however, an incredible influence in my life. Firstly, she was my housemistress when I was an unruly teenager who didn’t want to do their homework. Secondly, she introduced me to sailing – my opportunity to both enjoy and achieve something outside of normal academic life. What an enormous boost to my self-esteem, and my emotional wellbeing! Mrs Sneddon was always there, cheering me on, even when I didn’t want it; even when I messed up and made her working life very difficult; even when I left her care and school and went elsewhere. Amazingly, I was able to invite Mrs S and her husband Mike (who helped teach me how to sail) to my wedding in the summer, where I got to tell her of my First Class Hons degree and my impending NQT year. I finally felt like she could be proud of me… but she encapsulated a truly excellent teacher and mentor when she said ‘I’ve always been proud. I’ve always known you could do it’.
Two exceptional teachers; two different periods of my life. I hope that in my teaching I can inspire and nurture my children in the same way Miss Wilson and Mrs Sneddon did for me.