“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― William Arthur Ward
I believe a teacher influences and inspires their class to like the subject. I’ve had many good teachers in my lifetime who I have simply just ‘floated’ with. They were alright, but nothing special. They taught me the course because well. . . they had to. We did what we had to do, and it was over. No sense of accomplishment for passing the subject, nor any proudness from myself. I never wanted to be a teacher.
I can remember my first class (around age 6/7) teacher asking the class what they wanted to be when we grew up. They were basically all the same. All the boys wanted to be were footballers. Seriously, that’s all they did. But the girls in my class, we thought we were so mature by naming out several different careers. However, they were all the same. “I want to be a popstar, or a teacher, or a hairdresser”. That is until it got to me. I said I didn’t know yet. My teacher was dumbfounded. She kept pressing me for an answer, and I had none. “But surely you want to be a teacher?” she asked me. “No.” I replied. “Why not?” she asked again. “Because I don’t want to.” I replied. “That’s not a good enough answer.” she told me. I remained silent for the rest of the class. I’ve always wondered why I remember that moment. That first moment of my life where a teacher made me feel shame, probably. Why wasn’t it a good answer? It’s funny though, I met a few of my old classmates a few weeks ago, who are in their final year. They still want to be teachers. I’m still undecided. One of the boys got a scholarship for his football skills.
I’ve always loved writing, but I’ve never wanted to be an english teacher. I’ve had awful luck with my english teachers ever since I started secondary school. In first and second year, we had Mrs. C. Mrs. C wasn’t old, but she wasn’t young either. All she did was make us write stories. Stories with no structure or context. She’s simply give us a topic, and we’d write. Of course, I loved this. But I only loved it because I knew nothing else. I was an A student for my first two years of secondary school. But I found an old copy from those years a while back- it was horrendous. No proper punctuation, no structure, no nothing. Yet, my teacher still praised me. She still gave me all A’s. And she even read my stories out in class. A lot. Towards the end of our second year, she made us read a book in class called I am David. Cute book and all, but we spent four months on it. Four whole months on a book which is not on our course. However, we only truly learned how awful she was when our third year teacher, Mrs. D, took us on. Mrs. C had retired, and dumped us on poor Mrs. D who had to do three years of work in less than six months. By now, all other classes had their poetry done, their play done and their writing skills improved. We, on the other hand, never started. It was a long few months until we sat our mock exams. Eighteen people failed out of the class of twenty six. My friend was the highest with 68%, and I was second with 52%. I genuinely think my teacher woke up in a sweat most nights. In the end, I only got a C in my junior cert. Twelve others failed. Yet, I never lost my love for the subject.
When fifth year came, the beginning of our senior cycle. I was put into a class with very few familiar faces. We were told that our teacher was on leave, and that we’d have a substitute all of September and October. Ms. M was her name, and she was very young. We did hardly anything in her class. But we knew no different. I hardly did my english homework most nights, and the most she’d do was give a disapproving look. We were all fond of her though. While other classes were working their butts off in English class, we were sailing through it with minimum notes and homework that consisted of a couple of lines and a quote. In her class, we did a poetry work, and started Macbeth. Our permanent teacher we had was Mrs. G. She was amazing. I had her for (most) of history for junior cert and I got a B. Genuinely, she’s the best teacher in the school. But damn is she scary. The first day she came back, she gave us a test. However, none of us knew ANY of it. Judging by our terrified looks, and lack of writing, she postponed the test. From then on, English was hard work. But I enjoyed every second of it. And so did my whole class. Finally, I had a good english teacher who was willing to teach me all she knew.
My final year came, and English was my favourite subject because of Mrs. G. I was struggling a bit, because of my lack of foundation English, but because of her I didn’t mind giving it my undivided attention. However, when October came. . . we were given the bad news. Mrs. G had to leave for a couple of weeks due to medical reasons. We were absolutely horrified. Horrified. So was she. She apologised to us so often and gave us a run down of what we had to do. She told us we’d have a male teacher, who was “easy on the eye”. This made us chuckle, but he was never going to live up to her. The reign of Mr. G was now upon us. (No relation, totally different names). He was also a student teacher, quite young, and I had never clashed with a teacher so much in my life. If you could imagine Gaston from Beauty and the Beast… that was basically him. I could tell it was a total act, but that was what we wanted us to view him as. He took on 5th and 6th english class. The fifth years LOVED him. And as one of the only male teachers in an all girls school, he LOVED their attention. We, however, knew what we had to do, and had no time for him. I argued with him a lot, because he was wrong a lot. I remember one quote from him to me was “That’s your opinion. It’s wrong, but it’s your opinion.” We longed for the day that Mrs. G would be back. He used to pass sexist remarks at us to see our reaction. Most days we simply told him to shut up because he was wrong and we wanted to finish our course work.
One time, he said that women should wear caps at their graduation to keep them grounded, whereas men should throw their caps up in the air. (Ironic, right?) We rolled our eyes at him and when he asked, “Not many feminists here, is there?” one girl replied,”Yeah, but you’re wrong so there’s no need for an argument.” And we all agreed. The fifth years, however, created uproar at him. Wasting valuable class time. He was good at that- wasting time. The amount of times he told us about his gym diary got annoying. A typical class with him would be him picking someone to read out loud, leaving to go photocopy something, tell us the photocopier was broken, leave again, come back with warm sheets and tell us he photocopied them before (for the record, they were still warm), and then giving us pointless homework. The was he picked who was to read in class was simple, the first person read about a paragraph, the next read the same amount, then he chose me to read until the bell went for the end of class. It got annoying. Our whole class time was basically me reading. One time he said to us, “I’m going to give you an option; do a test, or watch a movie”. Obviously we took the movie option. I made fun of him for that by mocking him to my friend beside me, and he turned around and looked at me and said, “are you finished?”. He just realised how idiotic his options were. I smiled and said, “yup” and he rolled his eyes at me. That sort of thing was a daily occurrence. One time he told us he hated our class because we correct him so much. Even though we only had him for a few weeks, I could still rant about him all day.
Mrs G eventually came back and we’ve been happily working hard for her ever since. We didn’t tell her much about Mr. G. For a few weeks, she heard nothing of him. We just got along with our work. She realised he did nothing though, so we had to repeat a lot of things he should have covered. One day she came in and was sort of laughing to herself and said, “Girls, the fifth years told me Mr. G was on his phone for the whole class and passed a lot of not very nice comments.” She was expecting us to defend him. We stayed silent. Slowly, we saw the panic rise inside her when she realised the fifth years were not messing with her. The next day she came in and said, “You’ll never see him in these corridors again”. And that’s the last we’ve heard of him.
So I’m now happily in Mrs. G english class, and after each year of hardship, I’m finally happy in english. But look how all these teachers have shaped me. I went from failing to a B in my Leaving Cert mocks. But I only got that B because I worked hard for my teacher. She was devoted to us. Every extra minute she had she would spend on us. She has done so much for us all and I will definitely say she is my favourite teacher I’ve ever had.
I could rant about all my teachers, but there’s no point as I’m leaving school in less than one month. So many teachers have shaped me into the person that I am. My favourite subjects have my favourite teachers because they inspired me to like the subject, and want to do well. I want to do well for them. After all they did for me.
But it’s just a job. Every teacher should be able to get their class to the highest standard. But that doesn’t happen. I never wanted to be a teacher. I would despise going through that cycle for the rest of my life. Early mornings, frustrated kids and teenagers, complaining and moaning all day, and trying to inspire every child I teach. I don’t believe any person should enter teaching for the sake of it just being a job- which would be my only motive. I see people who I just know are going to be inspirers. I am not one of them.