Monthly Archives: January 2013

Things my teachers taught me


Classroom image courtesy of blondieb38, Morguefile.

I’ve lost count of how many teachers I’ve had as a student. There were Sunday school teachers, grade school teachers, junior high teachers, high school teachers and college professors.

All of them contributed to the knowledge that I possess now, but there are certain teachers who stand out in my memory. I still remember things I learned from them, years after I was a student in their class. Today, I thought I’d pay tribute to them by passing on some of what they taught me.

Mrs. C: She was an English teacher of mine in high school. She taught all of us a useful mnemonic about English grammar: “Each and either neither, all your ones and bodies, are singular”. And to forever cement it in our minds, Mrs. C had us stand up from our desks, gather at the front of the classroom, and do the Bunny Hop party dance (see the video below if you don’t know the music) while chanting this rule.

It led to a lot of hilarity and witty comments among us, but this grammar rule stuck with me. The rule means that words such as each, either, neither, someone or somebody should be followed by a verb in singular tense.

Mr. H: He was another English teacher at the same school. From him, I learned what I call “Mr. H’s Magic Formula” for writing a term paper (or anything else I need to write these days). It’s a simple formula, but it works really well when I’m having writer’s block. Here are the steps:

1. Write a first draft to get something down on paper. (Although these days, it’s more often a computer for me.)

2. Take a break for a bit.

3. Come back and revise.

4. Write the final draft.

Dr. K: He was a German professor I had at college. In German, the word for “knife” is “das Messer” and “fork” is “die Gabel”. To help us remember which was which, Dr. K told us to remember it this way, “First you mess it up, then you gobble it up.” It made the class crack up with laughter, but that stuck with us.

I remember other teachers because of their unique knowledge, innovative teaching methods or vivid lecturing style. A junior high math teacher, Mr. F, knew how to sing “Happy Birthday” to his students having a birthday. But he is — to this day — the only teacher I have ever met that could sing “Happy Birthday” in Portuguese. Mr. F also claimed that the storage cabinet in his classroom held everything but the kitchen sink. My sibling, who also had him for math and who possesses a sense of humor like me, got him a dollhouse-size kitchen sink as a joke and made him laugh.

I had one very memorable Sunday school teacher, the Reverend B. As a fun project, he had us go out to my church’s parking lot and use our math skills to figure out how large Noah’s ark would have been, using the Bible’s description.

I also recall two history teachers — Dr. P in high school and Dr. B in college — who were excellent at making historical events come alive. Take an event such as the sinking of the Lusitania or the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution, and they would make you feel like you were standing on the Lusitania‘s deck or on a sidewalk in Paris, watching it all go down.

I’m glad to have had these dedicated folks as my teachers. Blog readers, care to share stories of your most memorable teachers?



Filed under Writing