Tomorrow is a new term and I will have students again, for the first time in six months. I feel like a kid waiting for Santa Claus, I am so excited. I’m already thinking about what I can do differently in my courses, and I’m thinking about all of the great people I will meet. I do a lot of video in my classes, and I’m thinking maybe each student will receive a personal video welcome to the class. I don’t know. All I know is that my goal is to start the course off with a bang and to engage students so that they have a positive learning system. My goal is that they look at different perspectives and that they come away feeling like they have learned and their time has been well spent.
Teaching is something I love. I started teaching piano and dance when I was 13 and I was a flight instructor when I was 18. I’ve taught people to do a lot of things, but nothing is more meaningful to me than my leadership and entrepreneurship courses. The information in my classes can be used, daily, if students are open to applying knowledge. These are very practical courses, although there is a huge theoretical basis in each class.
Why am I so passionate about teaching? Think back for a minute, and try to remember the teachers you had who really pushed you and really made a difference. I vaguely remember Mrs. Mollineaux, my first grade teacher, but not because of a really great experience but because she also taught my mother and my grandfather. I vaguely remember Miss Smith, my second grade teacher, but only because she made Vicki and me sit at the back table and copy the dictionary, because we got in trouble for talking. I remember Miss Ellington’s class, in fourth grade, but only because my mother came running into the classroom with a television, on November 22. My first real teacher who made a powerful impact was Mrs. Jolene Settle, in the 6th grade. The next teacher who inspired me in a powerful way was Mr. Hudson, my World History teacher and debate coach. It was not until nursing school that I encountered Dr. Sheila Englebardt, who turned a girl who really just wanted to fly into a nurse with a capital N, and inspired the passion in me for something other than horses and airplanes. There were lots of other teachers and professors, and the last one was my dissertation mentor, Dr. Corty Cammann. He was amazing. He guided me through a very difficult period in my life, as I started my dissertation just a few months after our grandson was killed. With all of these years of education, wouldn’t you think there would be more teachers who were memorable?
So why were these few so memorable? How were they different from the others? First, I think, is that each one took the time to know me personally and to meet me where I was. There was no hiding from these few. I was always a good student and I never had to work or study for an A, but these four did not allow me to hide and they pushed me. They engaged their classes and forced everyone to think and explore whatever it was we were studying. I worked for my grades in their classes and I respected that. They were all extremely intelligent people, subject matter experts, and they were all passionate about what they were teaching. Teaching was never just a job for them, or if it was, we never knew it. These four people were interested in our success.
When my former students look back on their educational experience, I want to be one of those memorable teachers. That is my goal.