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Thursday, May 1, 2014

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The five best teachers

It is May! On May sixth teachers around the USA will be basking in the glory of, "Teacher's appreciation day." May 15th is also Teacher's day in Mexico. Thus, I thought that to start May off on the right foot in honor of these days, I should write a blog about the teachers I am thankful for having. I tried to really think whom I should be appreciating. From my Kindergarten diploma (which I still have pinned to my bulletin board in San Diego) to my Masters… so many teachers have helped me get where I am today. Which teachers should receive my appreciation?

When I first thought of writing this I thought the decision would be easy. However, when I sat down to write it I couldn’t lower it to one…in fact I couldn’t lower it to a top ten! So here are the five groups of teachers who have impacted me most and whom I strive to imitate day by day.

1. The type who are passionate about what they teach.
Even when I didn’t share their passion, there were the teachers who really cared about what they were teaching. And that fact that they believed that Nonverbal Communication (Professor Beach), Group Communication (Ron Lustig), or Geography (Professor Osborn) would really be used in my life motivated me in their classes. In appreciation of them I promise to share my love of languages with students and I help them convince themselves that English will help them in their future!
2. The type who don’t give up.
I struggled in math when I was younger. My sixth grade teacher (Mrs. Corcoran) gave me what seemed like hundreds of extra credit worksheets to improve my grade and help me practice. I never became a math whiz, but I did have a solid base after that. Similarly Spanish in high school didn’t come easily to me. My teacher (Mr. Naranjo) held private classes for me after class one on one or with another student until I finally stood up mid-lesson and said, “Oh! So that’s the subjunctive!” In appreciation of them I promise that no student who comes to my office for help will be turned away, and that I will always offer extra help (be it online or in person).

3. The type who let me do new things.
In 5th grade Ms. Sipe did a State project which included presenting on different states, AND puffy painting a square of fabric with our representation of the State. This was then mailed to the state’s Governor with a letter explaining I was researching Utah for a class project and we were making a quilt of the country. If he could please sign the quilt and send it back we’d appreciate it. I must have proofread that letter thousands of times! And when I got back the envelope filled with brochures about Utah’s history and my signed quilt square, I was beyond excited! In high school my English teacher Mrs. Bamberg often did different quizzes. First we would draw out summary of a chapter, then we would recreate trench warfare in the classroom. Flash forward to studying art in Spain where our teacher (Rueben) actually took us into museums to look at the real art! This wasn’t a once a semester trip, oh no. We went at least once a month. This was groundbreaking to me. I loved being taught about things while actually seeing them. In appreciation of them I promise that I will always be willing to try new things and keep using the old new things that worked (like Skype in the classroom) 
4. The type who gave me options
My freshman English teacher Mr. Fey, my sophomore English teacher Mrs. Pyle, my Political
Science teacher often gave assignments as options. You can create a diorama or write a song. You can take this class for 100% and write essays, or take the class for 90% and just take tests. Whatever their reasons I loved that these classes gave me the freedom to choose activities I felt I could really succeed in (pretty much anything that didn’t include drawing) and I use this with my student now. In appreciation of them I promise to integrate options into my students' activities.

5. The type who aren’t my teachers, but I still learn from them
The teachers whose webinars I attend, whose lessons have inspired me, whose advice has made me better have made me a better teacher. This list is probably the longest and includes my parents, co-workers (e.g. Ann, Michelle, Mickey, John), classmates, (e.g. Lauren, Juliet, Mary, Chelsi) LinkedIn group members (e.g. Sylvia , David) , Twitter Teachers (e.g. Shanthi, Shelly, John, Jon, Jase) and people in my Facebook groups. All of you have made me better. Thank you! In appreciation of you I promise to always keep my eyes open to your ideas and be willing to adapt them for my classes.

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