In Your Words - What educator from a book, movie, or TV show are you like?
I see myself in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus. While teaching music, Mr. Holland dreamed of becoming a composer. In the end, his reward was listening to his students play the music he’d written. I was once a promising young concert pianist, who wound up taking a job teaching elementary school. Later, I became a middle school music teacher, where I was able to hear students play not only the music I had written, but also the music I taught them to write. Now, I’m a concert performer, fulfilling a promise from years ago. My reward is still hearing the music of students.
Peterborough, New Hampshire
I’ve absorbed a lot of educational values from Little Men and Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott. Jo and her husband run a school and take in both privileged and needy students, where each student is taught based on individual needs. They emphasize that lessons are found everywhere—in books, in nature, in relationships, in the events of the day, and so on. They never give up on a student, and they maintain ties with former students. At one point, Jo refers to the mind as being like a chest of drawers—each drawer should be filled with interesting and valuable things to last one’s whole life. These were my favorite books in my early years, and I’d like to think I am imparting their values and giving as much to my students as they did to me.
Sierra Vista, Arizona
I’d like to think I’m the inspiring type, like the teacher from Mona Lisa Smile who isn’t afraid to think outside the box when motivating students to learn. But many of my students are like those from Dangerous Minds. They live very tough lives, and just need someone in their corner as an advocate. Like Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, I learn just as much from my students as they do from me.
Back in the 1950s, there was a TV show called Romper Room. I longed to be a member of Miss Ann’s class and participate in her songs, exercises, and lessons. The thought of getting my hands on her magic mirror was unimaginable! Fast forward to 1975, and I am Miss Ann, but my sixth- grade class does not embrace the format of my beloved Romper Room. The veteran teacher next door refers to my teaching style as “the rumpus in romper room.” Zip along to 2003, and I trade middle school for preschool, where I continue to embody Miss Ann, but with better results with a class of four-year-old “Do Bees.” I even have a mirror that says “This is what a smart student looks like.” Thank you, Miss Ann—I am finally starring in my own Romper Room, and and I could not be happier!
Southampton, New York
I’d never seen Dead Poets Society, but when a student told me I reminded her of Mr. Keating, the rest of the class heartily agreed. After renting it, I laughed when Mr. Keating jumped on the desk. My desks are arranged in groups forming circles. Once, during a lecture on egg production, I jumped up onto one desk and said that I was the fertilized ovum in a hen. I then jumped onto the floor in the middle of the desks and started spinning in circles, explaining that I was now in the infundibulum (a funnel-shaped structure in the reproductive tract of a hen), and then I squatted down under a desk, out of sight. A student yelled, “Where’d you go?” to which I responded, “Into the magnum ... I'll be here for a while waiting for my shell to form.” Georgia is the number one poultry producing state in our country, so it was an important lesson, and a great way to demonstrate. I’m sure Mr. Keating would agree.