Monday, February 2, 2015

Memorable Teachers and How They Made Me a Better Educator: Part Two

I am lucky to have had five teachers who made a powerful and positive impression in my life and, looking back, I realize they greatly influenced the kind of teacher I am today. For this five part series, I will talk about why the teachers were important to me and how I use what I learned from them in my own classroom.

Part Two: Sixth Grade Language Arts and Eighth Grade Social Studies with Ms. Baum

The idea of starting middle school was a terrifying experience for me. Going to multiple classes a day? I thought I’d get so lost. Having huge seventh and eighth graders around? I thought they’d stuff me in lockers and give me swirlies in the toilets. The night before the first day of sixth grade I didn’t sleep at all because I was so afraid. Once I got to school and attended a few classes, I realized I was having so much fun. That day was the beginning of my favorite year in school. I really lucked out with my sixth grade teachers. All of them were great, especially my language arts teacher, Ms. Baum.

Ms. Baum’s classes were so much fun and filled with the laughter of both the students and the teacher. She had such a creative way of teaching and always had a positive energy. Even roll call was fun when Ms. Baum was your teacher. She always took roll with a weird voice or changed the students’ names around by adding an extra syllable or phrase. One time she cut the names in half and added “bow” to the end. For example, Marcus would be MarcBow. Since my name is Elly, mine was Elbow.  I didn’t mind being called that since my brother had been calling me Elbow for years. Elbow became my nickname for the rest of middle school. To this day she still calls me Elbow.

Every single day it was clear she loved what she was doing. I was fortunate to have her again as my eighth grade social studies teacher. I remember the lyrics to the songs she had us sing in her classes. Fifteen years later, I still know the Greek alphabet, the order of the presidents, and the Gettysburg Address because she put them to music.  Ms. Baum and her crazy teaching methods turned the often tough experience of middle school into something joyful for so many students.

Looking back now as a middle school teacher myself, Ms. Baum showed me learning can (and should) be fun, and those fun experiences are incredibly memorable. In my classes, I always try to make learning exciting and my classroom cheerful because I know the students will learn and retain so much more that way.  There is always a fun way to teach even the most boring of topics, you just have to be creative and enthusiastic.  Ultimately, I think Ms. Baum is the reason I love teaching middle school students.

Take a look at the other teachers who are a part of this series.
Part One: Elementary School
Part Three: High School
Part Four: Graduate School
Part Five: School of Life

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