Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Want To Be . . .

. . . like the best teacher I ever had.

I am not one for New Year's resolutions.  But if I am going to shoot for something, then I want to be like my elementary school PE teacher.  Strange choice for best teacher ever, I guess.  Especially since I was a super academic school-loving kid.  I loved school supplies.  I loved books.  And I loved getting A's.  I was successful at most things school related, except PE.

I was the smallest kid in my class, and I was not born with a single ounce of athletic ability.  None.  If PE involved running, I was one of the last to finish.  If it involved basketball, I could not even throw the ball high enough to reach the basket.

But Mr. Mosher understood what I was capable of, and he inspired me.  He rewarded my sustained effort.  After I finished the mile, he would say "I'm so proud of you, Amy, because you never stopped running."  He taught me to measure success by improvement, always letting me know if my time or distance or whatever was better than the time before.

He recognized when one of my accomplishments was a really big deal.  I think I was in the second or third grade when I actually threw the basketball high enough and it miraculously dropped through the hoop.  He saw it happen and came running from across the gym to congratulate me.  I had a sense that he really cared about me.

I learned some really important life lessons in his class:

1.  I learned that it was okay to not be the best at everything.
2.  I learned that it was valuable to work hard on something, even if I knew I would never be as successful as someone else.
3.  I learned how to improve by competing against myself.

I know that there are students in my class who experience math the way that I experienced PE as a child.      I also know that I am a long way from being the kind of teacher Mr. Mosher was.  In a perfect world, I would love for my students to learn those same lessons.

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