Teachers as Role Models
Role models shape us and mould us in ways we often don’t realize at the time. Carol shares the story of Miss McLaren, her teaching role model.
The Role Model Teacher
As fall approaches and children head back to school and institutions of higher learning gear up for a new session, teachers play a huge role in students’ lives. They can become role models for their students and colleagues too.
Brad Henry said, “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning.” Does a specific teacher come to your mind when you hear these words? Did you have a teacher who ignited your imagination and instilled a love of learning in your life? I had a few but I want to share about one in particular.
Miss McLaren the Role Model
Miss McLaren taught elementary school her entire career. Her name never became famous outside the circle of fellow teachers, students she taught and their parents but she had a huge impact on my life. She never married nor had a family, but thought of her students as her children, encouraging them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams.
I was fortunate to have this woman as my first teacher. From the moment I saw her, she reminded me of a grandmother with her snow white hair and very sensible shoes. She enforced her classroom rules with a strictness that boded no nonsense but she also let each one of us know she cared about our success. One rule I remember – we needed to stay in our desks during lesson times. If we needed help she expected us to raise our hands and wait quietly and patiently for her to come to us.
A Lesson Learned
One day my classmate across the aisle did not understand something we were working on. Miss McLaren was busy helping another student on the other side of the room. I had finished my work and got out of my desk to help my friend. We were engrossed in the work when I felt a light swat on my backside and looked up in astonishment to find the teacher standing behind me. She told me I broke the rules and sent me back to my desk in humiliation. After she helped the other student, she stopped by my desk and with kind words explained why she set that rule. It was the only time I suffered consequences of breaking one of her rules. I never wanted to see that look of disappointment on her face again. I also knew she cared about each one of us. She expected us to do our best and once we mastered the basic skills, provided challenges for those of us that needed it.
The Delight of Books
I remember the delight in escaping into books, once I learned to read. She always had a stash of extra books in a cupboard at the back of the room. What a carrot to dangle in front of me in order for her to get me to have my work done quickly and correctly. Spending time with my imagination in the stories the books held captive was what I always wanted to do.
I began school at a time when Kindergarten was not part of the school system and the curriculum for grade one did not come close to today’s requirements. Miss. McLaren found it lacking since it did not take into account what six year olds could absorb. So she challenged us. She taught a split grade one-two classroom which provided her the perfect platform to prove her point. It was easy for her to add extra work for us to learn in grade one. All we had to do is pay attention when she taught the second grade. I loved learning. She inspired me to keep learning more.
A Hidden Agenda
At the end of the year she requested our class stay together as a split grade two-three class. The board agreed. By the end of my second year in school, I had completed all the grade three work too and the year-end testing showed a number of us did as well as anyone in grade three or better. It took many years for me to realize she had a hidden agenda. She planned to use us as an example to change the curriculum to provide a better education for primary grades because she desired the best for all her students.
Role Models Change Lives
Joyce Meyer said, “Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges.” Miss McLaren did just that. She knew how to challenge her students, encourage them to keep learning more than the prescribed curriculum and instill a love of learning that, in my case, has lasted for life. To me she was a great role model.
I continued attending the same school until I completed grade eight. Miss McLaren kept tabs on her former students even as she challenged her newest charges to love learning. Even once she retired and I moved on to high school and post-secondary, I kept in touch with her. When I visited in her home she proudly showed me scrapbooks she kept. They were filled with successes her former students had achieved and she grinned like a proud mama. She meant so much to me I even invited her to my wedding but her health did not permit her attending. My husband and I made a quick stop at her home on the way to our reception and she gifted us with a hand crocheted table cloth she made just for us.
Role Models Inspire
A good teacher can inspire and Miss McLaren did. She inspired me to work hard, love to read and always do the best I can. She believed in me and this gave me hope I could achieve goals I set for myself. She ignited my imagination when she taught me to read. So many new worlds opened up, places to explore in the pages of a book. I could and still can get lost for hours in a good story. My love of learning can be traced back to when I started school. Miss. McLaren made learning fun and exciting without gadgets or media. She instilled a love of learning for learning sake and other teachers built on the foundation she laid. Most of all she inspired me to be a teacher who challenged students, loved them and showed them compassion.
A Good Teachers Long Lasting Influence
This quiet, grandmotherly woman offered me a great example of what a good teacher should be for their students. Her influence to never stop learning, always reach for your goals and enjoying reading remains long after she is gone and I no longer teach in a classroom.
Do you love to learn? Who inspired you? Share your stories to encourage and inspire someone else.
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.
Visit Carol’s website carolscorner.ca
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