What I’ve Learned from A Teacher

Becky Weber, Artist

Teachers have the ability to change our lives and our outlook on the world, and Mrs. Reddish, my middle school science teacher, did exactly that for me.

I think we’ve all had at least one teacher that we treasure the memory of and often spend our days reflecting on the year we had with them. For me, one of those teacher’s was Mrs. Reddish, a science teacher back at South Jordan Middle School. I think all students, especially middle school students, are just a little starved for a good lesson by a teacher who actually enjoys what they’re doing and is willing to involve the students in their subject. If there’s one thing I learned from Mrs. Reddish, it’s that there are teachers who are willing to break the teaching mold or at least bend it enough to make you pay attention to it. John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia conducted a study on students to see how having good teacher’s affected their lives and discovered that “[students] are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to have children as teenagers." When students have teachers that add value to the classroom and are willing to make the classroom an energetic learning environment.

The first day of school she did precisely that. While all of my other classes had been busy going over disclosures until they all blended together and sounded about the same, Mrs. Reddish marched into our classroom, declared that we would be worrying about all of that later, and told us to write descriptions on different objects based on their physical properties (for instance if the object was green or bumpy), being as precise as possible. It was something much more involved and amusing than going over how many times you were allowed to use the bathroom in one quarter.

Mrs. Reddish taught me a lot of things about cells and environmental impact, yes, but she also taught lessons that can be applied to other classes. She taught me about teamwork and learning to get along with whoever you happen to be by when she declared there was a group project. She often taught by example – she collaborated with other teachers, showing that by sharing with others you can improve life for one another.

When talking about how she tried to make school the best experience for both herself and for her students Mrs. Reddish talked about doing her best not to talk above students. She that when a teacher’s acts like they’re better than the students and are superior the students shut down. I asked Reddish on what she believed was the most effective way to teach students, and she replied ‘…if teachers can make a connection with a student, the student can learn anything the teacher is teaching.’ She made a connection with me. Obviously or else I wouldn’t be writing this about her. The more I think about her class the more memories that come back – lessons that she made interesting and fun that stay with me even now. Inside jokes that the class had. Music that she’d play while we worked. It’s the little things that made the classroom environment fun to be in and opened me up to learning.

From Mrs. Reddish I learned to have a renewed love for learning, something that has diminished over time the longer I’ve been in school. She gave me tools that helped me in both my academic and my social life – when teachers go the extra mile their lessons are the ones that stay long term.