The Things You Learn From Teachers

The Things You Learn From Teachers


Having completed three years of nursery, thirteen years of school, and now nearing the end of my fifth year at University, I’ve been taught by a fair number of teachers / lecturers. I think if you’ve been through any type of education there’s bound to be at least one teacher who has had an impact on your life, whether it was the P.E. teacher you fancied who encouraged you to play hockey (who would have definitely fancied you back if you weren’t wearing a hideous red polo shirt and didn’t have a bright red face after doing the bleep test…), or someone who taught you a subject that formed the basis of the career path you’re pursuing. I’m fortunate to have had quite a few influential teachers, so this week I thought I’d write about them and what they taught me (and they probably have absolutely no idea about it).


The Pupil Support Teacher


At my high school everyone was assigned a pupil support teacher before we moved up from primary and from the minute I was introduced to mine I knew she would be brilliant. She took an immediate interest in what I wanted to study at school, and once after school we started picking subjects, she made a huge effort to get to know me, and always made time to chat whenever I wanted to talk to her. Having a relationship of trust like that with someone in a school environment is so important. It’s a place outside your family and friends that, should you need to, you can go to get guidance on anything from personal issues to careers advice. I loved having her in school (I know everyone else did too), and knowing that she supported us and always made the time to help everyone was such an amazing trait to have in a teacher.



The Head of Year


My original head of year left early on in my school career and when she was replaced everyone was sceptical at best. Our original teacher was a bit of a school legend, everyone loved and talked about her even before we moved up to high school – but for me, the man who replaced her was just as good. He was a little bit stricter than the woman who left, but I think that worked to his advantage. He was one of those teachers who you wanted to be proud of your year group because they’re actually a really good and reasonable teacher, despite them shouting at you for starting a ‘There’s a Troll in the Dungeon’ stampede as part of your Harry Potter themed muck up day (turned week). Again, he was a teacher who made an effort to know everyone and what they wanted to do after school. He genuinely cared about what you ended up doing, which can make a huge difference to your school experience.


The Modern Studies Teacher


This man was one of those teachers with a real passion for teaching, which as I have gone through university, I have come to realise is of paramount importance to your learning as a student, and your enjoyment of the course. I took modern studies as a crash higher in sixth year and absolutely loved it. I’m convinced that part of the reason I loved it was my teacher. Everyone who was taught by him loved him, he brought out the best in everyone in the class and made sure that everyone was treated fairly and equally. He also taught my higher history class which had a lot of students of mixed ability, and some who didn’t really care about the subject, but he made it interesting which kept everyone engaged the whole time (another thing you realise is so important when you get to university and you’re trying to pry your eyes open during lectures). Having a teacher who loves what they’re teaching you can really change your perception of the subject and your desire to get a good result in your exam. If every teacher was like this man, I’d imagine that exam results across the country would sky-rocket.

The Advanced Higher English Teacher


My advanced higher English classroom was unlike any other classroom I’ve been in at school, my teacher had a real passion for literature and you could see that on the walls, on the sideboards of the room, and on the classroom door. My teacher’s passion for her subject was visible whether we were talking about poetry, prose, or drama, even when we were reading out what we’d written for class that week.

Every week we would have a class breakfast, which made the whole experience less formal and encouraged us all to get to know each other which I found so helpful at advanced higher level (especially as we had to read out our own writing every week, and I am no poet so that can be intimidating when you don’t really know the others in your class). Some students would turn up to class every single week having written nothing, but she encouraged them to write and some of those people ended up writing the best material in the class. She was brilliant at picking out where our strengths were and telling us where to improve without it being disheartening or patronising: something not many teachers are able to do.

In that class I realised that I loved Tennessee Williams (I still do), and I would never have read his work was I not encouraged to do so by this teacher. The things I learnt in advanced English went beyond Tennessee Williams and Sylvia Plath: I can remember being in class listening to my teacher talk about the imagery used by Plath in ‘Medusa’ and I was annotating my poem while she was talking about it. Suddenly she stopped the class and pointed out that I was the only one taking notes. She told us that if we didn’t get in the way of taking notes as someone was talking, then we would really struggle to get by at uni, which has proven to be true. Over the past five years I’ve had to take notes in lectures in France where the lecturers are speaking at 100mph (in a foreign language), and in Aberdeen, take notes from lecture slides while lecturers are talking at the same time. That small piece of advice from her has really carried me through university and I got into good habits at an early stage because of her, which I think has helped me hugely as I’ve moved on with my academic career.

It’s a little bit sad that sometimes you only appreciate how good something was after it’s over. I loved school and I was ready to leave when the time came, but I wish I could go back and catch up with those teachers that I got on really well with, find out how they’re getting on, tell them what I’ve been up to since I left school and tell them that the things I learnt from them at school have had a huge impact on my time at university. I hope they all know that they impact every student’s life in some way, and that without them none of us would be where we are today. Although, if everyone had the chance to tell their teachers how grateful they are they’d likely be listening to ex-pupils day and night for years (even if they were the disruptive ones in class at the time, or the girls gawking at them as they taught us how to play hockey).



All images: Google Images