A teacher who inspired me most was a college professor. I was in my freshman year, first semester away at college complete with the fresh feeling of new-found freedom. As a freshman, we were required to complete an intro to writing class. As a result, I found myself sitting in a very small class with Mr. Steve Metzger.
Mr. Metzger ran his class entirely different than I had ever experienced before. Yes, it was one of my first college level courses, but that wasn’t it. He made learning real. How so? Instead of just lecturing and teaching us to write, he told us on the first day that, as a class, we were going to publish a collaborative book. Here was a group of freshman, used to learning in such a way where we had mastered “school” by completing assignments and turning them in on time, awaiting a grade from a teacher, now being asked to publish a book! This class most definitely impacted me as a learner, writer, and as a teacher.
As a learner, I had to work. But not in the way I was used to, of going through the routine of assignments. I actually had to work in a way that pushed myself to be better than just average. After all, I only had one writing assignment this semester, but this writing assignment was to be published and placed onto print forever. It had to be better than good. As a result, I listened just a little bit more closely to the tips Mr. Metzger offered in his lessons. I actually tested out Mr. Metzger’s suggestions with a little more excitement. I got to see my writing grow in a way I didn’t know was possible.
As a writer, Mr. Metzger’s class left me understanding how to reach my audience better. How to bring a reader into my writing from the very beginning. Now I have to say, I didn’t quite know my writer’s voice just yet, but Mr. Metzger helped me feel confident and ultimately inspired me to continue to be a life-long writer.
Mr. Metzger’s class had nothing to do with me becoming a teacher. I wasn’t even sure I was going to be a teacher when I sat in his class my first semester away at college. But his style of teaching is something to be admired. He trusted his students. He somehow knew we could rise to occasion. He knew if we were to really learn, he needed to give us a reason to apply our skills. Something real. Not just a college paper all neatly typed (yes, I had a word-processor in college… not a computer). Not just another assignment to be turned in, graded, then returned to me all marked up with big fat grade placed on top. Learning in this class had an authentic purpose. This “intro to writing” class not only taught me how to write better, but I walked away with a published book! Literally, something to slap down on my resume. Something tangible. Something to write home about.
This is what I hope to inspire with my students. I don’t want them to just leave my classroom with a bunch of new facts and a three ring binder full of recycling. I want my students to walk away having accomplished something they never thought possible. I want them to walk away from my class having made a positive impact on the community or their classmates. Because anyone can learn, but what you do with what you have learned is far more important.
I suppose I strayed away from this week’s Share #YourEdustory topic of how I am different from my favorite teacher. However, I’d rather focus on how my favorite teacher is an inspiration. Perhaps, Mr. Metzger will one day read this very post. He may not even know how his class still lingers in the hearts of his students.
Oh, and the book… it was published! It was called, “Our Town: Chico Remembers” and it honored long time residents of Chico, California. I highlighted a local artist, Claudia Steel.