Students learn best from passionate teaching

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Peter Loganbill

Special to the Ledger

At 7 a.m. I walked into my high school to meet my math teacher. I didn’t want to be there. He didn’t want to be there. However, he had shown me his class was important and since I was willing to be there, he was too. Mr. Miller knew I wanted to do my best and he had my interests as an individual in mind.

I needed help before I took my next calculus test and he told me he could meet an hour before school started to go over my questions. Calculus was a class I never cared for. I’ve never enjoyed working out a math problem. Despite my distaste for the subject, I will always think of Mr. Miller as one of my favorite teachers. He cared about me as a person, and was so passionate about his subject that he did his best to attempt to pass it on.

My high school was much smaller than the college so it was easy to form a bond with teachers since I would have them for different classes over a few years. Here at the college, a student may have a teacher for one semester and then never speak with them again. However, I still believe the qualities of an effective teacher remain the same, despite the differences of the schools.

Teachers cannot view class as something which they need to get done. When a teacher opens a class with, “Okay guys, sit down, we have a lot to do today,” it will instantly turn off the students. They will then think of the class as busy work they just need to get through, as opposed to a learning experience about an interesting aspect of the world.

Rather, class must be something that the teacher absolutely loves doing. The subject they teach needs to be their passion. It has to be “their thing.” They must be so interested in what they teach that they can’t help but pass it on to others.

Also, a teacher must not assume that their class is the student’s main priority. However, it has to be a priority. This is where the responsibility of the student comes in. If a teacher has set aside an hour for their class, the students have to give that time to the teacher. This mutual respect helps the class function as it should.

When I signed up for Macroeconomics at the college, I thought it would be a bore. If the teacher was no good, I imagined it being a regrettable experience. However, when Dan Owens ended the first class, he said that he would be speaking with a student one-on-one after each class period. In that moment, I realized he would be a great teacher. That’s all it took to show me he would truly care about his students as people, not just another Macroeconomics class.

My appointment came around a couple of weeks ago and it went exactly as I thought it would. Mr. Owens just wanted to get to know me. I was an individual to him, not a person in a seat.

He also loves his subject. At one point he told us he likes to draw supply and demand graphs on the beach. This is the type of passion teachers need to have. His position at the college is not just a job he has to do; he enjoys sharing his subject with us as an investment in our lives.

I’m not sure if I’ll have him for another class, but I will always remember that I had a really good Econ teacher my freshman year of college. Likewise, I will always remember Mr. Miller. I doubt I will study either of these fields long-term or use them in my career, but I will always remember the teachers who not only surprised me by showing me the value of the subject they loved, but helped me do my very best in the studies I did not expect to enjoy. They cared about me and did not see me as simply another face.

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