23 Jul '14

News 10 inspiring teachers: as nominated by our readers

It's coming up to the end of term, so here are some great stories of inspiring teachers sent in by our readersAs the school year comes to a close, we asked you to tell us the most inspiring lesson you were taught by a teacher.Following the viral success of a letter sent by a headteacher in Lancashire, you got in touch with all sorts of stories from the classroom.It wasn't until after I had left uni that one of my old teachers had the greatest impact on me. Through the sixth form we had had run in after run in, we did not get on. I qualified as a teacher in the same subject, and I wanted to tell him. His response was 'we have a job going here...' In a funny way that meant more to me than anything after our long term clashes in the classroom. I'm also going to take this as an opportunity to praise what an amazing job a friend of mine has done in his first year as a teacher (a few years ago now).Graduating with a 1st from a top university in maths, he was really keen to go into teaching. Got a placement at an inner city london school as a teaching assistant and ended up working with the dyslexic special need children. Mr Whitehead, my French teacher in Secondary school, was an OK French teacher, but dry in his delivery, too strict, and we all feared him as a result.He was physically appallingly co-ordinated, and overweight, but nonetheless put himself forward for the staff v 6th form football match at the end of the year. He wasn't a flashy player like the nippy English teacher Mr. Beacon, but he was solid and lumbering.Having been repeatedly dissuaded from applying to Cambridge by my head of year, who had an enormous anti-Oxbridge bias, my history teacher overheard me talking about whether I was going to drop any of my AS-Levels at the end of Year 12. She said 'Well you'd best keep history if you're going to apply to Oxford or Cambridge, which you should definitely be thinking of.' After being told for months that there was no point, for her to present it as something that I ought to be doing gave me a lot more confidence. And she was right because I got in and did well."Come to my woman's breasts and take my milk for gall," screamed Phyllis Davis, clasping her ample, angora-clad bosom with one hand while holding her well-thumbed copy of Macbeth in the other. An unforgettable moment from an unforgettable English and history teacher who transformed the lives of all those her talents touched - a nugget of pure gold buried in the unlikely soil of an overcrowded and underfunded secondary modern school during the austere post-war years.The headteacher at the sixth form that I will be boarding at in August inspired me. He'll be retiring this year. I visited his school (it's a school for deaf students) last year in October with no hopes of getting in because the local authorities refused to fund my place. He looked at my predicted GCSE grades (I have just finished at a mainstream secondary school) and told me that I would be coming to his school to complete my A Levels, and told me, "Don't dream that you're coming to [school name]; believe it!". I spent the rest of the day crying in happiness. His actions have inspired me and I hope to be able to help deaf people as he has helped me.And the deputy headteacher at my old secondary school who always encouraged us and gave us hope. He told us that each one of us had the ability to do something phenomenal, had a wonderful gift and that we had to believe in ourselves; and that grades did not decide whether we were gifted or not. He is one of the sweetest teachers that I've had.I still remember the day my English teacher, Mr Wilson, put aside the curriculum and simply read to us from Hemingway's Death In The Afternoon for a whole lesson.It was inspiring and liberating at the same time, because, not only did he communicate a real love of literature to us, but he fueled and sanctioned whatever streak of anarchistic rebellion might be lurking in our hearts.Two @ Hemel Hempstead SchoolMr.James Chappelow - History. A man from a modern extreme poverty background but with a sense of self and of the value of his work that let him rise above pride. When teaching our A-level course on Victorian history he would tell anecdotes about what it was like to grow up in the 70s in the bottom of British society. It fleshed out for us the suffering of the serf of the mediaeval era or the labourer of the industrial revolution in a way still loaded with meaning after 20 years. Everything we learned of his personal life - as rumours always circulate about teachers - showed him in a good light. When i was in year seven my mother (a wheelchair user) was made redundant and my dad was unemployed due to a severe motorcycle accident a year before. I was caring for both of them and my younger sibling. We were due to go on an history trip but i didn't have the £10 the trip cost. A few days before the trip my history teacher rang my mum and asked why we hadn't paid yet and my mum explained that we had no money coming in at the moment. The teacher said to sign the permission slip anyway and she'd sort something.the next day the teacher grabbed me at break and handed me a £10 note. "just give it back to me in class with your permission slip. You're one of the best historians for your age I've ever met and if anyone deserves to go on a trip right now it's you."My history teacher was a quiet, middle-aged, Welsh Phd graduate who was awkward and couldn't control a class. We had to call him Dr Wager which seemed strange to us as we didn't understand at the time a Dr could be more than a physician, such was the dull, stolid, collective ignorance of our cohort. I had him for three years from 13-16. In the first two years I messed around with the other fools in the class, trying and often succeeding in getting a rise from him. The usual stuff; locking him in the cupboard, hiding his briefcase, talking in class. He would ignore us at first, continuing to talk over the rising noise until finally he lost it and went for one of us little bastards in a spit flecked rage. We loved it. Continue reading...

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